1. Believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior
I always knew and was rather passionate about salvation being an easily attainable, free, no strings attached gift. That it was harder to be lost than to be saved. And that salvation was available to every human that has ever and will ever live. Believing in Jesus was a heart movement. It was easy. Once you get to know and experience who Jesus is it would be difficult to deny the hearts yearning for Christ. But then the command to repent.
For years I heard, was told, and read that repenting was a confession of sins. It was an act of asking God for forgiveness. It was an action. And with all this, it had to be a 'works' driven activity. It was not faith based. I even read that we were to not only confess the sins we had committed and were aware of but we were also to ask forgiveness for the sins we had no idea we had committed and the ones we almost committed, not yet committed and the ones we had not stopped others from committing. And we did this not because God didn't know our sins, but that He wanted to make sure we were aware of them. And with this long list, suddenly salvation didn't seem so easily attainable. It was like most everything else in society, a 'too good to be true' promise with many strings attached. The fine print was much more complex than simply believing and being saved.
This is where it always stuck in the back of my head as seeming somehow like a shoe that was beautiful and almost perfectly comfortable. Something just seemed slightly off. But I never mentioned it or even fully pursued what seemed off about this perception because of my passion, faith and belief. Until one sentence in a sermon on Easter weekend.
"Repentance is the act of putting your foot on a new path and heading into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ"
What!!!!!! Is this true??? Is this what the root of the word really means? Even the common dictionary tells you 'repentance' means the act of sincere regret or remorse.
In scripture we read that the Lord washes our sins clean. He casts them into the depths of the sea. He clothes us in His righteousness. He holds us blameless. He stands in our place. He tells us that He remembers our sins no more. He finds us without blemish, like a perfect lamb. He looks upon us as though... we were Him... and He is us. So how could this same God want us to feel regret and remorse in order to accept our free gift of salvation. Why would He want us to feel worthless and to remember all of our pain and hurt when He doesn't remember our transgressions? It just doesn't add up. It doesn't make any sense and it kills the concept and truth of a loving God. Because it creates a God who is two faced.
When I stopped to research the Greek word for repent in the New Testament it is “metanoeo” which means “to change one’s mind”. It is literally meant as "to step your foot onto a new path". 2 Corinthians 7:10-11“For Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this Godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves.”
Salvation is the believing in Jesus Christ and changing your heart. Building a relationship with Jesus. Accepting His new life into yours. It is all love and nothing but love!! God does not want us to come to him in sorrow but in rejoicing. He is the way, the truth and the light!! It should be an act filled with joy and freedom! Like the morning of a wedding of two people in love, not a court case with an impending death sentence on the line.
"Remember your transgressions no more" said Jesus, "for neither do I"
If this does not make your heart sing and leap for joy I don't know what will. If a burden is not lifted with this news, the question must be asked- what is holding your heart back?
The Lord does not wish to make you feel regret, remorse or u worthy, no, that is what the devil wants you to feel and believe about yourself. The Lord does not wish to hear your every wrong repeated to Him to make sure your heart is really sorry for what it has done, no, He was there, and His heart broke with yours in ever moment of every sin and consequence. For it is He who carries the sin we commit, not you and I. He died on the cross so that we could have the freedom to skip the second death. Not the mortal death we are all too familiar with but the forever death and separation between God and ourselves that is eternal and irreversible. He took this death to rescue us. God is only asking for you to take upon yourself a faith and yearning to follow Him. He only wants you to want Him. It is easy. It is EASY!
When we force the idea that God wants us to feel guilt and remorse in order for Him to accept us, we are transferring our own sinful, worldly, earthly view of how we want to be treated when someone does us wrong! And that is the difference between God's love and our own. The Lord wants us to believe that He is enough. That His love is strong enough to break the bondage of sin in our lives. Through Him we can turn away and walk in a new path, live a new life, through His grace. By His love (and only His love) we are changed. For it is not of our own works that we are saved, lest any man should boast, but by God's grace, and God's grace alone. Amen.