Monday, October 01, 2007


Repentance is not simply our only means of forgiveness, it is our only means to being cleansed of all unrighteousness. Though we often avoid repentance by covering it up, casting blame, claiming pure motives, convincing ourselves we were in the right, comparing our sin to others, or changing the very definition of sin, such a practice not only fails to clear the sin from our record, it hardens our heart just a little bit each time. In other words, each time we fail to repent of a sin, we become less capable of repentance b/c our hearts get colder and harder. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us. Only soft/warm hearts can be changed for the better.

Nobody likes to confess sin. But if you're going to need to eat crow, you better do it while it's warm or you might not be able to do it at all.


Aaron Perry said...

Can you say more about repentance as our means of forgiveness?

matthew said...

If sin damages and can even break our relationship with God, repentance for that sin seems to be the means toward re-establishing right relations. Of course, the repentance is the Holy-Spirit led human role in re-connection (God's grace extending to meet the sinner being God's role). If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to 'forgive' us our sins.

All humanity deals with its sin. To me, what makes a Christian distinct, is that we deal with sin via repentance to God. Repentance is a mark that we are truly members of the people of God.

Let me know if I'm on a different wavelength than what you were wanting me to discuss :)

matthew said...

oh, but we don't have internet at the church so i won't be back online till this evening. Good day sir.

Aaron Perry said...

I would simply argue that some forgiveness precedes repentance. In fact, if the cross is both a symbol and act of forgiveness, then it precedes much repentance. I would also wonder about those who have been hurt by people deceased who cannot repent. I believe they are able to forgive as significantly as those whose forgiveness is given at the repentance and request of their offender.

So, this is somewhat of a different wavelength. What do you think?

matthew said...

Yeah, the issue on my mind at the time of posting was really how repentance (verses other ways we try to deal with sin) affects the condition of our hearts.

As for your point, I think the term 'forgiveness' can be used in at least 2 ways. For one, I can forgive someone on an individual level. even if the other person is non-repentant. I can still extend forgiveness to them. This takes the root of bitterness out of my heart, but, since they won't (or can't) accept my offer, this form of forgiveness doesn't go as far as reconciliation.

The second type of forgiveness is a 2 way street. It reaches the goal of forgiveness: reconciliation. At least 2 Person's are involved in an offense, so at least 2 person's need to be involved in this fuller meaning of forgiveness. In my view Christ's offer of forgiveness (type number 1) is not affective to an individual until His repentance. Only then can reconciliation occur.

I'm not saying that the cross was only a symbol of forgiveness. The offer is real. But it only results in reconciliation when received. So repentance is our only means to forgiveness when we're talking about the 2nd, fuller, type of forgiveness.

Aaron Perry said...

I agree with your breakdown, except that I would only label the second type of forgiveness as reconciliation. There are some who defend the necessity of repentance for forgiveness (e.g., Jerry Walls, Richard Swinburne), but like you I think it can happen without repentance. And like you, I think reconciliation can only happen by repentance. I think the only difference is that I would say your second type of forgiveness *is* reconciliation.

Btw, what do you think of Wright's return from exile in Jesus as forgiveness of sins?

matthew said...

Interesting that you mention Wright since I just, today, finished my slow reading through Jesus & the Victory of God. It's been great to read him since so much of what he says feels at home already in my thinking. It feels confirming.

I think recognizing the power of the symbols Jesus utilized does give us a better understanding that Jesus' ministry was the truer return from exile and being part of the community He invited us to is, by definition, taking part in the forgiveness of sins.