I am continuing with the steps:-
- Do the things you did at first
from the last Nugget.
This week we focus on Repent – Repentance. I have written much on this over the years. Through the time of writing Bible Gems I have written about Repentance multiple times in the Gems on Romans, Luke and Acts and elsewhere. It is an important biblical word.
The biblical word for “repent” is the Greek verb metanoeo or the noun metanoia and means a change of mind, repentance, or conversion. The Septuagint used this word in the Old Testament as the substitute for the Old Testament Hebrew word shuv which means to turn around, turn back or return to the LORD. In both Testaments the word depicts the call to the people to turn or to change their attitudes and ways. The Greek words contain a stronger force to them. It demands a decision to completely change or to entirely turn around in the way one is thinking, believing, or living. This word “repent” gives the image of a person changing from top to bottom — a total transformation wholly affecting every part of a person’s life. Because Christ loves us, He often confronts us with painful truths about ourselves and then calls on us to repent. We must make the decision to turn from the sin in our lives and remove every action, attitude, or relationship from our lives that grieves Him and hurts us. That total transformation is to turn upside down. Actually it turns us right way up; it just feels upside down because we have for so long been satisfied with a life lived upside down and not right way up.
I intend to write this Nugget not from a translator’s approach based on the Hebrew or Greek but from a practical human viewpoint.
Locked deep in the human psyche appears to be the unwillingness to admit “I was wrong.” “It’s my fault.” I recognise the flaw in me from my youth. I have seen the same flaw in my children and now again in my grandchildren. How is it that running through the generations of human kind there is an unwillingness to admit mistakes, actions that clearly can be attributed to us or simply put and yet offensive to some, SIN? It is like we want to blame someone else for the thing that happened, the mistake made or for us to find some way around the admission of guilt.
- “It wasn’t me, he made me do it.”
- “No, I didn’t, it was her.”
- “Was not!”
- “Was too.”
I am sure you have encountered this scenario before and even been involved in it personally. Where does it come from? If we can’t deflect the responsibility to someone else then we try the ploy of claiming although we may have committed the action in question, it was still not actually our fault.
- He made me do it;
- She made me do it;
- satan made me do it;
- God made me do it.
Where does this attitude come from? It seems to be endemic and applicable to all mankind (read womankind too). Let me take you back to the source. It’s found in beginning. The Book of Genesis in the Bible is the book of “beginnings”. There we read:
“Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God asked the woman, “What have you done?” “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”Genesis 3:11-13
Did you pick up the pattern in this well known passage?
- Adam: “It was the woman’s fault; well actually it was yours God, you gave me that woman.”
- Eve: “It wasn’t my fault, the devil made me do it.” (Ian’s translation)
I am convinced we have all played this game. The sad thing is that many of us are still playing the game long into our “maturity”. We all know you don’t have to teach your children to lie; it comes naturally. We are all tainted / tarred with the same brush. The hardest thing to do seems to be to confess that we were wrong, made a mistake, broke the rules or stepped over the line into sin. But that simple fact appears to be the hardest thing for us humans to admit to.
Paul writing in Romans 7 says:
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t.I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.Romans 7:14-21
We are all on this earth to learn the lesson and admit when we are wrong or don’t measure up to God’s standard. But in reality there is a step prior to that – admitting that God is a reality. I was an atheist until I was 23. I refused to admit there was such a being as God. My atheism became entrenched when I was nine years old after my father had ranted and raved at my mother that something was her fault (which happened frequently). The next morning, Sunday, I took my rugby ball out to the front of the house and was punting it into the air and catching it. A sign that I was available to kick the ball with my neighbourhood friend across the road. My father came rushing out of the front door and screamed at me for kicking the ball in the front yard on the Lord’s day. In my nine-year-old-mind I said “There is no God” and lived like that until I was 23 when I met the God I claimed didn’t exist.
Do you realise that is the ultimate sin we need to admit and say we are sorry for? To deny the existence of the God who created us and live as though He doesn’t exist. I well remember the vitriolic way I would defend the atheistic faith – claiming “There is no God!” with passionate zeal and even anger. Why? Why would I do that if I didn’t believe there is / was such a thing as God. What does it matter to me? Absolutely nothing if I don’t believe in God. Why should it trouble me so? Oh I know why? To cover up the way I was living – denying the God who made me – I could not for a moment stop to think, “But what if there was such a thing as God?” The night I was confronted with the Gospel in the midst of a scientific presentation of Bible truth (The Good News that there is a God and He loves us and requires something of us). I was aware that my evolutionary arguments were crumbling and I had no valid argument against the concept of God being a present reality and I was in a cold sweat. I knew if I was foundationless then I had to accept the reality of God and that was the scariest thing. It is that fact which drives most of us to hang on to some form of atheism. It is the ultimate thing that we have to repent of – believing the lie of evolution. And believe me it is a lie! Talk to me about it if you find this fact hard to accept.
“It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Once we accept that then we have to get over the hurdle that God holds us to a standard of behaviour. Oh we can claim to be free but it is not a reality. Maybe the reason why we ALL cover up our wrong doing is because we know deep down ultimately there will be a day of reckoning. We hope that our good deeds will outweigh our bad deeds. Many of us have this notion that if my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds then I will be acceptable to God. If I haven’t murdered, committed adultery or lied then I will be acceptable. But that is not God’s way of making you right with Him. Jesus said, “He didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfil it.” But what does that mean? He tells us plainly what it means.
Moses told you not to murder, commit adultery . . .bear false witness (lie). But I tell you anyone who harbours hate in his heart is in danger of judgment . Anyone who looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Your ticket to heaven can’t be earned by what you do. Anyway you try it you can’t earn your way to heaven. The only way you will be made acceptable is to say, “God I am sorry. I can’t live like you want me to live. I just can’t do it. Help me.” Then God says to you, as He said to me on the night of the August 19th 1973, “I was waiting for you to say sorry and mean it. You need to accept the fact that I paid for your wrong doing. Cease from your striving and enter into my rest.” There is no other way to be made right with God but to accept the gift of His Son.
There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we can be saved other than the name . . . of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.Acts 4:10-12
That in ordinary layman’s language is why repentance is so important. It’s saying to God I was wrong, I am living wrong, I am sorry, I need your help. I am willing to do things Your way.