REPENT FOR CHANGE
Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem.
(Luke 24:46-47 NASB)
Faith without establishing change is powerless. In fact, such a faith will produce an underlying feeling of guilt and the risk of falling into religious rites producing dead works. It is thus the first and most important stone laid in the elementary teachings about the Messiah, namely, that ‘faith toward God,’ will always be coupled with ‘repentance from dead works,’ (Heb 6:1).
There is a course in our old nature, a way of life in accordance with the ways of this fallen world. In our in-generated state we are ‘dead in our trespasses and sins’ (Eph 2:1-2), while we ‘walk in the futility of our mind, being darkened in our understanding, excluded from the life of God,’ (Eph 4:17-18). Not only do we need to be regenerated to rise up into a new life in Christ Jesus (John 3:5-8; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 Peter 1:23), but we need to continue in this renewal as we enter into our walk of sanctification.
It is thus of utter importance to underline the essential place of repentance in our walk with God. The Hebrew word for repentance is ‘shuwb,’ essentially meaning, ‘to turn.’ In the simple root it is connected to ‘a turn in reactions, attitudes, and feelings,’ and ultimately connected to ‘truth,’ (Jer 5:3). This concept of turning, specifically in the way we ‘think, choose, and feel,’ is much more prominent in the Greek word used for repentance, namely, ‘metanoeo,’ literally meaning, ‘to think differently,’ implying a change in perception. There is thus no fluffiness in this root word, but rather an intelligent choice leading to life-changing abundance.
John the Baptist prepared the way for the people of his day to receive redemption through the death and resurrection of Messiah, reprimanding the religious Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, saying to them, ‘You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance,’ (Mat 3:7-8). This clearly indicates that faith without repentance is fruitless. The gospel, according to the Acts of the Apostles, was never presented without a call to repentance; thus Peter proclaimed, ‘Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,’ (Acts 3:19). [See also Acts 2:38; Acts 5:31; Acts 20:21.]
A life continuing ‘in the ignorance and hardness of heart’ will not produce ‘fruit in keeping with repentance.’ The principal teachings of the apostles clearly state that change should become ‘a way of life’ as we continue our walk of sanctification in Christ Jesus, our Messiah. To the Romans, Paul wrote, ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect,’ (Rom 12:2). [See also Eph 4:20-24.] James, the brother of Christ, laid the same foundation, indicating that the Word should become a mirror to convict us, effecting change through repentance and obedience, (James 1:22-25). [See also 2 Cor 10:3-6.] In fact, James call us to a humble walk as we continue to draw near to God, having an attitude of ‘misery, mourning, and weeping,’ as we detect sin in our lives, (James 4:4-10). [See also 1 John 1:5-10 & 1 John 2:1-2.]
Repentance is thus not ONLY essential in our initial conversion to faith in Messiah – it remains essential to CONTINUE with an attitude of repentance in our walk of faith. Without an attitude of repentance, we cannot attain to the full image and stature of Messiah (Col 1:28-29), changing from glory to glory through the renewing of our minds, (2 Cor 3:18). Ultimately, a willingness to change the way we think will inevitably affect our choices and will bear much fruit in the abundance of life and peace predestined as our spiritual inheritance, (John 10:10).