“Repent!” Jesus commanded, but How?
February 17, 2009, 00:46
Filed under: Uncategorized

I remember reading a tragic story years back about an incident between a recent immigrant and an armed man.  In a horrible case of mistaken identity and misinterpreted intent,  the armed man drew a gun on a fellow from Nigeria and said,  “Freeze!”   This word was not in the newly arrived man’s vocabulary and he walked forward and was shot.   Meaning is everything.  There is no communication without shared definitions.  Part of a preachers job,  the main part, is to explain the Word of God in a way that reaches the heart of the listener.   King James Only preachers spend a lot of time explaining the language to the listener.  All of us want to make sure the words of the prophets are understood,  and the Word s of the Savior made clear. 

We are preaching/teaching through Mark at Dayspring.   This past Sunday one of  the verses read and expounded upon was this:   Mark 1:15

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

You have heard this preached as have I,  no doubt many times.   How many different meanings have you heard for the word repent?  Or how many different ways has this very important passage been “unpacked” for you?   I remember it preached as ,”an about face, turning away”, J. Vernon McGee says something like  that.  I have heard it as an emotional experience of sorrow for crimes against God,  C.H. Spurgeon leaned on that.   Now these are my two favorite preachers, and when they diverge I honestly find it a bit disconcerting.  I wish they would all get along,  but you know we are Protestant.  I do not always agree with these guys,  not that I am fit to polish their pulpits,  brainbut I trust Scripture alone.    Sola Scriptura.

So what do you do when the brain-trust is not in agreement?  Your home work.

I am not schooled in Language.  When I attempted to learn Hebrew in college the wonderful and kind Rabbi Katz, said, “Maybe God has given you other gifts, but language?  I don’t think.”  Now I had a couple years of Latin , many years of  German, and a failed attempt at Russian.    These languages, at the level of proficiency I have, are of little use to a bible  scholar.  I must use a Lexicon and concordance to get an understanding.  Let me share my study. 

The word repent used here comes from the Greek word “Metanoeo”.  It occurs 36 times in the New Testament. Ten (10) times in revelation, and each time it means the same.  To change one’s mind.  Searching around I see that some scholars add an emotional element,  but if I just took the common factor that all agree on it would be, “to change the mind”. 

In the Old Testament the word we translate as repent is ” nacham”.  It has an emotional element of sorrow, or comfort.  It shows as comfort 57 times and repent 41.  Obviously there is an element of emotion here, it is almost all emotion. 

So what did Jesus want us to do?  My degree is in Psychology.  I think it gives me a different slant,  in a way.  I think He wanted us to change our minds.  Not change a decision we make like the expression is used today,   “I thought I wanted pizza, but I got a burger.”  No, I think literally He wanted us to CHANGE OUR MIND .  Change it.  Change the wiring.   Many of the  things that we once found  to be positive reinforcements now hold no appeal.  Things that were once negative, like reading the bible or hearing a sermon now are pleasing.   Distance from God that once held no concern, is now considered horrible.  Is that not what Paul said,  the things I once held so dear are now dung to me?  What a change in his mind!  Paul studied law after law and teacher after teacher, and ended up preaching the law nailed to the cross and following the Teacher that he once persecuted.  

What good is it just to feel sorry for sin?  There are those who feel bad each time after a sin but sin none the less for the pleasure it brings.  That was me.  But when your brain is rewired,  when you are deprogrammed from the lies of the Devil,  sin loses its grip, it no longer reinforces itself.   Metamorphosis is changing form,  metanoeo is a metamorphosis of the thought process itself.  Understanding the word repent is core to the message of Christ, more important than knowing the word “freeze” when a weapon is aimed.  I want to follow the command of the Savior. 

The amazing Good News, is that we do not need to do this ourselves! Luke 24:49  “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be enbued with power from on high.”

We are blessed with power from God to make this change.  That is the Good News, the Gospel,  there is a way for us to spend eternity with God. This repentance is a process.  Since sanctification is a life long work, repentance will be part of our lives until we depart, or He comes back.  

What definition do you wish to embrace?  Of course the Christian feels sorrow for causing the Savior to suffer and die,  of course we wish we had done better, differently.  But is it ours to weep, or to work?  Do we sit in a pile of ashes and scrape at the scabs of our sin?   No!  We pick up the Cross with a changed mind and follow the path of Yeshua the Messiah!  The old patterns of thought,  self above all, short term reward, disbelief and rebellion do Him no good. 

Almighty Father, Ruler of all,  thank You for the change You bring into our lives by the Quickening of our souls.  Holy Spirit mold the very thoughts of our mind to become acceptable to You.   Shape us and mold us.  We want to look like Jesus in Your Eyes.  It is in His name we pray to You, Amen.



19 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I love this! And I think you got it just right.

The being sorry and turning away never felt right. Of course I’m sorry, and if I could turn myself away I would have already done so. But the mind does change over time, and those things we once found so much fun aren’t anymore, and sometimes are shocking or upsetting.

He truly does provide our every need.

Comment by Shawn W

Amen Shawn W.! He does!

Comment by willohroots

When I saw “change your mind,” I immediately thought of Romans 12:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. –Romans 12:2

Great post.

Comment by Joe

Wow, dead on! I like the word “renewing” there,
an on going process. I hope I can count on you for more scriptural insight, Romans 12:2 said it all.

Comment by willohroots

I heard there is a new technology now that can “read” the brain. I wonder if there is a way to read true repentance vs the lack of it. Just curious. I saw your picture and made me think about the MRI testing.

Comment by Marianne

Marianne, What a tool to use in marriage counseling and Peacemaker sessions. Or not…

Comment by willohroots


Joe stole my comment!

Mike Bell

Comment by Eclectic Christian

Computers are a poor copy of human brains.
Our brains are biological hard drives.
We get hard wired to do certain things. sleeping, eating, procreation.
I think that much of our behavior is hard wired.
Much, however, maybe most, is learned.
We learn patterns that enforce our basic and secondary needs.
These patterns are hard to break.
We are practically helpless.
Minds can be changed. AA is a mind changing program. Most therapy is mind changing.
Christ indwells us and changes our minds in a deeply profound way.
Galatians 2:20
Our minds, who we are, are changed.
We become more like Him.
We are Him in that He has revieved our dead self and given it new life. His life.
Change your mind.

Comment by Rob

Rob, you and Joe have won the Scriptures award! Gal 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Comment by willohroots

so if i look around and the christians i know look and think just like the non-christians i know…

Comment by graceshaker

I don’t understand your comment.

Comment by Rob

Graceshaker is saying in essense, if there are no signs of repentance what does this mean? Are they truly Christians, are they carnal Christians? Or, to be put another way, if we know them by their fruit, what are we to think if there is no fruit.

Comment by Eclectic Christian - Michael Bell

Graceshaker’s problem is the one the world has. Christians should look a little different, one would think. I do not know. Everybody sins. Christians repent when they sin, non-believers do not. Can you see that difference? For a long time churches told us, “don’t do that or you will lose your witness” . I think the witness of a Saint is in the heart, sanctified [to what ever degree] for God looks at the heart. I would hope , and I do see, some changed hearts. Graceshaker, work with recovering addicts who have come to see the Power of the Lord. The before and after of repentance is evident there, do not look for perfection, some will surely slip and fall, but we pray that once again, and if God forbid it takes seven times seventy, they will again repent, and get back up.

Comment by willohroots

A person who repents or “changes their mind” will certainly act differently, but maybe not. They may already be acting good. Probably better than most Christians. If I see a fish sign on a car I avoid it because of the road rage. If I see a business advertised as “Christian” it is automatically eliminated from my patronage. You don’t need to put the fish in you Yellow Pages ad for people to know if you are fair and competent.
I instinctively mistrust anyone who is using the name of Christ to further their business, including the shyster preachers of the prosperity heresy.
Some of the most moral people I know are those who are trying to earn their way into Heaven.
Mormons for example or Jehovah’s Witness’ and many unbelievers or Christians who have been mislead into believing that their behavior determines their destination.
Also those whose entire world view is that we must be good to each other to be good humans.
Bad behavior may be a sign of not being regenerated but that is between God and the person.

Comment by Rob

Graceshaker may be running across a lot of immature Christians. Many churches are not doing a good job of teaching those they lead to Christ. There are way too many “how to live better” sermons going on out there and not nearly enough about how to rely on God and how to improve your walk with him.

When you are in the presence of a truly mature Christian the difference is obvious.

Comment by Shawn W

I wish I new what some churches teach. I have a better track record with people from a totally non church background, so many from churches are loaded with strange, creepy , mean, doctrine. Legalist, jugdementalist, teachings abound. Very little about Jesus and what He taught and teaches us.

Comment by willohroots

I could not agree with you more. Our Christian walk allows God to commune with us. This communion affects our mind. It renews our mind and transforms our lives. Our faith in Jesus Christ should be an all consuming faith that affects our mind, heart and will.

PS – Thanks for the comment on my blog. As a new blogger, it’s encouraging to get comments like yours.

Comment by Bro. Billy

Bro. Billy, thanks for stopping by.
All consuming faith, reminds me, luke 24 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
Let it burn away the old flesh!

Comment by willohroots

[…] (which can get me into trouble) about a post that Will had put on his blog a day or two ago about repentance.  I never managed to put anything into the comments, but my thoughts are running along these […]

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