Christian Life & Discipleship

Freedom through Repentance

What does it look like to be truly set free when you’ve been tangled up in something for so long? 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

For so many of us in our Discipleship Training School (DTS) this was a question we struggled to answer before our repentance and forgiveness week. That particular teaching came on week three of our DTS and for so many of us we were excited, anxious, nervous, and even scared of what was coming. Through conversations with other DTS students who had already gone through this week with their DTS, they all agreed it was one of the most powerful weeks they had up to that point. This brought so much anticipation for what was to come. As expected, that week surpassed all expectations, emotions, and ideas of what it was going to be like.

The week started off with defining sin. Sin is anything that separates us from God or anything that is breaking who we were created to be. Man was created in God’s image which means living lives that reflect characteristics of God: full of love, faithfulness, goodness, and lives without sin. “Ok, so as long as I say sorry for doing something wrong, God will see my effort, I’ll be forgiven, and it’ll be all good.” That was my thinking, and our speaker said something that suddenly convicted that thinking; “we sin because we want to.”

We sin because we want to.

I had never thought about sin in that way before.  When I sin, I’m not trusting in God to give me the desires of my heart and I don’t want God’s limitations on me. For the longest time I thought that God wasn’t fun and by following and obeying Him I’d be missing out. Reality is, God says He offers immensely greater fulfilment than I was trying to convince myself I found in sin. When I faced this reality I wanted that, but how?

Repentance: The action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.

This is what God calls us to do to find true freedom. It is more than saying sorry; it’s actually turning 180 degrees away from your old ways and fully committing to Jesus. We have a choice to make in every situation we are in. We can either give into the deadly temptations of the devil or take the exit route provided which brings life.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

All of us wanted that. We saw how unappealing and deadly sin was and questioned why we’d done some of the things we had in our past. The last day of teaching was the day we had all been waiting for; application day. We wrote out things we wanted to repent of – anything and everything that God put on our hearts that we needed to be set free from. We each had an opportunity to sit in front of the class, with our small group leader on one side and speaker for the week on the other, as we prayed out our prayers of repentance to God, asking for forgiveness. The others in our group spent that time listening, praying, and writing letters of encouragement to the person repenting. After the individual was finished, the two leaders sitting next to them prayed for them then they stuck their letter into a nail at the bottom of a cross in the room. After that, the rest of the group gathered around them, laid hands on them, and all prayed out loud for that person. It was probably the most powerful movement of the Holy Spirit that I’ve ever experienced. There was the fear of embarrassment and lies Satan put in my heart at the beginning saying, “you shouldn’t say that out loud”, but that was the beauty of it – confessing to God before witnesses. Something about that made it reality and brought true freedom.

God revealed Himself and His true character to me so strongly that day. He’s a God who hates sin so much it makes him sick every time we sin, breaking His heart that we chose something so empty to “fill” us over Him who brings true fulfilment. I used to think that I was going to be punished for my sin or I couldn’t ever be redeemed from the choices I made in the past, but really God was there through it all just waiting for me to run back to Him. He offered ways out of those situations that I deliberately ignored and I continued to choose the path of sin over Him.

Looking back, I see in each situation His soft, gentle whisper was speaking to me but I chose to tune it out.

This lead me to bondage toward these sins in my life that created the continuous cycle I found myself in. I can say that this particular week changed my life. It brought my sin into light, and shined a light on my future because I will do everything to not choose sin. It also brought true freedom and redemption into my life that I had never sensed before. I no longer have to struggle to break free from the tangled mess my heart once was in because God has lifted that off me – He carries my burdens, mess, sin, shame, guilt, pain… everything.