July 14 I Sunday
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” —Matthew 4:17
We may have heard this said before: “we are not sinners because we commit sins; we commit sins because we are sinners by nature.” For example, if we have a plum tree in our garden, the plum tree is not a plum tree because plums grow on it, but plums grow on it because it is a plum tree. If we have a plum tree we do not say in the spring, “I wonder if we are going to have bananas this year, or tomatoes.” We come expecting plums for the simple reason that we planted a plum seed, which has grown into a plum tree, and that plum tree has a plum nature. In the same way, we were born in a state of separation from God where by nature we are sinners, and therefore inevitably, we sin. What we do is not our real problem—it is what we are.
Paul tells us, “I am a creature of the flesh [worldly, self-reliant—carnal and unspiritual], sold into slavery to sin [and serving under its control]” (Romans 7:14, AMP). In this verse, Paul is describing himself apart from God, what we are like in our natural self. Hence, we need repentance.
Often times, when we think of “repentance,” we think of it in terms of being sorry for what we did. Of course, being apologetic for what we did is important and there is a place for it, however, true repentance is deeper than being sorry for what we do but a sober recognition that the cause of what we do is what we are. In other words, our problem in life is not what we do but what we are—what we do is simply the fruit or symptom of what we are.
The word “repent” literally means “to change one’s mind,” coming from the Greek word metanoenõ, which is a compound word that combines meta meaning “to change,” and noeõ meaning “to perceive with the mind.” Repentance is not just changing our thinking about what we do but our understanding of who we are. When repentance becomes an attitude of our heart, it changes our mind by causing us to turn away from those things that are not of God.
Paul tells us, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). When we repent and come to Christ, we are giving up our natural old self and abandoning it to God completely for His Holy Spirit to work in us to follow Him as a new creation.
Prayer: Lord God, I come to You in repentance of my sinful nature and ask that You renew my mind and allow Your Spirit to work in me to do Your will. Thank You, Lord.