“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord Jehovah. therefore, repent and live.” Ezekiel 18:31-32
Being repentant is not merely the better option to choose out of a collective of alright choices. Really, it is the only viable choice if we would rather live than die. And it is made clear here that God truly does want us to repent, because His pleasure is never in our death!
This repentance is the choice of throwing out the garbage we have made in our lives; tearing down the old structure of things, and completely rebuilding according to God’s instructions and plans. When we look at our lives as Christians, are they built upon the truth of God’s word, or is the way we talk, think and act more characterized by the world?
If the Holy Spirit is convicting us of areas of improper building, renovation is not just a good idea, it’s an imperative!
“Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd, but reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge.” Proverbs 19:25
If we are people characterized by naivety in regards to knowing God and His word, when disciplined we are likely to simply figure out ways to avoid consequences. Yet, if we are people characterized by an understanding of God and what He says, when reproved we gain knowledge, because the reproof contrasted with what we already understand reveals the horrid nature of our rebellion towards God’s ways, and so if there is a change in our ways it is because first there was a change in heart.
When stopping our bad behaviour out of simple-minded self-preservation, we change what we do because what we do hurts us. However, when in understanding we throw out our bad way of thinking – that brings about our bad behaviour – we stop our bad behaviour because we recognize that what we do hurts God. Repentance is not merely a change of the outward action, but first a change of the inward attention; from what hurts me to what hurts God. The correction in our lives is not simply to bring us to correctly adhere to rules, but to correct our often wayward mind.
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself 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 that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:6-9
The nature of light is that it brings exposure to whatever it shines on, whether it is beautiful or grotesque. So if we are to walk in the Light, we must be prepared for our lives to be exposed in such a manner, and that takes a repentant heart! If we are not ready to agree with God about our sin as He bears to light what we would rather hide, we are hardening ourselves to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and so are walking in darkness. If we walk in darkness we are hiding ourselves for who we really are from God and from others. If we are hiding who we really are, we are keeping ourselves from true sincere fellowship (with God and with others). Therefore, if we want to live in true Christian fellowship, we must live in an attitude of repentance.