Here’s a general statement: Most—not all—adult humans tend to fear and resist change. Oaky, okay, I know—you don’t fear change; you’re the exception. I wrote most adult humans fear and resist change, not all of them.
I’m not writing about generalized changes that take place during our mortal journeys in the external world around us—technological changes, new inventions, political changes, and the like. Those types of external changes just sort of “happen” around us as we journey through life. For example, just think back a moment to the huge numbers of changes in your external world since you were born—and launched on your mortal journey.
The Big Changes
The changes I’m writing about that we tend to fear and resist are internal changes, changes to the interior of our beings—changes we must make inside us as we journey through life. Those are the hard changes most of us deal with throughout our mortal journeys.
Hey, I could just tell you outright: “Get over it. Replace your fear with faith and your resistance with compliance!” But, that’s much easier said than done, friends.
Yet, that’s exactly what God expects us to do throughout our lifetime journeys if we’re going to grow, develop, and mature as Jesus-believers.
Uh, oh, there’s that word. A word that most of us don’t like. An old-fashioned Bible word that we’d rather weren’t even in the Bible. Repent! What does that word really mean?
Do people these days need to repent like they did in Bible times? Yes, just like people did in the “olden days,” we—you—me—must repent. But wait a minute, I need to explain to you what that word really means in the Bible. It doesn’t mean what many people have been led to believe it means.
There are two words (and their derivatives) used in the original Hebrew and Greek languages of the Bible that have been translated “repent” or “repentance” in English. The most basic meaning of those Hebrew and Greek words are to change one’s mind. Period! Nope, no “Yes buts…” It just means to change one’s mind.
Maybe right now you’re thinking, “Yes, but I’ve heard that it means…” No, what you’ve heard might be wrong. It simply means to change one’s mind.
It does not mean to cry, to moan, to sob and weep at a church altar or to “walk down the sawdust trail” in a tent revival meeting, to be extremely sorry for wrongdoing, to vow never to do something again, to promise to turn away from sin, to resolve never again to commit a certain sin. Nope. None of those. Repent means to change one’s mind. Period!
Okay, that’s a very basic definition. Let’s amplify it a little just to give you a better feel for what it means: Every day I change my mind to stop living a self-filled life and start living a Jesus-filled life. A “self-filled life” simply means I want to live life my own way without any interference from God or anyone else. It means I feel I’m in charge of my own life—not anyone else—and certainly not God.
There’s a little “throne” on the inside of your life. To repent means you make a quality decision to have God rule and reign on that inner throne—instead of your own “self.”
Here’s an even more expanded, amplified meaning: repentance is to live in a continual state of changing mental awareness where I see life and reality more and more as God sees them, and think more and more like God thinks. How do we reach such a state of awareness and comprehension?
We repent by continually reading and studying the Bible and letting Holy Spirit point out what we need to change our minds about. It means that we—based upon the Bible’s teachings—are constantly changing our minds throughout our lifetimes so that we develop godly minds and think more and more like God thinks.
There are many references in the Bible that teach this concept; I’ll let you look up those references for yourself. The life of a Jesus-believer is a continual, lifelong state of repentance, of changing our minds.
Repentance is never just a one-time act a person commits in order to be “saved”! It’s a lifelong process of changing our minds. Also, it does not mean “doing penance” for a period of time after we repent or continuing to be “penitent” for a period of time after we change our minds.
The concepts of Penance and Penitence are human-made traditions not found anywhere in the Bible! Oh, after we have repented of a particular sin, transgression, or wrongdoing, there may be a period of remorse or regret; there may be times when we feel contrite; that’s pretty normal for most people; that’s okay.
But, nowhere does the Bible teach there should be a volitional period of penance or penitence after we have repented (changed our minds) about something. So go ahead and feel remorse or regret or contrition if you have sinned and repented of it.
However, don’t feel there needs to be a time of penance or penitence to make your repentance “stick”; that’s simply not taught anywhere in the Bible.
You may be asking, “Bill, isn’t it almost blasphemy to teach we can think like God thinks?” I’ll let you answer that question for yourself after you read and ponder just a few references from the Bible: Romans 12: 1 and 2; 1 Corinthians 2: 16; 2 Corinthians 10: 5; Ephesians 4: 23 and 24; Philippians 2: 5; and Hebrews 8: 10.
Don’t all such references say either directly or by inference that we are to develop the mind of Jesus? How do we develop the mind of Jesus so we think like He thinks?
By constantly repenting—constantly changing and renewing our minds based upon what we read and study in the Bible!
Reasons To Repent
There are three basic reasons (actually there are many, many reasons) why we need to develop a lifestyle of repentance. I want to make this point first—before we go any further: God doesn’t change our minds for us, and our minds don’t change by some sort of spiritual magic. No! We change our own minds using the inner power of Holy Spirit God has already placed within our human spirits. Once we change our minds, then Holy Spirit empowers us from within to change our attitudes and our behavior—based upon what we have changed our minds about.
Here are the three reasons why we need to repent—change our minds. First, God commands us to repent. You can read about that in Acts 17: 30 and 31. Repentance is not optional. Does God have the right to command us to repent? C’mon now. Who’s really in charge of your life? Who has the final word?
Yes, Almighty God—the Creator of the entire universe and of you—has the right to command you to repent. It’s not a suggestion. We are commanded by God to change our minds. And, when God directly commands us to do something, it’s probably best if we obey Him. Disobeying god can lead us into all sorts of negative situations.
Reason number two: Please refer to Romans 2: 4 for this one. We need to practice changing our minds because God is a good God—not a bad God. God is always good and never bad. (also see Psalm 119: 68) One significant flaw in the lives of many Jesus-believers is that they really don’t believe God is good.
You must decide in your own mind whether or not God is a good God or a “bad” God. If you choose to decide He is good, that can mark a major shift in your life.
If you really come to believe that God is good—everything about Him, everything He does—your life will change dramatically, when you begin to see that god is altogether good—not a stern, judgmental, vindictive tyrant—you will just naturally want to change your mind in order to be more life Him.
Not to become “goody-goody” or “holier-than-thou,” or sanctimonious, but just good: loving, upright, honorable, honest, clean-living, reliable, wholesome, dependable…
Unfortunately, some Jesus-believers and church congregations have a negative mindset causing them to feel they constantly need to remind people about the severity and judgment of God—his “badness”—in order to get them to repent.
Such Jesus-believers seem to constantly dwell on “hell fire and brimstone,” on the horrible judgments of God, on all the bad things that happen to people, on the awful calamities that people experience because they are “poor lost sinners.”
The Bible is very clear in Romans 2: 4; it is the goodness of God that leads people to rep.ent, not his “badness.” Most people know they are sinners without Jesus-believers constantly reminding them of their sin and its consequences.
John 16: 7 and 8 makes it quite clear that Holy spirit is very capable of convincing every human being of their sinful condition, without us feeling we
What’s reason number three: Read 2 Corinthians 7: 10. It reads, Godlike sorrow produces repentance.”
What is sorrow like God’s? What makes God sorrowful? Well, for starters He’s sorrowful when He sees how we hurt ourselves and constantly “beat up” on ourselves. He’s sorrowful when we choose not to live up to our potential as his sons and daughters.
He feels sorrow when we hurt and are in pain…when our relationships become broken or fragmented…when we hurt ourselves physically or with the strange, negative mind games we sometimes play with one another… Yes, God sees all those things in our lives—and more—and it causes Him to be sorrowful—not angry. That reference is about how God feels toward us at times.
Sometimes we need to see ourselves as God sees us—how we’re often our own worst enemies and cause ourselves so much pain and harm. Sorrow about things we say and do—from God’s viewpoint—causes us to repent. What am I trying to say here? God is our loving, heavenly Father, and it hurts Him and makes Him sad when his kids mess up their own lives and the lives of other people.
This is not referring to a human type of sorrow which is usually only a mere temporary emotion or feeling and doesn’t result in lasting and meaningful changes in our lives; in contrast with human sorrow, when we feel godlike sorrow it does produce meaningful and lasting changes in our attitudes and behavior.
Those, then are the three main reasons provided in the Bible why we regularly and consistently need to practice the process of changing our minds…day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year throughout our entire mortal journeys on planet earth.
I will continue this teaching about change in next month’s issue of The Traveler.
“Change your mind and then turn away from your sin so your sin won’t ruin you. Turn away from your stubborn rebellion and I will give you a new heart and a new spirit.”
–God, Ezekiel 18: 30 and 31
To Think About This Month:
“All meaningful and lasting change begins on the inside of me and then works it way out as my external behavior!”
Life Enrichment Services, Inc
Revised, updated December 2020