I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practiced. 2 Corinthians 12:21
Repent – Too often we become “Max Factor” Christians. We take the trip down the aisle, kneel at the altar and confess. We apply liberal amounts of tears, wash our outside faces and feel the warmth of God’s embrace on clean skin. But we only removed the makeup. We cleaned the pores without exfoliating the heart. Before long, the world has painted us again.
Metanoia, the Greek word for repent, comes from meta (change) and nous (mind). It is not a word in the Revlon Christian’s vocabulary. It applies only to changes of heart, not changes of face. It means to move away from one thing and toward another. To do an about face. To strike out in a new direction. To leave the past as dead and forget about the burial plot.
The idea is not new to Christians. Amos and Hosea show the difference between outward rituals and inner change. Serious repentance means turning away from sin and toward righteousness. Serious repentance (is there any other kind?) requires a new relationship to God that embraces all aspects of life – not just the religious. Repentance always begins at the depths. A wrong attitude is more damaging than right behavior.
Repentance is based on three principles of obedience:
1. Obedience to God’s will is the unconditional submission to conduct that God requires
2. Obedience is the complete trust in God and the rejection of all human help and efforts to secure life and righteousness
3. Obedience is the turning aside from everything ungodly
In the New Testament, “I’m sorry” never counts. I can be sorry for all sorts of actions and events without changing my inner constitution. Repentance means remorse, remorse so deep that it compels me to turn away completely. This kind of repentance shows itself in restitution, forgiveness and humility. Without transformation of action, claims of repentance are just “makeup” lies.