Repentance is not hanging your head in shame and skulking around under guilt and fear. But real repentance is proactive and healthy.
Repentance is internal
Jesus never said, “How do you feel.” Emotions are reactive, they occur after something happens. You fall down the stairs and start to cry. The crying follows the fall – the crying does not precede it.
Our emotions lie to us
People who live in their emotions are usually unsuccessful. They identify as victims. Their focus is in the past and everything that either went right or wrong for them.
If they are on the top of the world, they live in a cloud of glory and happiness. If something goes wrong and they are rejected, they lash out. Most of what parents do to correct and rear children is in this area – preventing the emotional life from taking over.
Thinking precedes decisions
Meanwhile, Jesus said often, “What do you think?” The thought is father of the deed. Education is a life long exercise in thinking about what you are doing and why. One whole book of the New Testament, Philippians, is about managing your thinking. When your mind wanders, grab it by the throat and drag it back into reality.
In primitive societies people thought demons sat in the tops of trees and threw sticks at them to make them stumble. We think that is absurd now, but in reality the smallest child starts out in this world not knowing who or why things happen to them. And without guidance, they would grow up with the same notions of malicious invisible beings acting out of vengeance.
The process of thinking which leads to repentance
The Bible gives us the steps. “With the heart man believes unto righteousness and confession is made unto salvation.”
At some point an individual needs to recognize that he/she is not righteous, and that the Person involved in changing him is God Himself. This process of deep dissatisfaction with oneself is important, and it must not lead to emotional reactions of being God’s victim, or hopelessness, or abject failure. These emotions take the person away from the reality of the solution. The tendency of a human being is to be completely self-focused. And many people fall into this pit.
Corrie Ten Boom said this, “I look inside and I ‘m depressed. I look outside and I’m distressed. I look at Him and I am blessed.” Repentance is taking your focus off the problem and back onto God and His solution.
The process of individual salvation can take a very long time – years of alcoholism, drug addiction, wandering from job to job, fighting, jail, failed marriages – all because the focus of the person’s mind was on the natural world, or the self, and not the spiritual solution.
At that point, it is the heart which accepts the truth, believing that righteousness will come from God. What follows is a public confession which leads to salvation as the verse above shows. No one is saved by joining a church, anymore than you can be saved by joining the Kiwanis Club. Your new connection to God comes in the spiritual, unseen world.
God’s tool for reformation is the Bible; many people will tell you they were saved by reading it, even a small portion. And that is why so many dictatorial governments reject the Bible because it does result in changed lives. The Bible was ejected out of American schools and today shootings, violence, rape, broken families and all kinds of social ills are visible in schools that we had almost none of 60 years ago.
Reformed, repentant people can then reform their culture, society, politics, and the media. We can hope.
Check this out. Real Repentance
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