Thursday, October 6, 2016

Devotion: Repentance

Many believe that in order for someone “to repent” meant for them “to turn from his or her sinful ways.”  This is not exactly what “to repent” means.  According to the Strong’s Concordance, “to repent” actually means, “to change one’s mind.”  It was John the Baptist who was in the wilderness preaching “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4).  He was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins” (CEB).

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).

John the Baptist was telling everyone that the kingdom of God was at hand; that it was near or soon to come, but now was the time for them to change their hearts, now was the time for them to change their minds.  He was telling them that now was the time for them to change their thinking and to believe in this gospel, the good news that he was preaching.  He was calling for them to change their minds about what they thought of God and turn back to him.

Paul, formally known as Saul, was explaining to King Agrippa, the son of King Herod, what had happened on his last mission.  On his way to Damascus, armed with the full authority and commission of the chief priests, to round up those who believed in Jesus Christ, Paul was blinded by a very bright light from heaven.  He heard the voice of the Lord, who told him that he had been appointed as the Lord’s servant and as a witness of what he had seen and what the Lord would later show him.  He was told that he was being sent to the very people he would be delivered from, his own people and the Gentiles, for one purpose.

“To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.  Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:  but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:18-20).

Paul was being sent out to open the eyes of the people and to open their minds.  He was to change their way of thinking so that they would turn from the darkness and the power of Satan to the light and to the power of God.  He was to change their thinking about God.  As Paul explained his actions to King Agrippa, he said, “I wasn’t disobedient to that heavenly vision.  Instead, I proclaimed first to those in Damascus and Jerusalem, then to the whole region of Judea and to the Gentiles.  My message was that they should change their hearts and lives and turn to God, and that they should demonstrate this change in their behavior” (Acts 26:19-20 CEB).

We see that John the Baptist and Paul preached the same message of repentance.  Both were telling people to change their mind, to change their thinking about God and to turn back to God.  And while many will continue to believe that true repentance means “to turn from one’s sinful ways,” you now know the truth.  Repent means “to change one’s heart and one’s mind; to change the way one thinks.”  It is the actual act “of turning back to God” that actually causes people to change their sinful ways.  Think about it this way, if it was possible for us to change or turn from our sinful ways, there would be no need for us to turn back to God for his help.  It is because of God, through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, that we have available to us the power to break from the darkness, to break from the power of sin, and to break from the power of Satan.  But first, we must change our heart towards God and change our thinking towards God.  True repentance will result in a change of actions, but it is “the change in our heart, the change in our thinking” that results in a change in our actions.

As a footnote to Paul’s story, when he was testifying before King Agrippa, we see the King making this statement to Paul; “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28 NKJV).  Paul had almost changed the thinking of this King.  So, if you have not changed your heart toward God, changed your thinking towards God, and changed your thoughts toward the light, then you need to “repent” now, for the kingdom of God is near and at hand.  Turn to God and free yourself from the darkness, free yourself for the power of sin, and free yourself from the power of Satan.

We pray that today’s inspirational message will give you a new perspective on what it means “to repent and turn to God.”  We also pray that this message will bless you, inform you, and that you will be the better for having read it.  If blessed by this message, please share so that others may be blessed as well.  Amen.

Enjoy your blessings. - KW

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