" Repentance is not a Dirty Word" Pastor Gus Lohrum
Matters of the Mind
Repentance is Not a Dirty Word
Psalm 19, James 1:19-25
January 20, 2019
We continue in our sermon series, Matters of the Mind. The emphasis of this series has been that as disciples of Jesus, we are called to think like Jesus. In biblical times if you were being discipled by a rabbi you would be influenced by his teachings so much that in a sense you would be an extension of the thinking of that rabbi to some degree.
We see this is in a variety of arenas of life, don’t we? This week the pro football playoffs are winding down and today the two divisional championship games will be played. Sportscasters have been having discussions about assistant coaches who coached under some of the current great head coaches like Bill Belichick or Andy Reid. Sportscasters refer to these assistant coaches as “disciples” because these assistant coaches have absorbed so much from their mentors that they think, and coach like them.
However, the most reasonable and hopefully 100 % truth we all agree on is that none of us who know the teaching of Jesus think like Jesus all the time.
We don’t necessarily have the mind of Jesus in us when some one cuts us off in traffic.
We don’t necessarily have the heart of Jesus in the moment someone takes advantage of us or we see something we desire that may not be the best for us or others.
Yet in the first message of this series, we heard those great words from the Apostle Paul who said, “Let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” I’ll bet you a free meal at Taco Bell the words, “let this mind be in you” is written in the future tense – meaning it is an ongoing process to have the heart/mind of Jesus steering our lives, our motives and actions.
Big Question – But how do we get there from here in the sense of having the heart of Jesus, the mind of Christ, (those concepts can be used interchangeably), how do we have his mind more and more in the leadership of our lives?
A key piece to the puzzle is the biblical principle of repentance.
Definition of repentance - The word repentance in the biblical sense means to “change one’s mind.” It means to change in radical ways. It means to get your heart/mind and life moving toward God rather than away from God.
I think if we’re honest, repentance can seem like a dirty word. I bet for most of us just the mention of repentance, stirs up more discomfort than excitement. Here’s one reason why I make that assumption.
I googled the following question this week. The question was, “What are the most popular and requested Bible studies? I came across two interesting findings.
The top fifteen studies included topics like gratitude, love, the end-times, finding comfort, etc.
The most popular podcasts were about women’s issues, poverty, love, etc.
Nothing wrong with any of those topics – great topics.
But neither list of the top 15 or 20 most popular topics requested included the topic of repentance.
But just think, the first sermon Jesus preached was on repentance, but most of us might think it was the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus begins by saying “blessed are you when…”
I know spending about 15 minutes on Google reviewing the most popular studies for Christians doesn’t qualify for solid scientific research; but do you think it could be an indicator about our human nature? It could be an indicator about our tendency not to run toward opportunities to change our minds or scrutinize our deep convictions of our hearts. There are a variety of reasons why we resist repentance/changing our thinking, especially when we keep in front of us that the biblical word repentance carries a connotation to change in radical ways.
REPENTANCE IS A PART OF GOD’S GRACE
Maybe we need to be reminded that repentance is a part of God’s grace reaching out to us.
Romans 2:4 states, “Do you not know that God’s kindness is to lead to repentance.”
II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all come to repentance.”
Repentance is a part of God’s action to save us from ourselves. I want to show a 3-minute video clip from Christian apologist and author Ravi Zacharias. He is answering a question and the question is what is the greatest lie we are told by our culture?
We all know the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Whether you interpret the story of the Garden of Eden literally or not; its truth continues to play out in life. Left to our own thinking and choices, we can have the world by the tail, and we’ll wreck it, and Tiger Woods isn’t alone.
We need repentance because all of us have taken a bite out of the apple of the notion that we can do life our way and not pay any consequences. We can still think this way as Christians. We will sometimes even claim we have God’s blessing and God is on our side.
THE PROCESS OF REPENTANCE
Repentance is a gift because we live everyday sandwiched between who we are and who God calls us to become. James 1:19-25 is a great example of how we need to experience repentance.
Even though, the word repentance doesn’t appear in this text this is repentance in action.
Verses 19-20 point to one example of thinking/heart that lacks the mind of Christ, and that is anger that isn’t seeking God’s righteousness. Thinking that is quick to speak and slow to listen. So, James is telling the believers, you need to change your direction, flip the script and be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. There are times and issues to be angry just don’t rush to those moments. Easier said than done, sometimes, right?
James is pointing out that God loves you enough to call you to a better way to live and the better way to live with one another means your going to have to go deep within your selves to change.
James takes it a step further and says, “you need to rid yourself of sordidness and rank growth of wickedness.” In other words, he is saying, go a different direction of how you are living.
The imagery in the Greek that come along with the words of rid yourself of sordidness comes from a meaning about something that has soiled your clothes. Your kids go out side to play in their school or church clothes instead of changing and they come back in with the grass stains.
As Christians we need to ask what do we allow to stain our minds/hearts? What do we read, who do we listen, what do we watch, what do we allow to have access to our minds and our hearts?
Maybe your mindset needs to change regarding people you perceive have mistreated you? Bitterness has stained your thinking and it needs to go.
Maybe your mindset needs to change on how you perceive people you have differences and disagreements with? The stain of arrogance or intolerance needs to go.
Martin Luther King Day is Monday. Dr King’s holiday should help us reflect. Maybe you struggle with assumptions and biases toward certain people because of their race, customs, or political views. If we are apt to think “they are all that way” whoever that "they" might be, the stain of prejudice is on our hearts and there is a need for repentance.
James said, “welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.”
WE REPLACE WITH HUMILTY/MEEKNESS.
The meaning of meekness that James describes is about having a heart/mindset that is grateful and inviting God into your mind/thinking/heart/motivations.
“Welcome with meekness.” Have you ever had someone stop by to see you at your home and you were humbled that they thought enough to come by and visit you? Perhaps it was some one who lived out of town and they called ahead and took the time just to see you. When they come to the door, what do you do, you slammed the door shut! No, you’re appreciative and grateful they came by and you welcome them inside to be with you.
REPLACE WITH GODLY WISDOM/TRUTH
James said, “Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls.” The mind of Christ grows in us as we invite and welcome God to shine the light of God’s wisdom and truth, especially through the use of scripture on any aspect of who we are and give us new direction where new direction is needed.
Author and speaker, Lisa Bevere has said, “Repentance is the action of exchanging the lie that holds us captive for the truth that sets us free.”
We cannot experience that freedom if we don’t humbly welcome God’s truth to lead us.
ILLUSTRATION: I recently heard one preacher say that repentance and confession of our sin is necessary like getting your teeth cleaned twice a year. Nothing fun is there about going to the dentist and hearing and feeling those tools scrape and pick at your teeth, the electric dental grinder cleaning the plaque from our teeth, and for me the worst is the cold water shot into my mouth by which to rinse. Can’t they warm that water a bit? But we go through the cleaning process to avoid tooth decay and promote health.
REPENTANCE IS NECCEARY TO AVOID SPIRITUAL DECAY AND PROMOTE HEALTH.
Spiritual decay starts when we lack an appetite for God, or we think there is really nothing to learn about God and God’s will for us.
Spiritual decay happens when we are not a student of the Bible.
Spiritual decay happens when our mindset constantly tells us were okay like we are.
Illustration: A new commercial on television has a man walk into car repair shop and ask the mechanic whether the mechanic can repair breaks. The mechanic says the job they do is okay. The customer asked, “just okay.”
Repentance is not a dirty word if we desire our relationship to God and the impact of our church to be more than just “okay.”
If we believe the meaning of the words to the three songs, we opened the service with then God’s power, holiness, purity, love and truth calls us to live more than just okay.
“Of all acts of man, repentance is most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.” Thomas Carlyle
I suppose we avoid or don’t repent largely for one of two reasons, we either fear God will not forgive or answer us, or we fear giving up what we’re currently holding onto.
Verse 21 is compact and complete.
It tells us why repentance is necessary.
It tells us what makes repentance possible.
It tells us how repentance works?
Repentance is not just for the failures, it is for all seasons of life to find hope and direction from God.
Churchleaders.com - Story of 12-year-old girl read the bible in one year. (For the story go to https://churchleaders.com/news/341842-teen-finishes-the-bible-one-day-before-her-death-inspires-others.html.
Repentance helps us breath new hope and strength from God.