The Blessings of Repentance
By Mary Kroeger
To recognize the blessings of repentance, we first have to understand God’s goal for us. In Genesis 1 God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Since God is spirit, man in His image has to be a spirit man.
In Rom. 8:29 we see that God has not lost sight of His goal. It says, “Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn of many brethren.” In Christ we are a new creation! (2 Cor. 5:17) In 2 Cor. 3:18 we read, “And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.”
God’s goal for us is to be in His image! This image is revealed to us in Jesus Christ! He loved righteousness and hated evil, even as God does.
Therefore, for Adam and Eve to be in the image of God, they would have to know what evil is, and then hate it. They would also have to love righteousness! To teach them how evil, evil is, God planted the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and told them not to eat its fruit. The consequence of their disobedience was death! They now felt separated from God! They learned what evil is, but they did not know how to get back into life. They tried self-effort by sewing aprons of fig leaves. What a miserable failure that was! The thinking that we can earn righteousness by self-effort is called religion. Religion rules in the carnal mind of death.
To get back into life we have to believe in Christ Jesus - God’s provision for us! How wonderful to know that when we are in Christ, His righteousness has become our righteousness! He is the truth, the resurrection and the life! In Christ we receive His life. But before we can receive His life we have to repent of all our self-effort to become righteous. We have to repent of our wrong thinking and actions.
Many Christians only understand repentance to mean “a turning from sin.” Although regretting sin and turning from it is related to repentance, it is not the precise meaning of the word. It actually means “to change one’s mind.” This will result in a change of actions. Jesus said, “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance." (Luke 3:8) Paul, in summarizing his ministry declared, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 6:20) The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.
Change! We believe what we believe because we think it is the truth. In my teen years I met a man who believed the earth was flat. He only believed what he could see. His belief did not change the form of the earth.
His refusal to believe beyond what he could see, kept him in ignorance. We all have to repent of our preconceived ideas that are rooted in the ignorance and religiosity of the carnal mind if we want the truth, the mind of Christ! Without truth we cannot discern the lie. All revelation knowledge of God comes to us in truth! In order to grow in revelation knowledge we have to remain in Christ, listen and obey His voice! All other voices need to be shut out for they come from the liar - the devil!
This shows us the importance of repentance. If we want to grow spiritually, we have to be willing to repent of all the dogmas, rituals and doctrines that do not have truth as their foundation. Without repentance, without a change of mind that leads to a change of action, we will remain in the ignorance and darkness of the carnal mind.
All who come to Jesus come with preconceived ideas based on what they have been taught by those who only had a carnal understanding of truth. If we move out of that circle, we will feel isolated. It will also cast a shadow on the belief system of those within the circle. For example, when Jesus healed people on the Sabbath, the scribes and Pharisees were offended and wanted to kill Him. Instead of being willing to repent of their wrong understanding, they wanted to kill Him who is the truth!
Humanity’s pride breeds fear - fear of losing acceptance, fear of losing a ministry, and the fear of being a loner. These fears are great obstacles in our willingness to repent of our preconceived ideas, rituals and doctrines! It takes humility to admit that we have been believing a lie! I remember how shocked I was when I received the revelation that my thinking was wrong! After I told God how good and perfect our church doctrines were, He surprised me by saying, “Are you sure?” The way He said it caused me to burst into tears, and I replied, “If I am wrong, then show me.” He did, and I continue to reap the benefits! The purpose of revelation is not to substantiate our own ideas, but to eliminate them.
The acceptance of every new revelation requires repentance from carnal religious ides! The joy we receive in learning to know Christ in His very essence, causes us to welcome repentance!
Since we all come into this world with a mind that we have inherited from the serpent through Adam, we all need to repent of this mindset and of the actions it produces! Repentance requires a change of mind, a change of direction. Without repentance, we cannot receive a new mind - the mind of Christ!
In Christ, we receive His mind - a mind of faith, obedience, humility, and the desire to only do the Father’s will! Christ’s mind does not receive honor from people. If it did, He would become a people pleaser instead of a God pleaser. After we receive Christ, we have to learn to function in His mind! This requires obedience to the voice of the Spirit!
Since the flesh (our carnal thinking) is always against the Spirit, it has to be overcome. Obedience to the voice of the Spirit is the evidence of having repented of our carnal understanding of spiritual realities! The carnal mind is unable to receive revelation knowledge of God and of spiritual realities!
God is spirit and His words are spirit and are life! So they have to be understood spiritually. If they are understood in the futility of the carnal mind, they are thrown down into earthy understanding! Repenting of this understanding is foundational to receiving truth!
Our acceptance of revelation knowledge of God in Christ is the evidence of our repentance from our wrong thinking. Believing God, instead of our own perceptions, takes faith, because we cannot see beyond the natural. Living in the obedience of faith in the Son of God is the evidence of having repented of our own imagined, preconceived, and messed up ideas of who Christ is and what He does!
When Christ is revealed to us we see a transformed Christ - a Christ who is unlimited! We see Him high and lifted up, having all power and authority! We see the corporate Christ - Christ in you and me, and you and me in Christ! We see His power releasing us from our former thinking and unbelief! We see the exalted Christ who is able to change us into His image! Repentance brings freedom.
These are the blessings of the repentance that is ours in Christ! We become a new creation in Him! This is a spiritual creation. In its growth and maturation it has to continually repent of every thought and deed that is against the will of God! In repentance there is growth, and we are changed into the very image of Christ! This is God’s goal for us! What a high calling is ours in Christ!