“Repent” is the very first message associated with the good news of Jesus. First proclaimed by his herald and forerunner John, it became the very first message preached out of the mouth of Jesus Christ himself:
“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 3:2 NLT)
Today is Yom Kippur. It is a day associated with the turning away from sin and atonement. Of course turning away from sin is one of the essential aspects of repenting. The other aspect has to do with identity. Thinking rightly about who God is, and who that makes you in relationship to him.
This is a big deal. It couldn’t get bigger. Thats why Jesus starts with:
So what does it mean?
Repentance literally means “to have a change of mind”. Start thinking rightly. About what?
Well, I would suggest that the most important thing to “have a change of mind” about is who God is.
Do you view God as he has revealed himself in His Word or as something else? Do you view him as the very essence and source of love and wisdom and beauty? Do you acknowledge him as Lord, the Master? Your Master?
Do you agree with him about what he says is wicked and evil? (Dare I say that most people don’t.)
Agreeing with him about what he declares evil in your own life is step one to being liberated from the evil that enslaves you.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9 NLT)
Who wants freedom?
First step is to agree with God about everything he deems as evil in your life.
Do you lust? Drink to much? Neglect God? Fail to honor him and put him first in everything? Confess it to God. Tell him in painstaking detail what you have done and failed to do, how many times you did it, who you did it with, and agree with him that it was wrong. Pour out your heart to him. He will forgive you. You have his word on that. Turn from your sin.
If you choose not to, I would not want to be you when you come to your “life review”. You choosing to remain tied to any sin guarantees that you are going to be ashamed come judgement day… and you forfeit so much!
“Those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8 NET)
The fact of the matter is that if you don’t love Jesus more than anything else in your life, than you have an idol. That’s a given. An idol is anything that takes center stage in your life. What do you give your attention to? What do you invest your life in? Who has your heart?
Scripture says that those who fail to love Jesus are under a curse.
“If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22 NLT)
I was talking with a friend about falling in love with Jesus. We figured, if you are in love with Jesus and he is the pursuit of your life, then sin won’t be. You’ll come to hate your sin in the end for what it did to you and everything and everyone you influenced for the enemy. You’ll profoundly regret that you gave your strength and energies, attention and time to the enemy and enlarged the domain of hell because of who you chose to serve.
The wisest man (besides Christ) who ever lived once wrote:
“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” ~ Solomon (Ecclesiastes 9:18 NIV)
I think about that.
Today I was pondering this warning in Scripture:
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT)
Anyone with a porn addiction or any other idol for that matter, will not inherit the kingdom of God… don’t fool yourselves.
Indeed a great deal of people are fooling themselves. They may say, “But I believe in Jesus”. The Lord’s brother James would say, ‘show me your faith by what you do‘.
“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” (James 2: 17-20 NLT)
And what I read in Romans does not bring anyone comfort who still insists on clinging to their sin:
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:4-11 NLT)
What are we going to do?
Respond with soft hearts to the Lord? Or press onward on the broad road that leads to destruction?
This is NOT bad news people! You get to repent of your sins! YEAH!!!!
Did you miss the first part of that last passage of holy Scripture? It’s God’s wonderful kindness and (perhaps infinite?) willingness to forgive and show us mercy when we do repent of our sins.
Repentance is woven into the good news of Jesus from start to finish.
Here is the Gospel message as recorded by Luke:
“It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.'” Luke 24:47 NLT
Only someone who has suffered for years with an inability to repent can really begin to appreciate the fact that we “get to” repent. As someone who was mercifully granted repentance, I appreciate the magnitude of this kindness from the Lord. He allows me the wonderful grace of parting ways with my sin.
Here is a passage about being granted repentance (what a gift!):
So here’s the thing, keeping in mind that repentance means “having a changed mind”, then we need to remember that a changed mind about sin is but a small part of all that repentance truly is.
I am reminded of a Scripture in Romans:
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)
So repentance is really about adopting a whole new mind. It is to be transformed in the way you think and percieve reality… as God does! This is a life long pursuit.
Yom Kippur is a day for celebrating the atonement.
“It is finished.” ~ Jesus
Jesus spoke these words on the cross. What weight and significance do these words carry as the Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the whole world? Jesus has now reconciled all things to himself. What does the Atonement mean? What are the implications?
I’m going to close this post with a reflective reading on this Holy day of Atonement (Yom Kippur):
Christ Is Supreme
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.
This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (Colossians 1:15-22 NLT)
Do you believe it?
Next, to explore: What does “the Kingdom of heaven is near” really mean?