The Purpose of Repentance, Pt. 2

“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”~~Albert Einstein

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is saporific, “producing or imparting flavor or taste.”

Today is Fancy Rat and Mouse Day. Believe it or not, we have actually had fancy rats for pets in our house. Two different times. They are fun pets. No, really.

I’m sure the burning question in the minds of the dozen or so people who read this is, “How did the dentist appointment go?” Well, I’ll tell you. It was a bad news/good news situation. After getting a couple of X-rays, and the dentist looking in my mouth for about a minute, he said it was too far gone. Not in those words, exactly, but he was unable to restore the crown. There is too much decay in the bit of tooth that is still left. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, due to the location of the tooth, and the fact that, since it was a root canal and is causing me absolutely no pain whatsoever, we can just leave it be for now. He did say that I would, eventually, have to get the tooth extracted. I’m okay with that. It feels weird, of course, but it’s not bothering me, otherwise. I liked the dentist and the people in the office, so I may keep going there, as long as I am working in Carrollton. The office is about fifteen minutes from where I work, so it’s very convenient.

In other news, today is Christi’s birthday!! Yay!! We plan to celebrate tonight by going to Hoffbrau for steaks. Hopefully, they will be saporific. (See what I did there?) I made a cake for her last night, and Stephanie helped a bit. She also ate the left over icing. 😀

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

I’m continuing to look at the purpose of repentance, springing from Martin Luther’s first of The Ninety-Five Theses, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, `Repent’ (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” At the close of yesterday’s entry, I was discussing legalistic repentance. Luther says that this kind of repentance is “self-righteous because it is essentially an attempt to atone for our own sin.” Most of us would deny this, of course, while continuing to attempt this kind of “repentance.” We would loudly proclaim that Christ died for our sins, all the while continuing to attempt to convince God that we are sorry enough that he should forgive us. Keller says that “this is not confession in Jesus’ name, but in our own name.”

The Gospel, however, reminds us that Jesus has suffered for our sins. We don’t have to repeat this suffering in order to earn God’s forgiveness. Over and over again, the Gospel tells us, in fact, that it is impossible for us to earn God’s forgiveness. I wonder why we try so hard to do that, when all we have to do is “receive the forgiveness earned by Christ.”

Consider 1 John 1:9, one of our favorite verses to quote. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. John does not say that if we confess, God will forgive because he is merciful. God is most certainly merciful, but that is not the reason John gives in this verse. He tells us that God will forgive when we confess because he is just. To turn it around, we can say that it “would be unjust of God to deny us forgiveness because Jesus earned our acceptance.” Keller goes on to say, “All those who are in Christ must and will be forgiven.”

What this understanding does is to transform repentance from being an attempt to atone for our own sin to being a “means of honoring God and realigning our lives with him.”

Make no mistake about it. “Legalistic repentance is destructive.” Consider 2 Corinthians 7:10. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. “Without a firm grasp of our free justification, we will admit wrongdoing only under great duress, only as a last resort.” (Like when your mother or significant other catches you doing something you shouldn’t be doing, or lying about it.) “We will focus on the behavior itself and be blind to the attitudes and self-centeredness behind it.” We’ve all done this . . . “I resolve to stop doing [insert favorite vice]!” This only addresses the behavior, not the mindset. “We will also take as little blame as possible, reciting all the mitigating circumstances to ourselves and others.” “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Human nature, right?

Hopefully, we can see through this that, if we have the wrong understanding of grace, forgiveness, and repentance, “we can never experience the release and relief of resting in Jesus’ forgiveness.” (Emphasis mine)

All of this from one of Luther’s theses! When we fully realize that we are loved and accepted by God, even with our sins, it becomes easier to admit them. “The more we know we are forgiven, the more we repent; the faster we grow and change, the deeper our humility and our joy.”

Father, my prayer today is almost the same as yesterday. Continue to teach me the value of this kind of life of repentance; to know that I am fully accepted and loved by you, and that, because of the suffering of Christ, I am fully forgiven! I do not need to repeat the suffering in order to atone for my own sin. Indeed, I cannot atone for my own sin, so it is insulting for me to attempt it. That’s it, isn’t it? We surely insult you when we try to make up for or atone for our own sins. A slap in our savior’s face, as it were. Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth. Unite my heart to fear your name.

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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