Monday, August 22, 2016

REPENT OR TURN

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2Ch 7:14)

Wicked? God’s people?

Surely not!

Our theology simply will not allow for such a possibility.

Actually, that last statement is an oversimplification of the reality.

It is NOT our theology that keeps us from admitting that we might be wicked. It is our man-centered self-focus that keeps us from agreeing with God in this matter.

Please understand.

I am certainly aware that we at least pay lip-service to this concept. Any time there is a gathering where this verse is the focal point, there are long prayers with the oft-repeated phrase “…and we repent of…”

If that is all that is necessary for God to hear and heal, then I owe the Body of Christ an apology, for I am once again reading from a weird translation. I must not have the same Bible as everyone else.

My copy of the scriptures reads “…turn from their wicked ways…;” not just say, “I’m sorry.”

HOW WE GOT HERE

The church has been taught to do and believe this by those who should know better. A few decades ago, someone came up with the ‘understanding’ that the word ‘repent’ means to ‘change one’s mind.’

The reality is that the word in the Greek translated ‘repent’ is a compound word (a word made up of two separate words like basket + ball = basketball). That word is μετανοω (metanoéō). The compound is meta+noéō, which means “with thought.”

Therefore, we have taken the bible word ‘repent,’ which is the translation of this compound Greek word, and applied its derivation as the definition.

Allow me to now muddy the waters even moreso.

“Change one’s mind” would be a perfectly legitimate meaning if we applied the biblical concept of ‘mind’ to our understanding.

But, we don’t.

We apply our modern understanding which is a filter of political correctness. We are continually bombarded with the idea of the necessity to “change our mind” about this, that or the other thing—in other words, to become more tolerant of something to which we are opposed.

We unwittingly allow this process to affect and infect our thinking about what it means to repent.

We simply change our mind.

About what?
About the sin with which we are confronted.

However, because it goes through this faulty filter mentioned above, we actually come around to accepting the sin, because there is no real call to change.

Notice, though, the word that is used in our verse under consideration—TURN.

Oops.

We now come face to face with the true meaning of “repent.”

You were going in one direction, but now you are going in the opposite direction.
For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; (1Th 1:9) (emphasis added)
That is a change of direction. Going towards idols, but turning from them and towards God.

That, my friend, is repentance in a nutshell.

Does that not involve a “change of mind?”

Yes, it does; but it doesn’t stop there. There is an action that follows.
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matt 3:8) 
Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Luke 3:8)
But shewed 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 26:20)
The word translated ‘turn’ in our passage from 2 Chronicles means “return,” and is so translated 391 times out of the 1,066 times the Hebrew word is used—about one third of the time.

The picture thus given is that of God’s people having left Him in favor of something else, and now they are being encouraged to return to Him.

That ‘something else’ is referred to as our “wicked ways,” which we will look at next time.

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