The images which come to mind about repenting can be quite bizarre. Images of self-flagellation, torrents of remorseful tears, making oaths, vows, offerings and sacrifices, and a wringing of hands and a gnashing of teeth. These are the requirements for repentance imposed since the dawn of religion. Even our dictionaries now proclaim this type of definition due to common usage. However, a look at the original meaning of the words used in scripture tell a different story.
In the New Testament the word translated as repent, as in “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand”, is the word metanoeo which means ‘to have a different mind’. So, translating the same verse we get, ‘you need to have a different mindset, for God’s kingdom is here’. But why should we get a different mind, and how do we get it?
In the beginning, God …. and in verse 26 made man in His image, a little version of Himself. In Chapter 3 we see Adam eat of the fruit of the tree of the ‘knowledge of good and evil’, and immediately perceived that things were different. He perceived his nakedness and perceived that God would be wrathful against him and Eve, so hid. But the truth was that God still loved them and only wanted the best for them. It is this shameful, scared, self-loathing false image of mankind that Jesus came to rescue us from, and that it is that perverted mindset from which we need to have changed into the truth of being the beloved children of our heavenly father, that we are not separated from Him but He has always been with us.
Jesus came to show humanity our true identity as still being part of the divine. Our acceptance of this sets us free to enjoy the benefits of that reality (1 Timothy 4:10). Jesus saved us from the ‘hell’ of the spiritual blindness in which humanity had entrapped itself. No longer do we have to seek forgiveness or make some form of atonement to appease a wrathful God. The change of our mindset with the acceptance of the finished work of the cross frees us to love; God, others and ourselves.
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