I was a freshman in college and heard a pastor teaching on repentance say ‘Repentance is not a one time thing, but a lifestyle.’
Even after absorbing this fresh perspective on a word I had known for years having grown up in the church, shame still found a seat at the table of my confession of sin. ‘Repentance is a 360 degree turn from sin to God’ they always said.
Proverbs tell us “You can’t whitewash your sins and get by with it; you find mercy by admitting and leaving them.” (28:13, MSG)
Jesus said, “I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who don’t need repentance.” (Luke 15:7, CSB)
Dallas Willard said “Repentance is not beating your head on the floor or feeling bad about your sins — it’s to re-think your thinking so as to change the way you’ve been thinking and acting. We repent in light of the gospel of Jesus.” It wasn’t until a few years ago God rethreaded my practice of repentance by making it a doorway to more joy in my life.
Repentance and joy go together when I see my sin and myself as God sees.
Seeing my sin as God sees it is the only real way to pull it up by the root. It helps me lay out all the pieces and look at them honestly. But without also seeing myself as God sees me, shame, condemnation and pride tend to find a seat at the table with all sorts of accusations.
Knowing He knows my past, present and future and loves me completely. Knowing He has clothed me in Christ. Knowing He promises to forgive me and offer grace every single time I confess.
Acts 3:19-20 says “Therefore repent and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send Jesus, who has been appointed for you as the Messiah.” (CSB) The Living Bible says it this way: Change your mind and attitude to God and turn to him so he can cleanse away your sins and send you wonderful times of refreshment.
Jesus not only bridges the gap for us sinful people to our holy God, but He gives us permanent access to the Father’s unchanging mercy and love for us (Ephesians 2). We in Him and He is in us, our high priest able to empathize with our every weakness (Hebrews 4:15-16). Because we are in Jesus, we don’t have to crawl under the table and hide when we notice and confront our sin, but instead come as close as we can get to His throne and see His smile of love as we ask for forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Seeing my sin and my self rightly, as God sees, is the only way I step confidently through repentance’s doorway and experience not only genuine joy but more of God.