True Repentance Demostrated: PART 6
The Primary Argument
Many broken individuals claim to be repentant, but excuse their lack of amputation as an unnecessary need. They might remind us, ‘if God has forgiven me my past sins—so should you’. And if God has given me a new heart, you shouldn’t put restrictions on me based upon my past moral failures. In other words, the unrepentant might say, ‘Christians don’t require consequences to be imposed on other Christians’.
But here’s the truth. Biblical repentance isn’t something imposed, rather it is volunteered. It isn’t a momentary gift either. Repentance is an ongoing gift that characterizes the NewHeart. It is a continuous confession of sin, as Holy Spirit reprograms how we think, choose, and feel, with God’s Word. As we learn to exchange our beliefs and values for God’s, we seem to learn best in the community of Christian friends and the Church. We voluntarily surrender to the accountability of Christian leaders and/or friends, because we have learned that we are stronger together than apart.
Think of it this way. The writer of Hebrews says that the Christian has been made perfect. Another word for prefect would be righteous. But that same verse of Scripture also states that the perfect—the righteous—are being perfected. And sometimes the word sanctified is used for perfected. Thus, we can conclude that there is something invisible within us, which still needs to be perfected. Though our most inner being—our nature, our identity, our relationship to God—has already been made perfect.
I would propose that this process of ‘being perfected’ regards how we think, choose, and feel. It is our thinkers’, our choosers’, and our feelers’ in need of being reprogrammed. And Holy Spirit is the One reprogramming us to think, choose, and feel more and more like Jesus does. We have been given new hardware—a NewHeart with new and right desires. And now, our software of thinking, choosing, and feeling is continually updated with God’s Word, so that we experience more and more of God’s Life.
Why would I think this? Salvation has both an immediate result of passing from death into Life (John 5:2) and being forgiven (Colossians 2:13-14), and the process of experiencing God and learning to live from His Life. Both the immediate and the process are very real! We are set free from sin—the immediate; so we can learn to live free of sinning—the process (Galatians 5:1). We are made righteous—the immediate; so we can learn right living—the process (Romans 1:16-17). We are learning to live from Jesus’ Life, who is our new Life—our new identity! Repentance then is the gift of godly sorrow over our rebellion before God received—the immediate. This then grows into thinking about confessing and amputating sins; then actually grows into choosing to confess and amputate sins; then is followed by dealing with all the emotions we feel, when we confess and amputate any avenue that would lead us back into those sins—the process. And sometimes the process isn’t so clean. It can be very messy! Repentance is a gift from God, which ignites a Life of saving faith that continues on for a life time.