Friday, August 25, 2006

Repentance

Repentance is, I believe, one of the most misunderstood doctrines of the Christian life. People will say that they have repented from their sin, and yet they see no inconsistency with going on being enslaved to that sin. This cannot be. Repentance means a turning away from sin. This is quite evident from the OT Hebrew word for repentance "shub" (pronounced "shoove"). This word means a change in direction. That is what repentance is: a change in direction from sin to God. It is important to recognize also that repentance is a gracious gift from God. We, on our own, cannot turn away from sin. We, in our sinful natures, are dead in sin, unable to turn away from it. The relationship of repentance to faith is often a hot topic. Obviously, there can only be a repentant faith, as well, conversely, as a faithful repentance. You cannot have one without the other. Repentance involves a recognition of sin as sin. The way this happens is through recognition of what the law demands. This is one of the big reasons why OT law needs more than ever to be preached in our churches today: people simply do not recognize their sin, because they are ignorant of the law. Therefore, they are ignorant of their need of a Savior. Repentance is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for pardon from God. The WCF has this marvelously comforting thought about repentance: "As there is no sin so small, but it deserves damnation, so there is no sin so great, that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent." Repentance is also a daily thing, though, in addition to being a once for all turning. This is part of that already/not yet condition in which the believer finds himself, being in-between the two comings of Christ. We need to repent of specific sins, not just our general sins.

1 Comments:

At 8/25/2006 06:55:00 PM, Blogger jul said...

Great point. One thing it seems we often forget is that we are in desperate need of the Spirit's conviction in our lives or we will not repent. There are many times when I'm aware that I'm sinning but am not willing to stop. I may feel vaguely guilty or condemned, but this does not lead to victory over it. Instead of trying to conquer sin myself, I pray that God would convict me. This is a prayer that is always answered! He who began a good work is faithful to complete it.

 

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