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  • Writer's pictureRob

Thirty-Third (Repentance)

How have you been? Well, I hope! We have seen Yehovah working this week, and we praise Him for it! I know some of you have seen it in your lives this week, too. Something that was reinforced for us is to call on Him whenever we need Him and He will be there to answer. Isn't that amazing? Such an all-powerful, all-knowing being is all-loving as our Father and us His children. Despite how small and insignificant we sometimes might think ourselves to be, He takes such an interest in us that He will be there when we call.

Well this week we're talking about a very important topic. One that a lot of people don't fully understand and therefore can't actually perform. I was one of those people for a long time. I was taught what repentance was, but not so deeply that I fully understood it. I knew it as just, "asking for forgiveness and not doing that bad thing you did again." But that's not the complete picture.

First, let's take a look at the word repentance. The Greek word for repent is metanoeo. It comes from the roots meta, meaning "change afterward," and noeo, meaning "understanding," or "thinking." So literally, in Greek, it means to change after understanding or thinking.

What's more interesting is the Hebrew word for repentance: teshuvah. Now, if you look in the Old Testament you won't find the word repent or repentance translated from that word. You'll find nacham, which more accurately means consoling yourself. This makes a whole lot more sense when you read verses like Genesis 6:6, where Yehovah "repented" from making Adam. The root word for teshuvah, shuv, you'll find in verses like Hosea 14:1, where Israel is told to "return" to Yehovah. So teshuvah, or repentance, means to turn back to God.

Turning back to God is very self-explanatory, and a perfect description for repentance. The sins we commit that require repentance are on a path that walks away from Him, so we need to turn back to Him as a result. However, we can't turn back, or change, until we have thought about, or understood, what we have done wrong. So really, the combination of the Greek and Hebrew produces the full picture of repentance.

But this just ultimately falls back into the category of "not doing that bad thing again," doesn't it? How is this different from what I learned when I grew up? The key is how deep this thought, and the subsequent change, goes in our being. Remember, there are three parts to us: flesh (body), mind (soul) and spirit. We can turn back to God in our mind or spirit, but if we let our flesh (or lusts) take over (whether for a moment or always) it means nothing because we will continue to sin. Similarly, if we turn back to God in our spirit and control our flesh, but we allow our mind and its sinful thoughts to take over, we will have the same result. Jesus set the bar higher than the Law of Moses, saying if we even look at someone lustfully we have committed adultery (Matthew 5:28).

This makes true repentance a little bit harder, right? Well, it gets even harder! Remember those buggers I talked about over the course of four newsletters? Demons. Not only are we fighting the rebellious nature we inherited from Adam and Eve, we're also fighting demons in order to be truly repentant. These beings invade our flesh and our minds, and the worldly things we see and hear are designed to convince us we need to accept them. The study of God's Word, and actively denying demonic attempts to influence us, helps us to repent and not fall back into sin.

It takes not only the decision of repentance, but a foundation in His Word to have true repentance in your heart. You'll find many religions, even some denominations of Christianity, require some outward display to show repentance. Saying certain prayers, inflicting physical pain on yourself as they did a long time ago, or even crying a lot and being remorseful does not mean you have truly repented. In fact, none of these things are even required. Yehovah does not look at your outward appearance. He looks at your heart (1 Samuel 16:7). So if you have true repentance in your heart, know that He sees that. And that's all that matters!

So why does this even matter? I'm sure some of you have sat in a pew hearing pastors talk about repentance in many sermons. What's the big deal? I got the repentance, now let's move on, right?

Do you know what Jesus' first word was as He started his ministry after being in the wilderness? That's right! Repent! (Matthew 4:17) That's the first step before anything. Before believing the gospel (Mark 1:15), before baptism (Acts 2:38), before conversion (Acts 3:19), before forgiveness (Luke 17:3, Acts 8:22), before we can do works pleasing to Yehovah (Acts 26:20). Any act of wickedness or sin is on a path away from Him. As a result, regardless of what good works we do they are dead. Unless we repent (of all sinful acts, especially those from before our walk with Him), and turn back to Him, none of those works matter because our hearts are not on His path.

Another important piece to understand is without true repentance you cannot have everlasting life. We've already seen it's the first step, but Jesus went even further to say if we don't repent we will perish (Luke 13:3 and 5). The Greek word used for perish in these verses is apollumi, which implies permanent destruction. Meaning no eternal life. And Yehovah calls for everyone everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

Be encouraged though, because you reading this means you have been chosen by Him! Repentance starts with Him because we can't turn to Him unless He draws us (John 6:44). And if we accept, turn to Him in our heart, and align all parts of us with that turning, He will raise us up at the last day! Amen!

Shabbat Shalom and God bless you!

-Sara Gene and Rob

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