So often we use the words "repentance" and "forgiveness" interchangeably. Both are important and necessary, yet distinctly different. We can apologize and ask for forgiveness, but it does not mean that we are repentant. Any parent, myself included, can attest to this fact. Consider a play date gone awry. In an effort to instill morals and discipline, we tell our children, "Apologize" or "Say you're sorry". What is the response? A muffled, grumbled, "...Sorry...". Clearly, that is not a repentant heart; that's a contrived apology to placate parental embarrassment.
Godly repentance in the context of scripture is to change one' mind for the better. It is the Greek word, "metanoeo" meaning to think differently, to reconsider morally, to be consciously aware of sins and therefore sorrowful and intent on obtaining God's pardon. It is to turn; to change one's behavior or way of thinking.
Acts 8 outlines the story of Simon the sorcerer. He was a powerful magician who was held in high regard by the people of Samaria. They even referred to him as "the Great One--the power of God". However, when Philip began to preach the Gospel, the people of Samaria began to believe in the true and living God and converted to Christianity--including Simon the sorcerer. He was even baptized. Sounds good, right? Well...we have to read on.
When the apostles,Peter and John arrived, they prayed and laid hands on the new converts that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. When Simon the sorcerer saw this, he offered the apostles money to buy the power of God that worked through them, so that he could do what they were doing. Peter's response was, "May you perish with your money!" He urged him to repent for thinking he could buy the power of God. Peter called Simon on the jealousy, bitterness, and iniquity in his heart. Simon's response is as interesting as it is revealing; he asks Peter to pray for him that the terrible things Peter spoke of would not happen to him! Rather than repent, take ownership, and turn from sin, he asks Peter to do the work for him.
Simon the sorcerer liked power. He liked prestige. He liked being regarded by others. How often do we remain in bondage, captive to sin because we are unwilling to repent? Unwilling to take ownership for our sin and depravity? Unwilling to change our behavior or turn from sin because we derive some sort of pleasure or enjoyment by what we are doing?
If this is you today, make a conscious and deliberate decision to turn away from sin and turn to God. He is better than anything you turn away from. As you turn to him, he will greet you with loving arms of acceptance and healing.
Father, in the name of Jesus', I humbly come before you with a repentant heart. I pray that you would forgive me of my sins. I make a decision to turn away from sin and turn to you. Thank you for your love, acceptance, healing, and forgiveness. I receive it now. Amen.
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