Freedom: Repentance and Forgiveness
I never fully understood that I could live in freedom until Repentance and Forgiveness week, which was week three of my Discipleship Training School (DTS). During this week, I learnt what sin and repentance actually mean, after 18 years of being a Christian. Our speaker used the analogy of a wife sitting on a couch. Her husband had just been out working in the sun and dirt all day and started to smell really bad. Of course the wife wanted her husband to come and join her on the couch, but first, he had to shower! God is like the wife and we are the husband. He wants us to come close to Him and build an intimate relationship as we sit together on the couch, but first we need a spiritual shower! We need to apologise for and stop committing our sin! It stinks!
This is holiness: being in agreement with God. Thinking what God thinks; about sin, about Himself, about others and about ourselves!
I know now that the difference between saying sorry and repenting is that when you repent, you’re not just apologising for sin, but you’re determining not to do it any longer! It’s declaring that each day, you’ll make the decision that you do not want that behaviour to be a part of your life anymore! Our sin genuinely hurts God’s heart; it separates Him from the people He loves (us!). I learnt that everything that God said not to do (sin), He said for our best interest! When we sin, it upsets God because we disobey Him, but also because we are ultimately doing more damage to ourselves and walking away from God’s intentions to live in unity with us. We need to remind ourselves that God’s commandments are not outdated or irrelevant; they are the very things that protect and bless us!
To apply what we learned, on the last day of the week we took turns within our DTS to confess our sins. We told God we’re sorry and that we want to uproot sin from our lives so we can live in intimacy with Him! It was hard at first for us to confess what we had never told anyone before, but it caused us to be humble and grow closer to each other. Often, we believe that if people knew what we have done in our past, they wouldn’t love us or look at us the same. But that was not the case! Confessing and repenting in front of my DTS and seeing their love and forgiveness for me despite it all made me realise that if they love and forgive me, how much more does God love and forgive me? We then ripped up our list of sins and nailed it to the cross! What a feeling! Knowing that God is so much greater than our sins, is ready and willing to forgive us and invites us to sit with Him on the couch after that spiritual shower! Doing that together as a class freed us from shame; what was hidden was brought to light. We were no longer lying and concealing, but being honest with God and with other people that we trust!
We also forgave everyone who had hurt us in the past. If God can forgive us, we can forgive them! This is holiness: being in agreement with God. Thinking what God thinks; about sin, about Himself, about others and about ourselves! I learnt to repent not because it seemed like the right thing to do, but because I wanted to. I was genuinely sorry for hurting God. I was ready to shower and sit on the couch with him.
I repented and continue to repent because I don’t want to hurt God any more. One thing that stuck out from lectures to help me with this topic is that repentance is not an event, but a process. Although we have apologised for sin, it does not mean we are never going to get tempted to sin again! But every time the temptation comes, we get to choose – we get to choose to react how God wants us to, and choose Him over sin. Repentance means to ‘alter a decision or a lifestyle to preserve or bring life.’ When we repent, we alter our decision to sin and preserve our life of intimacy with God, the best life we could ever have: a life of complete and total freedom.