So it begins with a simple declaration. "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand". How important is this statement to the faith that we say we follow. Very important. This is the underlying message of John the Baptist. This is also the underlying message of Jesus the Christ. The message that both shared and is the call being given to every human upon the face of the earth. These two spoke of the sin that was a part of everyone's make-up. I will have you know that they were not working alone when they each proclaimed the message.
Do you know that one of the main tasks of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin? When the word is proclaimed it is He who speaks to the heart and mind of man to convict them of their sin. This is done to lead a person to the process of repentance. It is He who fans the flame of faith within the individual. This does not mean however that those who are convicted will accept the truth. Remember that the heart of man is in rebellion towards God. Yet this grace is shown to mankind; to be convicted of their own sin, their own rebellion. It is then that man will either accept the truth that God is revealing to them or they will harden their hearts thereby rejecting the knowledge of God over again.
For those who have been convicted of their own sin they are commanded, I said commanded, to repent. This is the acid test for each individual. It is not a suggestion, nor a request, nor a plea but a command. Since their own hearts know at this point that they are in the wrong, because the Holy Spirit has revealed it to them. It is then that failing to repent means they knowingly continue in their rebellion. Rebellion is no longer a hidden condition to them and thereby opens the door to correction and or punishment.
What does it mean to repent? Simply to modify your thinking. Before being convicted of your error and the truth of God you had a world view of how things worked together. It is from this that you decide how to act in various situations. When God reveals to you that your world view is incorrect and He shows you what the true view of His kingdom is, which includes the world, His command is to modify your thinking to bring it in line with what He has revealed.
To understand what it is that God is asking us to do we must look at the word; Repentance.
Repentance comes from the knitting together of two Greek words. The first is meta and means to modify. The second Greek word noieo which means to exercise the mind. Adding these two words together we arrive with metanoeo which means to think differently or afterwards.
Think of it in this way. Someone has approached you and told you something of the kingdom of God or perhaps you are reading the bible. The Holy Spirit then takes what you are being told or reading and then convicts you of sin, the error of your ways, and shows you the way to the truth. This is revelation knowledge.
It is common at this point to take what has been revealed and jump into it with both feet. I do not believe that is what the Holy Spirit is wanting you to do as an individual. He is not revealing this so you can take a blind leap of faith. On the contrary, He wants you to begin to exercise your mind and begin to modify your thinking. Whatever has been revealed to you it most likely has a much broader application.
Let me say at this point that certainly the Lord can give you immediate direction to handle a specific problem that you are facing. He can show you very quickly where you are wrong. At these times it is important to jump with both feet into the water and do what is asked. Yet He wishes to transform the way you think and this takes time. You should know that this is God's work, the transforming, yet the overall reason He reveals is to give you direction.
Repentance has for its basis the scripture; "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." This does not mean that your salvation is based on works. What it does mean is that now that you are saved you need to pay attention to what you are being shown by the Holy Spirit and begin to modify your thinking until all that you think and do is in accordance to the kingdom principles of God. This with fear and trembling. Why? Because this is so important to your well being that missing the mark can have dire consequences for you, your family, your friends and church. If you think this is not so then why did God warn us by saying, "my people perish for a lack of knowledge". Repentance is the working out of your salvation; the gaining of knowledge, the acquisition of wisdom and then walking it out in your life.
There is another Greek word, metaballo, which means to throw over or turn in your opinion. Basically to change your mind. This is not what the Lord is asking you to do. He is not asking you to change your mind about something but to modify the very way in which you think. What is the difference? Changing your mind about something is short of repentance because there is no working out of the thought in the way you lead your life. I want to go left, God says to go right, I do, but I am not changed for doing it nor understand the why behind it. An immediate response but no change of character. God does not want machines but sons and daughters who will have the same mind as Christ. Metaballo thinking will not achieve this. Metanoeo thinking, repentance, will.
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