Nothing makes a person feel all warm and fuzzy like hearing, “You need to repent.” Or other times, “This is a sin issue.” Mmmmm, like a Snuggie for the soul.
Somewhere along the way, we’ve made repentance into a nasty word. But it’s really the opposite. Repentance is awesome. Repentance should be one of the most freeing parts of the Christian life.
The problem is most people don’t know how to repent.
From what I can tell, Christians do the first part pretty well. The turn-from-sin part. The Greek word itself means an “about face.” It’s a picture of a soldier turning quickly in the opposite direction; a dual-motion of rotating away from sin and towards Christ.
Confession comes easily. They admit what they just [did-thought-said] was out of step with the Gospel. It’s the second part that trips them up. The turn-to-Christ part. They feel, unless their righteousness is proven, they are to remain at arm’s length from God’s presence.
So, how can we turn towards Christ after a moment of sin?
We are told of two ways. Both are found in this passage:
For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Rest in the completed work of Christ for you.
“For by a single offering He has perfected for all time…” Because of Christ on the cross, you are perfect. Full stop. You are perfect. For all time. Past, present, future. Don’t diminish His grace by trying to prove yourself. Rest, instead, on the finished work of Jesus. You can enter into God’s presence.
Embrace the continuing work of Christ in you.
“…those who are being sanctified.” We are both perfected (past tense) and being perfected (present tense). He who began a good work will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6). In other words, there’s still work to do.
We should love repentance. It reminds us of our freedom in Christ and the continuing work He’s doing in our hearts. But we must remember to do more than just turn from sin.
Without turning towards our sin-conquering King, we end up wallowing in guilt and fear. Doomed, so it seems, to repeat the offense again and again. However, this is only possible when we forget the power of the Holy Spirit.
“The Christian life means moving from a battle that we could not win to a battle that we cannot lose. But there’s still a battle.” –Tim Keller
So, from the moment you fall, repent. Jesus has set you free from sin. And He is setting you free from sin. Fight the good fight.