United Church of God

We Begin With Repentance

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We Begin With Repentance

MP3 Audio (23.12 MB)
handout (393.34 KB)


We Begin With Repentance

MP3 Audio (23.12 MB)
handout (393.34 KB)

Repentance is how we begin the process of self examination, self correction, and self awareness. Repentance is the process whereby we change the direction of our life towards life rather than death. Repentance has real psychological and spiritual benefits. Repentance has an ongoing role in the life of every believer!

I made reference to a handout of a scripture list. You can access a PDF of that handout here - https://www.ucg.org/system/storage/serve/1350896/handout.pdf


We Begin With Repentance

Repentance is where the message of Christ and His church begins. When John the baptist came to lat the groundwork for Jesus he taught a message of repentance.

Repentance is how we begin the process of self examination, self correction, and self awareness. Repentance is the process whereby we change the direction of our life towards life rather than death. Repentance has real psychological and spiritual benefits. Repentance has an ongoing role in the life of every believer!

Today we will discuss repentance using this same outline: 1) the message 2) self examination 3) changing to a life giving direction 4) benefits of repentance 5) the enduring role of repentance in your life after baptism.

  1. The Priority of The Message

Our Creator has a message for humanity. It begins by presenting the need for repentance. Left alone human beings do not see the need to repent change... yes, we might alter aspects of our behavior to improve our health, or our bank account... we might want to change the political scene to make physical life better... but repentance and change that reaches down into the depths of who we are and how we see our selves? No.

We see ourselves mostly as being on the right track… perhaps a little adjustment here or there but mostly good. God comes on the scene to say otherwise.

Human beings only know there is a need for  change/repentance... because our Creator tells us so. We only know we are dead in our sins because God breaks into our self-satisfied reality and tells us so. Which is why so many of us don't really like God... some rejecting Him outright... some creating a fictional version of Him which they can make say what they want to hear.

Jesus [representing the true God] began His teaching by declaring the necessity of repentance... the Church of God  takes over where Jesus left off and declares the necessity of repentance... that message is not just for Jews, not just for those being sanctified... it is a message for everyone.

Mark 1:14 Jesus teaching begins with declaring the necessity of repentance

Acts 2:38 the Church teaches repentance as the appropriate response to the news of Christ's atoning death 

2 Peter 3:9 God's mercy, His patience, His discipline, the suffering of His saints and prophets... is to get people started on the path towards eternal life through repentance. And … it is the necessary for everyone.

Repentance is not a popular message!

  1. Repentance and Self Examination

When we become convicted that God's righteous commands really do define righteousness… and really are the path to eternal living... we logically compare our lives against that standard. Then we begin to realize how much we fall short of the high standards set by Christ. The result: we feel bad!

As a rule human beings don't like feeling guilt, remorse, sorrow... we look for a way to resolve or dismiss bad feelings.

  1. One way to get rid of these negative emotions bulling up is to just contradict them: ... "I have nothing to feel guilty about", "the commandments don't really mean that", "Jesus took care of that for me" etc.
  2. The other way [the biblical way] is to respond to feelings of guilt, remorse, and sorrow with repentance. Repentance seeks to resolve the problem rather than push it away.

Simple and Complex Repentance

Repentance operates on at least two levels: 1) repentance from dead works, sin, transgression of known laws SIMPLE  2) repentance which is a recognition of our true nature and its fundamental opposition to God Romans 8:7 COMPLEX.

SIMPLE: Dealing with sinful acts is necessary... and Christ's sacrifice gives us a straightforward formula for setting things right for sinful acts, [show diagram of cycle]… and this simple level of repentance is absolutely necessary. But the cycle of committing sin --> seeking forgiveness --> receiving forgiveness... is missing something... of itself this cycle does not change us.

You could go through this cycle a thousand times [lying, adultery, breaking the Sabbath]... and never address core issues such as: pride, hardness of heart, lack of generosity.

COMPLEX: Meaningful effective repentance is more than resolving feelings of guilt or sorrow over sinful actions... Complex repentance reaches down into the innermost parts of your psyche... it asks why you gravitate towards disobedience in the first place?... and it tackles the hidden problems of attitude, motivation, and emotions.

Deep repentance ... recognizes these attitudes and thought processes as bad... recognizes the need to alter, replace, or remove them... and is committed to overcoming them. Repentance is not simply compliance with a system of religion or a set of rules… it also operates on a deeper level of self awareness.

Scriptural Examples of Deeper Repentance

2 Corinthians 7:9-13 [fill in backstory] the first level of repentance is that the people of Corinth took the necessary steps to rectify the situation, confront the sin and remove it from among them. However, what Paul seems most excited about is the second level of repentance that touched upon their attitudes. Godly sorrow lead them to be diligent, indignant, fearful of God, and zealous where previously they were indifferent, and rather pleased with themselves...

Luke 18:9-14 one of the many contrasts to be found in this parable is how these two men saw themselves. 1) The Pharisee saw himself as a good person. He did that by comparing himself to other people. He's not comparing himself to the high standard of righteousness which is the glory of God...

  1. He is successful in avoiding obvious evils; theft, adultery... he has spiritual discipline [fasting]... he's a diligent tithe payer.
  2. Perhaps, its because of this success that he cannot see his pride and hard-hearted contempt for others... attitudes God hates and which this man needs to repent of.

2) the other man knows he has problems and needs to repent. Is he comparing himself to others or to the holiness of God? The parable does not say and we don't know. But the God's eye view of these two men is focused on the inner motives and attitudes.

God very much wants us to avoid evil and do good... but He wants us to go to an even higher level! 

Job 1:1-5 Job was a very good man... he always did what was right.. and this was very pleasing to God. But God allows him to be subject to terrible trials and suffering. In the process of all this pressure and testing a problem comes to the surface... Job was proud of His righteousness. Proud to the point where he would argue that God was treating him unfairly... even wishing there was some higher power he could turn to in his complaint against God.

Job 38:1 answering out of the storm indicates that Job had some sort of direct encounter with God [compare to Moses, Elijah etc.]. God's response is 2 chapters long and is basically a call for Job to see himself in relation to God the Creator... rather than his relative righteousness among men.

Job 40:3-4; 42:5-6 when I compare myself with the absolute standard of righteousness... I have nothing to say.

Very often we only begin to see areas where we need to repent when we are in a crisis: physical pain, loss of status, loss of possessions, life threatening situation. Consider Paul:

Philippians 3:4b-6 Paul was a very righteous man by the written standards of the law. But he was also violent, filled with nationalistic pride, unmerciful. Even though he was doing everything God's law was telling him to do... God wanted Paul to repent. And the only way he could get Paul to stop and rethink what he was doing was a direct intervention... during which he struck Paul blind. That's a crisis...

Philippians 3:7-9 Paul was driven to a point of repentance that went beyond the letter of the law. He came to understand the righteousness of Christ... which took that same law and channeled it through  a mindset of love, mercy, humility, and outgoing concern. It was a radical change for a man like Paul... he didn't stop being obedient, law abiding, zealous... but he repented of his outlook, attitudes, and perspectives and went on to pursue the higher righteousness of Jesus Christ.

  1. Benefits of Repentance: Trust and Surrender Lead to Peace and Joy

Repentance begins our spiritual journey. In repentance we cry out to God for forgiveness. We accept Jesus Christ as our savior. We surrender ourselves completely to God: and make a conscious decision to obey:

1) we commit to a change in our behavior and obedience We surrender our  self to his will and do what He instructs us to do 

2) we commit our self to a complete rewiring of our mind and spirit. We trust God to take control of our life, to use instruction, together with trials, suffering, and other life experience to learn about our self... often to learn the awful truth about our self... and work together with Him to change it.

Neither of these commitments is easy or pleasant.

We may be tempted to take back control of our life… stop trusting in God so much… stop surrendering when we think God is asking too much of us.

But when we put trust and surrender together with confidence and Faith in God’s ability to deliver we can experience a combination of peace and joy.

  1. Repentance is a Life-Long Process

Repentance precedes and leads to baptism... which leads to receipt of God's holy spirit through the laying on of hands. The holy spirit then leads us into a new way of living which seeks to obey God's commands and do His will… and we do this, motivated and guided by the love of God.

Repentance does not end when the goal of baptism is achieved… Repentance has a continuing role in your life.

1 John 1:8-2:2 A committed follower of Christ must continue to confront and overcome sin in his or her life. Sometimes we might slip back into our old ways. If so, we need to repent, seek forgiveness, let those sins be covered by Christ's blood. 

Colossians 3:5-10 likewise, our battle with our attitudes, motives, and emotions continues as well. These often remain hidden until they are revealed by some sort of crisis, trial, sickness, persecution... and God leads us into these things so that we might accomplish that deeper level of repentance that develops the mind of Christ and and the great love of God in us.

2 Corinthians 4:16

  1. What Does God Want From Us?

We know that if we compare our self to the full righteousness of Christ which is the glory or God... we will always fall short…. whether we are considering actions or the deeper rooted attitudes…  So… if it is not possible for us to ever quite get there... never go all the way... what is God looking for? When he peers into our heart what does He want to see?

One thing He wants to see is… Desire!

Psalm 119:5-10