Why is repentance not only important but essential for salvation? Why does the Father require all His children to repent before forgiveness is granted? Consider how trying to get a morbidly obese person to stop overeating is next to impossible if they don’t admit that they are morbidly obese, and feel uncomfortable enough to actually want to change. Or, trying to get a smoker to quit smoking is next to impossible unless they want to quit smoking, which often only happens after a grim diagnosis or when they start to cough up blood. Trying to get a mentally ill person to seek help and accept counseling is next to impossible unless they accept they have a problem, and feel uncomfortable enough to seek and accept help.
The bible stresses repeatedly that ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”[Romans 3:23]; this is not to condemn nor make us depressed, but rather to “open our eyes to see” the truth of the matter concerning our status and condition, so we can make the necessary changes needed in order to resolve the condition. It is the message at the heart of the law (of Moses), and answers the question of why God gave Israel a set of laws that He knew they could not possibly keep, where any transgression (formally) condemned them to death. Formally, because even if they could keep the law without spot, they would still have to die; because the sentence of death was upon Adam and all his descendants[Romans 3:19]. Among other things the law (of Moses) was intended to make the Jews aware of the truth of their condition, it acquitted by making them guilty, and pointed them in the direction of growth and Jesus the Anointed, where they would obtain help and salvation.
We will easily say ‘all men are sinners’, but are often very reluctant to say ‘I am a sinner’. But it is the recognition that we are sinners and the desire to change that scripture describes as repentance [II Timothy 2:25].
We come to God as we are, but we cannot stay as we are, as change is implicitly woven into repentance, and we are expected to change into what the Father requires for us to be, in order to be accepted into eternal life and the kingdom of God; YAHWEH is not going to accept callously wicked people who disregard His ways and instruction into His eternal kingdom. Repentance is the overarching theme of this ongoing transformation from children of Adam made of dirt, into children of God born of spirit.
In the book of Job, the narrative explores how Job kept insisting that he didn’t do anything wrong and that God was being unfair in bringing evil into his life[Job 34:5]. Job was not ignorant, but understood the first principles, and spoke of the Redeemer and Savior YAH would provide, the judgement of the last day, the bodily resurrection of the dead, and the eternal kingdom of God to be established on earth: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” Job 19:25-27
YAHWEH said that Job was a righteous man but he still needed to repent[Job 1:1] He appeared to have become complacent on a sort of spiritual plateau, but he needed to go further and higher than where he currently felt comfortable, but he was not going to be able to progress unless he understood that he wasn’t actually at the destination yet. Up till then he only knew God by hearing, but it was when Job got to really know YAH for himself that he abhorred himself and his arrogance, and humbled himself to continue making the necessary changes to progress forward and higher. Repentance is importance because it sets the framework under which we desire and are willing to change, so that God can change and mould us into what He wants, where otherwise it would be next to impossible.
It is at the end, and after the trauma of his sufferings that the beauty of the lesson is revealed, when Job confesses: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:5-6
Author: Casmon Gordon
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