Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Commands of Jesus: Repent!

[This is the first in a series of articles about The Commands of Jesus.]

When I was in the second or third grade I went shopping with my mom downtown. I saw a shiny nail clipper in the store that came in a really neat leather pouch. So I took it home.

Later that day my mom saw me playing with it and asked me where I had gotten it. I told her. She explained to me that I had done something wrong and that we needed to take it back.

When we got back to the store, the owner loomed over me like a giant as I sheepishly gave him back his nail clipper. That store owner seemed so incredibly tall. Perhaps it was because I was feeling so incredibly low. I had no concept of sin and repentance at that time in my life. But I sure knew that I had done something wrong. To this day I have not forgotten that imposing father-figure looming over me. A good image to remember when we do things that are contrary to the will of God.

After Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by the devil He began His teaching ministry. And what was the first thing He taught? Repentance.

"From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent. For the kingdom of heaven has come near." - Matthew 4:17

So what is repentance?

The Greeks used to word metanoia (met-an'-oy-ah) back in Jesus' day which meant a change of mind or a change in a man's heart. If Jesus felt we needed to repent, what were we doing that we needed to repent of? Well, reading the Bible can fill us in on the things we need to repent of - our sins.

So what is sin? It is anything contrary to the will of God. There are many examples of sin in the Bible. Galatians 5 has a short list.

"19  The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions   21  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." - Galatians 5:19-21

Sexual immorality is a big one these days but it is a sin that has ALWAYS been with us. Adultery, fornication (sex outside of marriage), homosexuality, lust, even thinking impure thoughts about someone else is a sin. We must repent of these things is we are to please God.

Impurity. Have you ever heard of a purity ring. Usually girl wear these to remind themselves of a promise made not to have sex before marriage. We Christians are to remain pure as well and not have any other gods besides the One True God. More on that later.

Debauchery (excessive indulgence in sensual pleasures) is usually associated with  sex but it could also be a form of gluttony if we get a sensual desire about the food we eat. Put down the Twinkies and repent!

Idolatry is a MAJOR sin we all are good at. Some people are obsessed with sports, some people love their cars or their job. They spend so much time talking about these things that they often forget about God. NOT good. Repent!

I don't know too many people who are witches but they DO exist. Before you shrug this sin off and think you're pretty safe, think about it. Have you ever used a Ouiga board? Calling on spirits is a form witchcraft. Repent!

Hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, envy - all these are against God's will for our lives. We need to repent of these things whenever they happen to us.

Drunkenness. This is a big one in the state of Wisconsin or on any college campus for that matter. Drinking to excess is against God's will. Drinking, in moderation, is acceptable. But drinking too much is not. A friend of mine lost his daughter at the hands of a drunk driver. Hmm. Drunkenness AND murder. That guy is going straight to hell! Unless, of course, the driver knew Jesus . . . which I doubt. If He truly knew Jesus he wouldn't have been drinking to excess.

Our lives are full of opportunities to sin. I can't make it through the day without stumbling in some way. We should repent of our sins on a daily basis. Repent on an "as they happen" basis. The important thing is that we seek forgiveness from God. We are God's children. We should act like it.

The Birdcage - The Skit Guys

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