True Repentance

Introduction

    This is something that has been welling up inside me for a while.  All around me, and in myself, I see people running from responsibility.  And increasingly, I see them running to religion only as a cover.  This results in people being offended by "organized religion" because of how full of hypocrites it is.  If this is you, I share your dislike for hypocrites, but are we not all hypocrites?
    It was web pages that say that people are ducking from responsibility by hiding in church that got me thinking.  I would like to show how church was never meant as a cover for immorality, and that God's Word judges everyone, not just the religious.  Remember, this is God speaking through the Bible, not me.  In the totally fair and concise judgment of God, I have nowhere to stand but annihilated.

What's Mankind's Track Record?

    Let's look at the Garden of Eden.  Adam knew not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was in the garden.  That was the only written restriction he had.  God made Eve from Adam's rib, and while th scripture never records Adam showing Eve around the garden, it's highly unlikely that Adam failed to tell Eve about that tree.  Satan tempted Eve, she gave in, and she gave some to Adam.  While the scripture does not record what kind of fruit it was, I am willing to wager that it was different from all other available food in the garden, so it's unlikely that Adam didn't know what he had done.  Anyways, in the end Adam blames Eve (without justification), and Eve blames Satan (without justification).  So they didn't own up to their mistakes: they shifted the blame.  The Bible never records Adam or Eve asking for forgiveness.  However, God doesn't reject mankind: He made clothes for them, and then made them leave the garden.  It's interesting that God thought about it and said "so that they don't eat from the tree of life and live forever this way".  While this isn't directly explained, God was protecting them from a worse fate.  So the first human beings up to bat didn't own up.
    Then we have Cain and Abel, brothers, sons of Adam and Eve.  Abel offered a better offering to God than Cain, so Cain was upset and jealous.  It's interesting to note that God tried to make him see that his anger was unfounded and warned him of his future actions.  But of course, Cain killed Abel.  God confronted Cain by asking where Abel went (of course God knew all along) and Cain tried to claim ignorance ("Am I my brother's keeper?").  So God had to punish Cain.  Second human being up to bat didn't own up.
    We could go on and on, but the direct answer is that the history of human beings is filled with a lack of responsibility for actions.  People tend to only admit enough to keep them safe.  There are people who blame God for their actions.  There are people who blame Satan for their actions.  There are even people who blame Christians for their own lack of action.  "The Devil made me do it" is the same as "I don't go to church because of the hypocrites": both are a shift in blame.

What Is A Hypocrite?

    A hypocrite is someone given to professing beliefs feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess.  It is falseness.  Ironically, the history of the word started around the time of the word "hypocrisis", meaning "play-acting".  Basically, it's an act.
    Think about it: we're all human and imperfect.  The odds are against us in the morality department.  Any time we proclaim something moral that we stand for, like telling the truth, we're a hypocrite because we've already done something wrong in that department.  I think almost all of us have heard the joke about the man who claimed he'd never lie: he lied as soon as he said that.  So any time we want to be moral, we're a hypocrite because we're imperfect.  Who then is the hypocrite?  All of us!
    Do we stop trying to do better?  Do we throw away our morals and give up?  Of course not.  What this means is that we must instead try our best not to be a hypocrite.
    Why would someone call someone else a hypocrite?  Because they just did something wrong.  The person had been quoted saying that they think something is wrong, and they just did the same thing they spoke out against.  Or because the person thinks that the one who spoke out has done the same wrong thing in their past.  It's interesting to note, however, that most those who call someone a hypocrite have also been a hypocrite in their past as well, so once again it's one imperfect human being telling another imperfect human being that they aren't perfect.  Sounds redundant to me.
    So as Christians we need to examine our actions.  Are we only playing church?  Are we only acting saved?  Or do we truly believe it and act on it?  Did we truly become a Christian, or did we act?  Is doing good something that's our nature (and it should be), or is it an act?  Is a sinless life just a mask we put on before we go to church, or is it what we are on the inside because of what God has done in our lives?  These are questions that one should think about and answer in their mind and heart: the Bible says "examine yourselves".

Then Why Bother With Forgiveness?

    Well if we cannot possibly be pure and sinless, why bother asking for forgiveness?  Because we want (or should want) to be in fellowship with God.  To do this we need to be forgiven.  God cannot have fellowship with sin.  We're exhorted to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only." (James 1:22)
    However, those who think that the Christian can just say a prayer and be forgiven yet live any way they want are mistaken, whether it's those who do this or those who accuse Christianity of this practice.  The Bible clearly says in Romans 6:1-2 that we are to not to continue to live in sin.  The language is actually pretty strong for the Bible: "Certainly not!".  Those who are saved are to consider themselves dead to sin: i.e. we cannot sin because we don't exist on sin's radar any more.  We're to consider ourselves free from sin, and therefore we don't have to sin any more.
    Dead to sin does not mean that we're to believe that we are not capable of sinning: such is totally the opposite of what the Bible says.  It says in Romans 6:13 "And DO NOT present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God".  We're to think of our minds, eyes, hands ears as tools of righteousness.  They are now intended for doing good and doing right, not for doing wrong.
    Also, the Bible plainly says in Romans 6:15 "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  Certainly not!"  I like how the "old" KJV translated the exclamation at the end: "God forbid!"  The language is very strong: we are not to sin just because we're not held to the old Jewish law.  We can't just go do what we want: our bodies are now intended to do right and to not sin.
    Romans 6:19 also recounts how we used to be (before salvation) slaves of sin, but now it's the opposite: now we are slaves of righteousness: we have to do right; we cannot do wrong.  The Bible never starts to make sin in to something we "cannot" do as if we don't have any choice in the matter.  It never calls our actions righteous, instead it says we must do right.  The Bible never destroys our choice or will: we are urged to do right, we are urged to flee from sin.  We're still human with a will and a choice: now we're to choose righteousness.  It's an action, not a condition.
    Romans 8:5 tells that those who want to live (spiritually) are to set their minds on the spirit.  It's an act of the will.
    I say this because there are those who somehow twist the scripture to make it sound as if all our actions are automatically right because we're saved.  Nothing can be farther from the truth.  The Christian can commit sin, but they are to be actively resisting such actions, with the help of God.  We cannot claim that God didn't help us enough if we can't stay away from sin: we still have our own will and our own mind.
    I remember a scenario at work where I had two superiors telling me to do opposite things.  I had a choice.  I had to pick which one I was going to obey.  I remember the one whom I chose not to obey being very upset, to put it mildly.  But in the end, I chose by my actions whose subordinate I was through my obedience.  A Christian is in the same situation: God and Satan both want us to do things, and their wills and desires are opposite of each other.  You still have the right to choose, however, which of Them you will obey.  The Bible parallels this in Romans 6:16: you are the slave of whoever you obey.  I'd rather be God's "slave" than the slave of sin.

So Then What?

    If you're a Christian and you've been doing wrong, it's time to make right!  Trust and obey God and depend on His strength.  And own up for your actions!  Only you can do right or do wrong: either way, it is still a choice that you and only you can make.  Satan cannot force us to sin ().  Read Ephesians 4:25: the BIble commands us to stop lying, stop being angry, stop stealing, stop cussing.  It commands us to stop being bitter, angry, and malicious.  It commands us to be kind to each other, tender hearted, and forgiving.  If anything, let our lives point to what the Bible says.  Romans 12:9 "Let love be without hypocrisy."
    And to those who hate hypocritical Christians, realize that the Bible has something higher than the hypocritical Christian is modelling for you.  We're all imperfect: but realize that it wasn't the Bible and wasn't true religion that said that a Christian can do what they want and just be forgiven without a second thought.  While 1 John 1:9 says that admitting our wrongs (confession) and turning away from them (repentance) are the formula for forgiveness, the rest of the Bible commands us to do right.  Don't blame religion: blame the hypocrite.

About An Abusive Spouse

    There was someone who wrote a web page I visited recently that said that the way to deal with a hypocritical husband is to confront them with the police present.  The Bible doesn't really tell us how to directly deal with this, but it does tell us that we're not to assault each other, married or not.  Assault, such as an abusive spouse, is wrong, and the Bible says so.  If someone is trying to use the "well I'm forgiven now!" as their shield to keep abusing their spouse, they're not forgiven at all: the Bible says confess and REPENT, not confess and do it again.  However, I will say, whether the Bible says it or not, that the abusive spouse does not truly love their spouse.  I do not advocate divorce as a solution, and neither does the Bible, but I believe that the abuse should stop and the abusive spouse should be punished.  Now there are those spouses that have been rehabilitated and never abused their partner again: I am happy that they changed.  But it is wrong and detrimental to be with an abusive spouse: leave them.
    The Bible never says that we're superstars, but it never says that we have no value: in fact, we have infinite value to God.  God gave His only Son in death to rescue us out of the danger we caused ourselves.  We were sinful and didn't care, didn't repent, and it was while we were sinful and arrogant that God gave His Son to die, not while we were good.  God loves us beyond what we can understand.  I say this to explain that while we aren't kings and queens in the world's eyes, we're not to think of ourselves as without value, as those who suffer from depression sometimes do.  Never stay in an abusive relationship and never let someone tell you that you are worthless.

How We Are To Treat Our Spouse

    I'm honestly very offended by spousal abuse.  I'd like to also go over briefly what the Bible wants of husbands.
    1 Corinthians 7:3 "Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her."  We are to love them and to be affectionate with them.  If they aren't in the "loving" mood, we're to respect that and be understanding.
    Colossians 3:19 "Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them."  We are to truly love our wives (see 1 Corinthians 13), and we are not to be bitter at them.  I feel that this means that we are to forgive our wives and not let our minds rehash or dwell on what they have done in the past.  Besides, we serve a God who forgives us.
    1 Corinthians 13:4-7 "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  The Bible has called us to a love that is made complete and perfect in God.
    Ironically, there is a lot said about what the servant of God should be, and it's not directed at just marriage: we are to treat each other like God would have us, regardless of if it's a spouse or a stranger.  Let me show some of these:
    Hebrews 13:5 "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have."
    James 1:19-20 "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God."  Anger and wrath cannot be used to make people into Christians.  Threats and intimidation won't work.  This is a strong warning.
    1 Peter 3:7 "Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered."  We are to be understanding and to give our honor to our wives.  Besides, any man who doesn't do this, according to the verse, his prayers aren't working (hindered), which would mean that if they claim to be forgiven, they may want to double check their status.

Finally, What About Those Verses In First John?

    There are some verses used in First John 1 and 2 that people seem to quote on their own.  This seems to cause a lot of misunderstanding and problems on both sides.  Let me go over them:
    Chapter 1:
  • Verse 6: You cannot say you know God if you walk in darkness: if you do, you're lying.  Basically, the proof that you know God is your life.
  • Verse 7: If we as a church are walking in God, we have fellowship with each other, and Jesus' blood cleanses our sins.  This is what we should want: fellowship with God and with each other, and forgiveness of sins.
  • Verse 8: Anyone who says they have no sin is deceiving themselves (hypocrisy).  We're not perfect.  However, like verse 7, we should be walking in the light.
  • Verse 9: If we confess our sins, God forgives us and cleanses us.  However, just because you don't see "repent" in the verse doesn't mean we don't have to change: look at verse 7.  Our goal is to walk in the light.
  • Verse 10: If we say that we have not sinned, we are saying that God is lying.  This would be a sign that God's word isn't in us.
    Chapter 2:
  • Verse 1: These verses are so that we may not sin.  We're to use them to stay out of sin.  It doesn't say that He wrote them so that we'll never sin again.  It's not possible, see verse 8.
  • Verse 2: God Himself is the transaction that closes the deal: He died for us - for the sins of the entire world.
  • Verse 3: We know that we know God if we obey Him.  Point blank.  Even the lost know this, which is why they despise hypocrites (other than the fact that almost everyone hates a hypocrite).
  • Verse 4: If someone says they know God but don't obey God, they're lying.
  • Verse 5: We know we are in God if we obey His words.  If we obey His words, His love develops to perfection in us.
  • Verse 6: If you want to say you are in God you ought to live a life just like Jesus did.
  • Verse 9: If you say you know God (i.e. "are in the light") and yet you hate your brother (spiritually, genetically, etc, it doesn't say), you're in the darkness and not the light.
  • Verse 10: Someone who loves his brother knows God and isn't going to stumble.
  • Verse 11: But if you hate your brother, you don't know God (i.e. walk in darkness) and don't know where you're going because you can't see in the darkness.

    This should help people understand more fully.

Conclusion

    I just want people to understand.  I had read that page about the Christian husband who thinks that they can just ask for forgiveness and that it's OK to continue living the way they are: abusing their spouse.  It hurts me to think that someone would continue to live like this, hurting the one they supposedly love.  It also hurts when people cause hurt to the family of God by their lives.  We ought to live better than this.  If we are hypocrites, we will make the lost hate us even more.  Why do they want a relationship with God if by our actions it seems that this causes us to be hypocrites?  Where's the change that both the lost and saved know should exist in our lives?
    And I hope that this helps people.  We have a will and a choice, and we can obey God and embrace Him.  Someone who truly knows God will be obedient to God, and all of us know this.  Why else do the lost expect us to be acting like Jesus?  Because we all know it deep down in our hearts, whether saved or lost.
    I just hope that this helps someone.


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