What is Repentance, Exactly?

In this week's sermon, Adam discussed how joy is found in repentance. In one Gathering, he explained six characteristics of repentance, but had to cut them in all other Gatherings for time's sake. We've taken time to explain the six characteristics in the blog post below, or you can listen to the sermon in its entirety (with the six characteristics) here.

We don't use the word repentance often in our culture. Not many of us have been caught saying "Oh, I made a wrong turn. I better repent here so that I can turn on Main Street." And often, repentance only gets mentioned by religious people when they're holding up signs or yelling on street corners. So we thought it good to take some time in this post to discuss what repentance actually is.

Repentance is...

  1. Agreeing with God about our sin. After King David impregnates another man's wife, and then has her husband killed (which sort of sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer, but worse), he wrote Psalm 51, where he says "for I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." Did you hear what David calls it? Sin. He doesn't call it a character flaw or an accident. He doesn't blame it on his personality or the way he was born, or on other people. When we sin, we call it sin, because that's what it is.
  2. God-centered. Repentance is more than just "I feel bad." Anyone can regret a bind their sin has gotten them in, or negative consequences about their sin. But repentance sees our sin primarily as against God, not just as a bad choice that brought unwanted consequences.
  3. Deals with the heart, not just the action.  The opposite of sin isn't virtue–it's faith. If sin is just doing something wrong, then all we'd need to do to repent is do something right. But sin at its core is failing to make Jesus our ultimate treasure. So repentance seeks to place Jesus back in his rightful place–not just change external action.
  4. Includes confession. A wildly popular thought goes something like this: "I don't have to answer to anyone except myself and God." The only problem with that is the Bible. Repentance necessarily requires confessing to other believers, because that's where healing is found (James 5:16).  People help us fight sin, and confessing our sin to other people keeps our sin from becoming a norm in our community.
  5. Includes making restitution. When our sin affects other people directly, part of repenting is making it right with them. It's not enough to say "I'm sorry I stole money from you." We also should desire to pay them back. Other people's view of Jesus or Christians could have been negatively affected by our actions, so we make an effort to set that right again.
  6. Leads to enjoying God because of Jesus. Repentance is not the same as penance. Penance says that our sorrow pays God back for our sin. Repentance is acknowledging that Jesus has already paid for our sin. Knowing that God has done that for us in the gospel should lead to a lot of rejoicing. Appropriate sorrow over sin should never remain alone. It should always eventually morph into gratefulness and joy over Jesus' work on the cross.

When Work Became Toil

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

From Genesis chapter two to chapter three, work became toil. The beautiful, refreshing cultivation and keeping of the garden that God invites Adam into in chapter two becomes pain, thorns, thistles and sweat in chapter three. Instead of blessing, serving and giving life through order and pruning, Adam’s work became drudgery. Instead of the receiving the satisfaction of a job well done, the garden began to war against his efforts. All of us have felt these effects of the curse in different ways at our jobs. We’ve felt surface level frustration and drudgery; but toil goes much deeper into our hearts’ approach to work:

  • Toil means work will regularly feel meaningless, purposeless, rote and repetitive. (No matter how rewarding it is.)
  • Toil means work will be a place where people will try to find their identity instead of finding it in Jesus. In our culture we frequently define ourselves by what we do in an unhealthy and sinful way called performancism.
  • Toil means work will be a place where people try to find security instead of finding their security in Jesus. Job security is more than good standing with your boss.
  • Toil means work will be a place where people try to find approval instead of finding their approval in Jesus. Bosses and co-workers can become a primary source of adult peer pressure.
  • Toil means work is a place where people will try to find power, a sense of victory, status and success instead of finding power and victory in Jesus’ conquering of sin and death on the cross.
    • This means work I will be frequently disrespected and not valued appropriately as others try to “win” at work.
    • This also means I will be frequently tempted to disrespect and not value others as I try to “win” at work.
    • This means people (including myself) will be tempted to make cheap products and take shortcuts to “win” at the bottom line.
    • This means people (including myself) will be tempted to run their business in unethical ways to “win” at the bottom line.
  • Toil means no matter how hard I work, I will never make enough, accomplish enough or have enough to find true contentment and satisfaction in my job.
  • Toil means work is hard. The more I focus on complaining about how hard my work is, the more I am reveling in the curse and ignoring Jesus’ redemption of all things through His blood.

Jesus is the answer to sin and all of its effects on our work. Jesus restores our relationships with God so that we can find true love, status, purpose and security in Him. Jesus invites us into His mission and opens our hearts to offer loving service to our bosses and co-workers instead of competing with them for power and approval. Jesus restores us to the garden design for work. As we continue to see Jesus’ work done for us in the cross, we get freed up to see our work as a gracious provision from God for His glory and for our joy.

This post was contributed by Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda, or find out more about Midtown's leadership on our leadership page.

Sex, Sin, & the Cross | A Poem Video

For Sunday's sermon on sexual sin and abuse, we featured a poem about sexual sin, its effects, and how the gospel relates to those dealing with sexual sin and/or abuse. We've posted the live video of the poem here, in addition to a downloadable copy of the lyrics and an mp3. Please feel free to share them with anyone who might find it beneficial or encouraging to hear.

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