Perhaps we are familiar with the definition of repentance as being a “turning away” from one thing (sin) towards another (Christ), or as Pastor Mark put it Sunday, an about-face. However, let’s reconsider the participation of the mind in the phenomenon of turning away.
For many of us who already follow Christ, we are already aware that what we are doing in a moment of temptation is not right. As Paul said in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” So where does reconsidering come into play? It seems to me that it has to do with more than simple agreement about what is right or wrong. We often already know the answer to that. (This is an incredibly difficult subject, and it is important to note that we are only covering one aspect of the role of temptation and repentance in our lives here.)
Paul follows his statement with, “If I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.” In other words, his very desire to not do it is in agreement with the fact that the law exists. I wonder if the key is found later when he says, “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…”
Let us say we binge a show on Netflix. We may feel vaguely guilty, may apologize to our heavenly Father for using our time slovenly, and all of this shows an agreement intellectually with his law. But there is missing the inner delight in God’s law, the deep recognition or belief in our heart and mind that His way is truly ideal. And ultimately, our actions simply will not follow if our hearts and minds are not on board. If we are honest, we believe that a lot of our sins and vices are not that bad or don’t really hurt anyone.
How do we attain the higher calling? The Psalmist says that God desires truth in our inward being. So perhaps the first step would be to recognize that we don’t truly delight in Him or His ways. Perhaps take it a step further and confess that we are not even sure we WANT to delight in His ways because we cannot imagine our life being good without those things we cling to. The second step is watching as our Father slowly changes us. He is faithful, and has promised to complete the good work in us!