Monday, August 22, 2005

Commanded To Think Different!

Repent:  Commanded To Think Different!

Do you know one of the first commands Jesus presented to his followers in his public ministry?  
After being baptized by John the Baptist and after spending forty days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, Jesus left his home in Nazareth and moved to Galilee to base his ministry in Capernaum.  It was while in the area of Capernaum that Jesus began to preach - and his message was one of the need for repentance - with one of his first commands being "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17).  
What did Jesus mean by "repent"?
If we look at the meaning of the word "repent" - we see that there are three major words for "repent" in the bible - two in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.
Old Testament
  • Transliterated Hebrew Word: Shuwb
    • to return, to turn back
    • to reverse, to revoke
  • Transliterated Hebrew Word: Nacham
    • to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted
New Testament
  • Transliterated Greek Word: Metanoeo:
    • to change one's mind
    • to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins
In Matthew 4:17 - one of the verses highlighting Jesus' command to repent - we find the Greek word "Metanoeo" - meaning to change one's mind.   In presenting this command to "repent", Jesus certainly painted in the minds of his listeners the picture of true repentance - a picture that included not only changing one's mind about sin, but also reversing one's course concerning sin and being sorry for one's sinful actions.
When we consider repentance today, do we agree with God that our sin is wrong?   Do we reverse our course concerning sin?   Are we sorrowful for our sin - with a sorrow based on our disobedience to God rather than sorry for the consequences of our sins?    If we do not - and if we have not already made the decision in our minds that we will agree with God concerning his view of sin whenever sin in our lives is revealed to us - then we may not have truly repented.
What might prevent us as Christians from experiencing true repentance?
In 1 Samuel 15, Saul provides us four unfortunate responses that portray how you and I can miss the mark concerning repentance. 
Story Background:
  • God's Guidance To Saul:   This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.' "
  • Saul's Actions:   But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs-everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.
Saul's four unfortunate responses when confronted with his sin: 
  • He minimized his sin.  (vs. 20 - Saul said he did obey the Lord - an obedience that while substantial in Saul's eyes, fell short of God's guidance).
  • He rationalized his sin.  (vs. 20 - Saul rationalized his sparing of the plundered sheep and cattle by saying they were to be sacrificed to the Lord.)
  • He shifted the blame for his sin. (vs. 21 - Saul blamed the soldiers for taking the sheep and cattle from the plunder.)
  • He repented because of consequences of sin - not because of agreement with God concerning sin.  (vs. 24 - Saul falsely repented only after he was told he was being rejected as King by the Lord).
What is the evidence of a Christian's true repentance?  
A fundamental change in our outlook toward sin - an outlook based on the way God views sin.
How can we as Christians apply this command to repent today?
  • Let's purpose in our heart to think of sin as God thinks of sin and ask him to reveal any sin in our life that we need to repent.  
  • As we have sins in our lives revealed to us, lets reverse our course of action and truly consider and be genuinely sorry for the cost that God had to pay for our sins - that being the death of his Son, Jesus Christ.  
  • Let's ask for God's forgiveness of those revealed sins, and thank God for his accepting his Son's payment for our sins. 
  • Let's genuinely seek to not take for granted our opportunity to ask for forgiveness - as repentance is a gift from God.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Portions Taken From Steve Gregg's Teaching On Repentance (MP3 File).

6:38:53 PM    comment []

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