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Crocodile Tears.

Discussion in 'Discipleship: Following Jesus' started by aiki, Jul 30, 2021.

  1. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Matthew 3:8
    8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

    It's been my observation that the matter of repentance can become a murky thing, a mixture of conviction of sin, guiltiness, some crocodile tears, confession of sin, restitution at times, vows to forsake sin, recommitment to Christ, and so on. Repentance, like the matter of love in Christianity, has been made synonymous with its effects. Love produces obedience; it produces joy; it produces "holy habits" of life. But love isn't these things; it exists prior to them and gives rise to them - like an apple tree exists prior to the fruit it produces. An apple is not an apple tree. Likewise, repentance gives rise to confession of sin, holy sorrow over sin, a forsaking of sin, etc. Repentance precedes these things, causing them, but should not be mistaken for them.

    Why? What's the problem with mixing up repentance with the fruit it bears in a believer's life? Well, before I address this question, let me clarify what I mean by "repentance":

    A change of mind; taking a new direction in one's thinking; adopting new beliefs and forsaking old ones about a particular thing.

    Often, in the thinking of Christians, repentance is coupled to the notion of sin: Repentance is always specifically from sin. But one can read in the OT that God "repented" a number of times. He couldn't, obviously, be repenting from sin, however. No, He merely "changed His mind" - as newer translations often now render the term "repent."

    So, again, why is it important to be clear and confined in the definition of repentance? A story from my experiences as a discipler may help illustrate the danger of a murky definition of repentance:

    I had a former, long-time Catholic man join one of my small-group discipleship cells. At the end of each discipleship session we would share together about personal struggles and pray for one another. The former Catholic fellow was always very quick to divulge his sin and to seek our prayers on his behalf in overcoming them. But every week he would share with us failure in the same arenas of his life. The same sins, week after week, month after month, plagued his life. He was always very ashamed of his moral failings, even shedding tears at times over his sin, assuring us that he wanted desperately to be free of his sin. But nothing changed, despite our regular and concerted prayers for God's intervention in the fellow's life.

    It dawned on me, finally, that our end-of-session prayer time had become this former Catholic fellow's new confessional. His habit in the confessional had been to divulge his sin, receive absolution, perform the penance the priest handed out, and then go right back to doing whatever he wanted. Real repentance and concrete change wasn't the goal of the confessional, as far as this guy was concerned. It was a kind of religious purifying procedure that could be performed over and over - like washing one's hand whenever they got dirty. The idea that this fellow should have a genuine, heart-level correction to his thinking - repentance - about his sin was quite foreign to him. As a result, nothing changed in his living. Why would it? His confession of his sin was never actually springing out of true repentance from the lies, the self-deceptions, that produced the sin in his life. When I suggested this to him, he immediately agreed that this was, unwittingly, what he had been doing.

    Here, then, is why guilt, confession and tears over one's sin must never be confused with, or for, repentance: None of these things constitute a change in one's thinking, a change of mind, about one's sin. One can feel intense guilt and shame about one's sin and remain unaltered in one's thinking and desire to indulge in that sin. One can confess to wicked thinking and living, weeping, even, over it, and be fundamentally of the same mind about that wickedness, deep down wanting and intending to return to it in time.

    But Christians are very quick to think that if a fellow believer has confessed their sin and sorrowed over it, that believer has truly repented of their sin. When Christians do this, they mistake the effects of repentance for repentance itself and so may be entirely deceived about what the confession and tears really mean. Worse, when they try to help this sort of believer deal with their sin, they are looking for the wrong thing entirely, urging confession and sorrow, but neglecting repentance - the changing of the person's thinking about their sin - entirely. But, if a person's thinking about their sin has not truly altered, if they haven't seen the lies in their thinking upon which all sin rests and with the light of God's truth, cut them out of their belief system, they will inevitably return to those sins, now not only false in their confession and sorrow over their sin, but learning to live in hypocrisy which grows easier and easier to do with repetition.

    Often, the problem, too, is that Christians mistake the relief of a guilty heart that has confessed to sin, with the peace of God. They think that, because they feel so much better having confessed their sin to another, something spiritual, something of God, has occurred. They take this feeling of relief as God's "stamp of approval," the "peace that passes all understanding." Even though at the core of their heart they intend to return to their sin, they feel divinely-confirmed in their confession of their sin - hypocritical though it is - because of the sense of relief from guilt that it provides. But divine peace and a sense of relief are not the same thing; a relieved conscience has nothing necessarily to do with God at all. Pressed by a guilty conscience, unbelievers will confess to wrongdoing and feel the same relief that a Christian does. Obviously, though, what the unbeliever feels is not the "peace of God," their sense of relief is not in any way indicative of things made right between them and their Maker. The same holds true for the guilty Christian, as well.

    I have not been exempt from a very confused conception of repentance. All of these errors of thought about repentance I have held in the past, living in the compromise and hypocrisy that always results. But as my understanding of repentance has been refined and clarified by God's word and by the Spirit's work in my life, the necessity for confession and sorrow over sin has diminished. As real repentance has occurred in my life, these other things have not been as necessary. This, too, helps to distinguish repentance from guiltiness and confession. Where real repentance happens, confession and sorrow over sin become the exception rather than the rule.

    As the verse at the beginning of this post indicates, repentance bears "fruit" - the "fruit" of conviction of sin, of confession of that sin and sorrow over it, and a changed life, but it is separate from and coming before these things. Have you made the mistakes I have, mixing up all of these things together, thinking that their inter-relationship makes them synonymous, and going awry spiritually as a result? I hope and pray not.


    2 Corinthians 7:10-11
    10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
    11 For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.


    Revelation 2:4-5
    4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
    5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first...

    James 4:6-10
    6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
    7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
    8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
    9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
    10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.



    More to come later.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
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  2. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Romans 12:2
    2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.


    What does repentance involve, exactly? How does a believer change her mind about her sin? How does she really, truly alter her thinking - especially about well-set beliefs, practices, attitudes and desires? God has made us to settle progressively into ways of thinking and behaving, to harden in our attitudes over time, to gradually fossilize in our values and beliefs. The longer we hold any of these things, the more set in them we will be and thus the more difficult it is to alter or forsake them. If we've hardened into the truth, the hardening is a good thing; but if we've hardened into falsehood, the end result is often eternal catastrophe.

    In any case, the transition a person must undergo, moving from a worldly, self-centered, sinful lifestyle to one centered upon Christ and the truth of God's word, is so enormous and occurs on such a fundamental level within the individual that it can only happen by supernatural power. As the apostle Paul wrote to his protege, Timothy:

    2 Timothy 2:24-26
    24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,
    25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
    26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

    To the lost, to those "dead in trespasses and sins," (Ephesians 2:1) fleshly-minded (Romans 8:5-7), alienated from God and enemies toward Him by their wicked deeds (Colossians 1:21), God has to initiate the process whereby repentance occurs. Mostly, He does this through the preaching of the Gospel, which is the "power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16). As the Gospel is preached, the Holy Spirit is at work, enlightening minds and convicting hearts (John 16:8-13), enabling the lost to repent of their godless, selfish living.

    God remains just as integral to repentance after salvation as before it. The Holy Spirit must continue to convict, and illuminate, and empower the Christian to forsake their former manner of living and move ever-deeper into the sanctified life of a disciple of Christ. (Philippians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) He will not force our repentance, however. At every turn, God waits on our conscious submission to Him before leading us on into the abundant, transformed life He intends for His children to have. (James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 5:6; Romans 6:13-22, Micah 6:8) His control of us is always contingent upon our agreement, our yielding, to His control.

    Knowledge of the truth is also vital to repentance. One cannot be set free by the Truth until one knows it; one cannot turn away from sin and deception until, in the exposing light of the Truth, one recognizes the lies one has embraced for what they are. Our minds are to be "renewed in knowledge" (Colossians 3:10) and, as they are, that divine knowledge, that truth, pierces the falsehoods, and misconceptions, and evil desires in our lives, cutting them down and freeing us from their power (Hebrews 4:12).

    The mere taking in of knowledge - divine knowledge though it may be - cannot alone bring a person to a full change of mind, to repentance from former beliefs and behaviour into the truth and holiness of the Christian life.

    Hebrews 4:2
    2 ...the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.


    Having gained a knowledge of the truth, a believer must become convinced of the truth, confident in it. "He who comes to God must believe that He is," Paul wrote. It is not sufficient merely to know that God is, to assent intellectually to the proposition that He exists; one must be convinced that it is so at a heart-level, at a level that induces corresponding behaviour. So, too, with all of the Truth that confronts a believer throughout their lives. That truth must be more than known; it must be believed. And believed such that it shapes the believer's behaviour. Mere head knowledge never touches the content of one's living; it is never reflected in one's conduct.

    Here, then, are three vital aspects of repentance:

    1.) The power of God.
    2.) A knowledge of the Truth.
    3.) A heart-belief in the Truth.


    More to follow later.
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2021
  3. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Canada
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    Hebrews 4:12
    12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.


    Almost always, repentance for the disciple of Christ is from falsehood, lies, that they have adopted, taken from the secular, God-hating world in which they live, or from the devil himself directly, or that they have derived from their own sin-cursed, carnal thinking. These three great enemies of the Christian's soul - the World, the Flesh and the devil - produce a constant torrent of philosophies, values, views of success, distractions, worldviews, and goals designed to keep us all as far from God as possible. Of course, often these things don't, on the front end, look anything like what they actually are "behind the curtain." And so, God's word warns us,

    Proverbs 16:25
    25 There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.


    At the core of every wrong thought, action or attitude that we adopt is always some kind of lie we've accepted as true. This is why the purifying, exposing, freeing truth of God's word is so vital to Christian living. God's word tells us what is really true; it confronts the lies we tell ourselves; it cuts down falsehood; it guides us out of darkness into light.

    Psalm 1:1-3
    1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
    2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
    3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.


    Psalm 119:104-105
    104 From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.
    105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.


    Proverbs 3:1-4
    1 My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;
    2 For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you.
    3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.
    4 So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man.


    Matthew 4:4
    4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”


    John 8:31-32
    31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”


    2 Timothy 3:16-17
    16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
    17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.


    We absolutely must know, believe and live in accord with the Truth God has given to us in His word, if we are to really enjoy Him as we were made to do, living free from the bondage of the many lies we so easily take up.

    So, what are some common examples of the lies that Christians embrace? Here are just a few:

    "God helps those who help themselves."

    John 15:4-5
    4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
    5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.



    "You can't love others until you first love yourself."

    Matthew 16:24
    24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

    2 Timothy 3:1-2
    1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
    2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy...



    "Follow your heart. Look inward to discover what is right."

    Proverbs 28:26
    26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But he who walks wisely will be delivered.

    Jeremiah 17:9
    9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?


    "Self-knowledge is wisdom."

    Romans 7:18
    18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

    Jeremiah 17:9
    9 "The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?


    "There is no absolute truth."

    John 14:6
    6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.


    "A Christian must never judge."

    John 7:24
    24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

    1 Corinthians 5:12-13
    12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
    13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

    1 Corinthians 10:15
    15 I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say.


    "Intolerance and narrow-mindedness are evil."

    Ephesians 5:8-12
    8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
    9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
    10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
    11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
    12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.


    2 Corinthians 6:17-18 (NASB)
    17 "Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE," says the Lord. "AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.
    18 "And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty.


    "You deserve all that the world has to offer."

    Philippians 4:11-13
    11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
    12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
    13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.


    1 Timothy 6:6-8
    6 But godliness with contentment is great gain,
    7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.
    8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.


    And so on. These are lying slogans coming to the believer from the World but there are much more subtle lies we tell ourselves:

    "My shyness is just low self-esteem and/or an introverted personality."
    "I'm not responsible for my thought-life and feelings."
    "God made a mistake in how He made me."
    "I can shrug off my sinfulness because no one is perfect."
    "I have time; I can get serious about God later."
    "So what if I sin? In Jesus I always have forgiveness."
    "God will give with one hand and take away with the other. He can't be trusted."
    "God is hard and dangerous; above all, I must fear Him."

    Etcetera, etcetera.

    There are myriad ways we lie to ourselves and/or are deceived by the devil and the World. And the more layers of falsehood under which we labor as believers, the more cut-off from God we feel, the more distant He seems, and the more frustrating, and confused, and unhappy we will be in our lives as children of God - which is exactly what the devil wants.

    Only when we begin to root out the lies that have taken root in our thinking and living, revealing them in the light of God's truth, His word, and turning from them to a Christ-centered, Scripture-grounded worldview and life - repentance - can we ever experience the abundant life God offers to us in fellowship with Himself.

    Ephesians 5:8-14
    8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
    9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
    10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.
    11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
    12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
    13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,
    14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”


    John 3:19-21
    19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.
    20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.
    21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”


    John 4:23-24
    23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
    24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2021
  4. aiki

    aiki Regular Member

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    Canada
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    Bump.
     
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