Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Nineveh Lent Special, Repentance
Volume 7 No. 458 January 21, 2018
III. Featured: Repentance

Repentance - Godly Sorrow

by Oswald Chambers

"Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation . . ."
- 2 Corinthians 7:10

Conviction of sin is best described in the words:

My sins, my sins, my Savior,
How sad on Thee they fall.

Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person. It is the beginning of an understanding of God. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit came He would convict people of sin (see John 16:8). And when the Holy Spirit stirs a person's conscience and brings him into the presence of God, it is not that person's relationship with others that bothers him but his relationship with God - "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight . . ." (Psalm 51:4). The wonders of conviction of sin, forgiveness, and holiness are so interwoven that it is only the forgiven person who is truly holy. He proves he is forgiven by being the opposite of what he was previously, by the grace of God. Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, "I have sinned." The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes - a reflex action caused by self-disgust.

The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man's respectable "goodness." Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person's life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses- repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for "the gift of tears." If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

Source: My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers,1935)

Repent! Convert! Two Words that Need to Be Rediscovered

by Msgr. Charles Pope

Too many Christians are uncomfortable using the biblical and traditional words, "Repent," convert and conversion. To repent means to change your mind and come to a new way of living. To convert means to turn from sinful ways or erroneous teaching.

But too many Christians, including priests are uncomfortable using words like this. We used to speak of convert classes etc. But now many prefer abstract descriptions like, "Inquiry Classes" or the even more abstract "RCIA"

Many draw back lest they seem to suggest that others are wrong, "going wrong," need to change, or, heaven forefend, "sinful." Words like repent and convert more than suggest that there is right and wrong, true and false, sanctity and sinfulness, good and evil.

But the fact is, many, including us, need on-going conversion. And a good number need outright conversion And a complete change of mind, heart and behavior.

Of course repentance and the call to conversion are key biblical summons. Repentance is not suggested, it is commanded, and without it we will not see the kingdom of God.

Perhaps a central reason for the embarrassment many feel at the call to repentance and conversion is that it runs a foul of a kind of "consumer Christianity" wherein faith is reduced to using God's grace to access blessings but not to give one's life over to Jesus Christ in love and obedience. Consumer Christianity targets "seekers" looking for enrichment rather than disciples. The heart of discipleship is, as Jesus says, is to "Deny yourself, take up your Cross, and follow me."

But when faith is reduced to personal enrichment, true discipleship seems obnoxious and words like repentance, conversion, and concepts like self denial, and the cross are non-starters and rejected as negative, judgemental, and, to use consumer language, is bad marketing.

To be sure, the faith does enrich and words like repentance and conversion need not be accompanied with sour faces or with no reference to the joy of salvation. We need not act like the wild-eyed sidewalk evangelists screaming repent only as a tactic of cringing fear.

But as to the avoidance of any fear at all and the words repent and convert, nothing could be more unChrist-like, for Jesus led with the summons to repent. It was in the very opening words of his public ministry: He said, "The time is now! The kingdom of God is near! Repent, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

And why does Jesus lead with this? Because the joy and enrichement of salvation cannot be accessed except through repentance and conversion. Eternal Life cannot be accessed except through turning our back on this world and dying to it. Easter Sunday is accessed only through Good Friday.

Consumer Christianity cannot save. Repentance and conversion, even if not popular in marketing focus groups of "seeker-sensitive" mega-churches, must be recovered in the call and vocabulary of the Church. Watering down the very thing Jesus led with is no way to make true disciples.

Repent and be converted that the Gospel may fill you.

Source: Archdiocese of Washington Blog

A Broken Heart And a Contrite Spirit

by Ralph Bouma

Whiter Than Snow

"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow," Psalm 51:7.

David's reference to hyssop teaches valuable lesson, that is, his willingness to submit to being cleansed in God's ordained way. David said in verses 16 and 17: "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

David said that God does not desire sacrifice, but that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Watch the following verses. This is a tremendous lesson in Psalm 51:18-19: "Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar."

The sacrifice of righteousness goes ahead of the burnt offerings. The sacrifice of righteousness is the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. That has to come before our pleading the blood of Christ. We cannot come and plead the blood of Christ as Job was doing. His sons were feasting and making merry, and then he would offer a burnt offering for it. The Lord has no delight in it.

We cannot plead justification under the sacrifice of Jesus Christ until we understand what it is to be cleansed in the heart. We need that hyssop. We need that blood on the two door posts and on the lintel of the door so the destroying angel will pass over because he sees our walk of life. Now we can start pleading the burnt offerings.

Satan loves overreaction. On one hand, he wants us to slight the authority of God's Word as Jesus warned against in Matthew 5:19: "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

On the other side of this principle, Satan would load us with legalistic commandments that God has no pleasure in as we see in Isaiah 1:12: "When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?" Who has asked you to even come within the walls of my house?

Verses 13 to 15 continue, "Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood."

These verses confirm that the Lord has absolutely no pleasure in sacrifices when the heart is not right. When the heart is not right these sacrifices are an abomination to Him. That their hands were full of blood showed that they had not repented of their sins.

Continuing in verses 16 to 18 we read: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

What was missing? In all this ritual, the people came and offered sacrifices and attended solemn assemblies, but this wearied the Lord. Their hands were full of blood. There was no repentance.

David understood what was missing. He realized his hands were full of blood as we see in Psalm 51:16: "For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering." David is saying, I understand the filthiness and pollution of my sin, and I do not need to bring a burnt offering that would not be pleasing in Your sight. I need to come before You with a humble and contrite heart. That is the sacrifice the Lord will be pleased with. He says in Psalm 51:19: "Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar." After the heart is broken and contrite, then there is a place for the sacrifice. Then we can start talking about pardon.

See how abominable it is to only preach the blood of Christ and sacrifices without repentance. Then we come under what the Lord says in Isaiah 1: Away with it. It is an abomination to me. Amen.

A broken spirit is to God
A pleasing sacrifice;
A broken and a contrite heart
Thou, Lord, wilt not despise.

From Psalm 51
Psalms and Hymns for Worship, 1934

Repentance, A Golden Key

by Very Rev. K. Mathai Corepiscopa

Gospel: St. Matt.4:12-22

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near" - Matt. 4:17

We come across two central themes there a call for repentance of sins and recruitment of disciples. These are the two fundamental requisites for the growth of the Kingdom of Heaven. St. Mathew usually used Kingdom of Heaven, while other evangelists used Kingdom of God which is the same as the former in meaning. The targeted audience of St. Mathew's gospel was mainly the Jewish community who never takes God's name (Kingdom of God) in vain based on God's commandment, so he used the Kingdom of Heaven, which is synonymous to the other. Kingdom of Heaven/God is the sphere where God reigns, repentance is the acknowledgment of God's rule.

John the Baptist and Jesus Christ started their public ministry with a powerful message of REPENTANCE.

"And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (St. Mk. 1:4, NIV).

Jesus proclaimed,

"Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near" (St. Matt. 4:17, NIV).

His call was not addressed to the nation as a whole like that of in the Old Testament, but it was personal to each individual. Repentance is a golden key to Heaven, while the recruitment of disciples meant to prepare people how to use the key to open the door. When Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus promised him 'keys of the Kingdom of Heaven' (St. Matt. 16:19).

The first man in the Holy Bible to call people for repentance was Noah. Because of his righteous life he and his family were secured from the destruction by flood. Later on, many prophets stood firm for God calling people for turning away from their sins. A long line of such men of God may be presented here, as Isaiah (Is 1), Ezekiel (Ezek 18), Jonah (Jon. 3), Joel (Joel 2) and Jeremiah (Jer. 31).

Salvation was unconditionally given to many known sinners who repented, according to New Testament.

(1) An adulterous woman who was brought to Christ for judgment and punishment was released due to her repentance.

(2) The publican who admitted that he was a sinner while praying at the temple was accepted, where a Pharisee boasting of his self-righteousness was denied by the Omniscient God (St. Lk. 18).

(3) The repented prodigal son was welcomed back to his home with a great celebration (St. Lk. 15).

(4) Peter who shed tears for betraying Jesus was redeemed (St. Lk. 23).

(5) The thief on the right side of the crucified Christ prayed and confessed at the last moment of his life was immediately allowed to be in Paradise with Christ (St. Lk. 23).

(6) There are many more examples to cite. We wonder how powerful and beneficial the repentance and tears are!

What is Repentance?

(1) The Greek word for repentance is 'Metanoia' which means after- thought, perception afterwards and change of mind. Spiritually, it means a conversion of life, a change from wrong to right, a change in outlook, a change from sin to sainthood. As sin is a departure from God (as Adam ran away from God), the repentance is an arrival to Him. When prodigal son's sin of disobedience distanced him from his father, his repentance brought him closer to mend the broken relationship with the father (St. Lk. 15:18-20). He got a changed and better vision of life. In St. John's gospel and first epistle the repentance is stressed as the "new birth" meaning a turning away from sin to God by the exercise of faith and baptism (Jn 3:3, 1Jn 1:9).

(2) Repentance is reconciliation with God. When sin disputes with God, repentance makes peace with Him. God says, "Return to me, and I will return to you" (Malachi 3:7). The prodigal son, who reconciled with his father, said, "Father, I have sinned against Heaven and against you." (St. Lk. 15:21). (3) Repentance means spiritual awakening. A sinful person is unaware of his state of spiritual life. The Bible says to the sinful, "that now it is high time to awake out of sleep" (Rom. 13:11). Looking at this context, repentance is spiritual awareness and return of a person to himself, the return of one's self to its original sensitivity, the heart to its fervor and the conscience to its work. It is rightly said about the prodigal son that he "came to himself" (St. Lk. 15:17), meaning his return to a state of alertness, to his correct thinking and spiritual understanding and respect towards the values of his family he once scornfully discarded.

What are the privileges of Repentance?

(1) Repentance makes you eligible for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If sins are regarded as the spiritual death (Rom 6:23, Wages of sin is death), forgiveness is the transfer from death to life. St. James 5:20 says, "Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

(2) Repentance resulting from the divine act inside a person causes to form a new heart in him/her to obey God Almighty.

God says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you? and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them" (Ezek. 36: 25-27). Prayer and submission are required for the divine intervention.

(3) The true repentance gives the power to forsake sins without returning to them. It leads us to a life of purity and closeness to the Lord who is holy and glorious. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Ps 51:17). (4) The heaven rejoices over those who repent (St. Lk. 15:7), and a great wave of joy is flooded in their homes, as evident in the repented prodigal son's family (St. Lk. 15:22-27). Sin kills real joy of personal and family life while repentance brings it alive.

What is the practical side of repentance from Orthodox Christian perspective?

The Church invites every one for repentance through confession. A true confession should have all the attributes of repentance as explained above. The Church fathers were very mindful of the necessity of repentance/confession. St. Anthony said, "Ask for repentance during every moment."

St. Basil, the great Cappadocian father said, "It is good that you do not sin. If you do sin, then it is good that you do not delay repentance. If you repent, then it is good that you do not return to sin. If you do not return, then it is good that you know this is with God's help. If you know, then it is good that you thank Him for the state that you are in."

Malankara World Journal Archives on Repentance and Remission of Sins
Volume 6 No 324 January 7 2016
Repentance and Remission of Sins

Volume 4 No 244: October 31, 2014
Theme: Keys to The Kingdom - Forgiveness

Volume 4 No 229: July 25, 2014
Theme: Unforgivable Sin

More on Repentance and confession of Sins in Malankara World Journal Nineveh Lent Special


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