Today’s sermon is part of a series called ‘Gospel Renewal’. Last two Sundays we covered topics on Prayer & Humility. And today we’re going to talk about Repentance.
Through these sermon series, I believe we are discovering how to consistently live all of life under the influence of the gospel. And as we do that one of our greatest needs in gospel-centered living is to understand repentance accurately and biblically.
Firstly, I want to begin by defining the word Repentance, because it seems many of us have a different understanding of the word.
The word Repentance in Greek is the word ‘metanoia’, and ‘metanoia’ essentially means ‘change in mind’.
The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.
It’s like leaving your home to go to the market, instead on the way, you change your mind and decide to walk towards the mall.
It is impossible to truly change your mind without that causing a change in action.
That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
A person who has truly repented of his sin and exercised faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life .
The passage I want us all to look at today is 1 John 1:5-10
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
First of all, remember, John is writing this letter to the believers in Ephesus. What John is saying is that when you talk about having fellowship with God & practicing the truth, you need a ‘change of mind’. You need to Repent.
Here’s what he is saying…
If we say we have fellowship with God while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
As we hear these words of John, and think about the application in our lives, let me give you a mental image of where our Christian is with regards to this particular situation that John is talking about.
When we were born in this world, we were born sinful and wicked. And no matter how cute and pretty the new born babies look, the truth is, their heart is disconnected from God.
The reason we are born sinful is because as humans, when we were first created by God in His image to worship Him – We were given the freedom to choose the right thing, we misused our freedom and willfully chose what was against God.
Our disobedience not only disconnected us from having a healthy relationship with God, but it also invited his wrath and anger. And since we were all born out of the first humans Adam and Eve, we all inherit their sinful nature, and a broken relationship with our creator God & are worthy of his wrath and anger.
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death – which is what we deserved
John 3:16 – But God so loved the us that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 3:24 – all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:24 – but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus came to earth and lived the perfect life in our place, took the penalty of our sins and paid the price on the cross, and in return gave his righteousness to us.
He took our dirty unrighteous garments and gave us his righteous garments.
Now when God looks at us, he is looking through the filter of His son, claims us back from the world, embraces us and calls us his own.
Brother & sisters, when we are confronted with this truth, there is a transformation that happens in our heart. For the first time we truly repent of our sins, believe in the gospel & eventually make a public declaration of our faith through Baptism.
Do not be mistaken – When this happens, God forgives all our past, present & future sins. We stand justified before him forever.
He says nothing can separate us from his love – neither physical death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39
But, a lot of people think that we only repent of our sins & believe in the gospel once for all and there is no need to repent & believe again and again.
People who think that way forget that even thought our soul is set free from eternal condemnation, we still continue to live in our flesh and in this corrupt world. Our bodies are trapped here until we die or until Jesus returns.
We also forget that as we continue to grow in our faith, there are two things happens in our heart & mind. We grow in the awareness of God’s holiness and we grow in the awareness of our sinfulness.
And if we don’t walk in daily repentance, we can go into two different directions. Let me explain.
When we focus only on the Holiness of God, we easily get into a performance mode. And when we only grow in realization of our sinfulness, we get into a pretending mode. And both these places are harmful for us.
They stop us from experiencing a spirit filled Christian life.
In our passage today, John is talking to believers who are bent towards the pretending mode. People who are pretending to have fellowship with God and walking in the light but are in darkness and unwilling to admit that they are drowning in sin.
Listen carefully as I read the passage again.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
And here’s the solutions John offers
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
To bridge the gap between God’s holiness and Our sinfulness, the only way we can do it is when we live a lifestyle of repentance by confessing our sins to God & believing in the Gospel.
Here’s what happens when we do that daily. We grow in appreciation of what Christ has done for us on the cross. Our heart grows bigger and bigger each day.
God performs chemotherapy on us, killing the bad cells of our sinful nature and producing new ones. Changing our stony heart into a heart of flesh.
Biblical repentance frees us from our own devices and makes a way for the power of the gospel to bear fruit in our lives.
We never stop needing to repent and believe.
And as we do that, there are two reasons they happen. The first is, we express the genuineness of their faith. The second reason is, we maintain a close relationship with the Father in heaven.
Finally, as I close, let me highlight three things about repentance one gain.
- As Christians, we don’t repent daily because we fall off and become unbeliever again as we sin. The first time when we truly repented of our sins, he fully accepted and has given the entry pass to his Kingdom.
- As Christians, we repent so that we daily grow in appreciation of what Christ has done for us on the cross.
- We repent and confess our sins because we have the confidence that God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.