Thursday, March 28, 2013

Repentance - everyone's favorite word!

J.I. Packer writes, "The repentance that Christ requires of His people consists in a settled refusal to set any limit to the claims which he may make on their lives."

The Biblical word "repentance" is extremely important. The English word "repent" comes from both a Hebrew word and a Greek word. The Hebrew word from which we often translated "repent" means "to turn, change direction, or return." The Greek word means the changing of the mind that leads to a change in behavior.

Salvation is dependent on repentance (see Luke 13:1-9; Acts 2:39; 3:19; 17:30). We must have a change of mind about our pattern(s) of life, turn from our sin(s), and return to God. Admittedly, without proper faith in Jesus Christ's life and work, repentance is not sufficient. But so too, we can believe in God like the demons and yet remain rebellious (just another term for unrepentant) and unsaved.

In the past few weeks, I've run across a number of examples where people seem to excuse continued patterns of sin. The husband who no longer visits strippers is satisfied with "only" indulging in soft core pornography. The young person who uses "white lies" rather than outright deceit thinks this still fulfills, "Honor your father and mother." The bigamist excusing their sexual intercourse with two spouses because they all made vows at an altar. The thief excusing tax evasion because big government is a monstrosity.

Effectively, we redefine Biblical commands to suit our own desires of the flesh. We allow ourselves to believe some repentance is sufficient for salvation but then go on to allow patterns of sin to continue all in the name of grace or our sinful plight prior to new creation (contra Romans 6:1-5). We ignore Paul's stern warnings that those engaged in unrepentant sinful behaviors will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21).

But here's the hope...

NIV  1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (my emphasis)

Sinful patterns are not the end of the story. God changes people, transforms people, washes people, and justifies people all in the power and name of Jesus by the Holy Spirit. Admittedly, the lingering power of sin may remain, but this in no way gives us the freedom to willingly indulge in said patterns or give free reign for others to do so (Rom. 1:32).

"I can't stop..." is not in the vocabulary of the Christian. Nothing is impossible with God (Mark 10:27). To accept any continued pattern of sin is to say we don't believe the gospel. And if we don't believe the gospel, there is no power for God's righteousness to come upon us from first to last (Rom. 1:16-17).

This is why the opening quote is absolutely true: "The repentance that Christ requires of His people consists in a settled refusal to set any limit to the claims which he may make on their lives." --J.I. Packer

If I refuse, set limits, or make claims contrary to Jesus, I am lord and He is not.