We often think of the word “repentance” in very negative terms.
We think of a street preacher on a corner, or sweaty Baptist or Pentecostal preaching pounding on a pulpit thundering, “Turn or burn!” style preaching
And as a result, a lot of people think of repentance as a sort of four letter word.
“Well, that doesn’t sound too pleasant,” we say to our selves. Repentance sounds like God is sucking all the fun out of things and wants to keep us from the good stuff of life.
That’s what the Devil said to Eve in the garden after all. “God doesn’t want you to eat that fruit over there because He’s holding out on you…“
So, people think when God says things like, “Don’t have sex before marriage” or “Don’t get drunk,” well… that’s just crazy talk.
Who’d want to avoid all that fun stuff? Why be denied of the opportunity to engage in fun and pleasurable activities?
It is my perspective such is s wrong view of repentance.
What Is Repentance?
Repentance in its’ essence is simply the turning away from doing things your way and instead doing things God’s way. And when we have the right mindset, repentance is not a negative thing, it is actually an amazing and beautiful thing.
God’s not trying to rob you of anything amazing. Instead God is trying to open your eyes to the beautiful way that He would have you to walk in. A way full of love and goodness. There can be nothing more beautiful in this world than learning to walk in God’s will for us. And in God’s ways we should ultimately delight.
Some Scriptures To Consider When Thinking About Repentance
These may not look like passages you’d typically associate with repentance. But I believe if you were to meditate on them, you’d ultimately see that they show men who fell in love with God, and seeing His splendor and beauty, felt they were left with no other choice but to walk in God’s way for us. Beauty ultimately is what saved them, and not someone beating them to death with a “turn or burn” call to repentance.
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,Psalm 1:1-6 (NASB)
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls,46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.Matthew 13:44-46 (NASB)
1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2 Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called out to another and said,
“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The whole earth is full of His glory.”
4 And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. 5 Then I said,
“Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I live among a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”Isaiah 6:1-7 (NASB)
If we believe in the cross of Jesus Christ, and His death, burial, and resurrection, that ought to be enough to change our lives once and forever. I can think of nothing more beautiful than His cross and it’s ability to transform lives.
Yes, of course, there is still a place for a “turn or burn” hell fire preaching on repentance. It is biblical, and was something that was preached in both Old and New Testaments, by Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets.
But such a message isn’t the heartbeat of God. We see in the Bible such is only given when all other preaching has been exhausted, and there remains nothing left but warnings of imminent judgment and woe. Such preaching is God’s last ditch effort to awaken those who are hearing the gospel.
But throughout the Bible, God calls men to repent, and the primary draw is the call to see and taste that the Lord is good, and that His way is delightful and beautiful.