flyingfarther asked: I’m really confused about repentance. If repenting means turning from sin and running to God, how can I possibly repent if I think the sin might happen again? I really wish I could say it won’t every happen again but… I can’t promise to be perfect the rest of my life as much as I’d like to. I’m still sinful. How does repentance work when the weight of future sin weighs on your heart? This confusion makes me feel like the Enemy has me where he wants me, and I’m terrified.
Unka Glen answered: Here we have the vast expanse between the heart and the head. You gave us the proper Sunday School definition of repentance, that it involves turning away from a pattern of sinful behavior and towards a more Godly life, but in your heart you clearly believe in an entirely different definition of repentance: a promise that it will never happen again.
In this personal and unbiblical definition of repentance, God apparently forgives you only because you promise to never do it again, and if you do it again, then the forgiveness is off. In this scenario, which all too many of your fellow Christians believe, YOU are the thing keeping your relationship with God in good shape.
You’ve heard of Jesus? That’s His job.
When Jesus died on the cross, He paid for all the sins of the world… past, present, and future. This, in your mind, can’t be true, otherwise we could just all sin and it would all be okay, because it’s all paid for. Paul answers that question in Romans 6:1-2 “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”
What Paul is saying, is that you’ve chosen to live a new and different life, one that involves following Jesus, and the longer you follow Him, and the closer you follow Him, the less sinful you will be. Nobody thinks that choosing to follow Jesus on Monday makes you sinless on Tuesday.
So, you may ask, if it’s paid for, if my life is heading generally in the right direction, and I’m listening to the Good Shepherd’s voice, then what does my sin mean? Actually, not much. As a follower of Christ, your goal is to live more righteously, not less sinfully.
Of course, as you choose to live a more and more righteous lifestyle, you’ll find it necessary to leave certain sins by the side of the road in order to properly pursue that goal. However, the reverse is not true, choosing to live less sinfully for it’s own sake doesn’t lead to a more righteous lifestyle, otherwise the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day would have been praised by Jesus, instead of harshly rebuked.
So you’re walking this path, and you make a mistake along the way, or maybe an old bad habit from an old bad part of your life is still hanging around, and you recognize the situation, and you see the need to repent… Then what?
Imagine you come to a fork in the road in front of you. The left hand path is about feelings. You feel bad about your sin, you feel agony over it, you weep, you wail, you mourn, you grieve. And when you’re done piling all that guilt on yourself, facing God with all this shame is the last thing in the world you feel like you can do.
And now you know who set up that left-hand detour.
The path on your right however, is about thinking, planning, and strategy. Your goal is to follow Jesus, does this old bad habit of (oh let’s just pull one out of thin air) masturbating interfere with this goal? Probably not much. Does your sudden drop off in Bible reading and church attendance negatively impact how you reach your goal? Very likely.
So some of your sins are really just background static (and possible demonic distractions), while other sins might be threatening to derail the train. So yes, you repent of these sins, but you don’t have time to wallow in guilt, you’ve got a Bible to read, and you’ve got a church to attend.
Remember, your goal is to let God prioritize these sins, and focus on them one at a time, and really knock them out. And as for the rest, well, God is patient, so you can be patient as well.
The enemy doesn’t care if you get rid of little out-of-the-way sins like masturbation, cussing, or you name it, in fact, the enemy will get you focused 24-7 on masturbation, as long as you don’t focus on the fact that you’ve bought into a series of lies about God that currently have your walk run aground as you wallow in guilt, shame, and fear. You want a place to start repenting? Start with rejecting those lies.
Romans 2:4 “…do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”
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