Repentance is a cornerstone of Christian life,
yet when it is misunderstood – as it often is – it can cause Christians to
live with needless fear and doubt about their relationship with God.
The most common way to misunderstand repentance
is to think that to repent is to stop sinning. But since we all do
still sin despite how much we repent, we have to assume that our repentance
is not “deep” enough or “true” enough and we strive harder. No matter how
hard we try, though, sin remains in our lives, and our lack of success gives
us a growing sense of frustration and anxiety about how we stand with God.
Eventually, some burn out and give up trying.
We don’t have to go down that path. The truth
is, repentance toward God is simply not about a new and improved you and me.
It’s about a new perspective, a new way of looking at things
that were already true long before we came to see them. It’s a change
in how we think about God and about ourselves.
Repentance is not a behavior issue. It’s a
faith, or trust, issue. Jesus has already done everything that needed to be
done to restore humanity to a right relationship with God. There’s nothing
we can add to that or take away from it. Repentance isn’t about promising to
never sin again. It isn’t about striving to be a better person. Repentance
is about believing God’s word of truth about who he is and who we are.
In 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, the
apostle Paul wrote, “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness
and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in
Jesus is our life and our righteousness. We are
a new creation in him, holy and righteous not of ourselves,
but in him.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said to his
disciples, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will
give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and
humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy
and my burden is light.”
Repentance is the start of a new relationship,
a new friendship, not the start of a sinless life. Our righteousness is real
only because it is Jesus’ righteousness given to us, not because we
can achieve it ourselves. And that means it will endure forever. So we have
nothing to fear. We can take all our weariness and all our burdens to Jesus
and find rest for our souls.
I’m Joseph Tkach, speaking of LIFE.