Times & Directions       Prayer       Give Online       
Forgiveness: Repentance  part 2 of 3
(0 votes)
Add to favourites

Forgiveness: Repentance  part 2 of 3

So, if repentance and forgiveness are not emotions, what are they and how are they intended to work? And if we are to forgive endlessly, how is that not enabling bad behavior?


The conundrum arises in Matthew 18: 15-22. In this passage, Jesus is describing how the members of his inner circle, those who did their best to follow his teachings, should resolve harms done to one another. Jesus provided a process whereby the dispute could be resolved.

An attentive reading of the passage reveals that Jesus taught there is a clear difference between meting out consequences for harmful, freely chosen actions and forgiveness. A member of the community who refuses to work with the community to resolve problems is to be rejected not just by the person harmed, but by the entire community.


This teaching sounds harsh to many today. However, it seems to me that it is entirely consistent with Scriptural teaching about compassion and accountability. Adam and Eve, though loved and forgiven by God for their sins, were nevertheless ejected from the Garden of Eden and these formerly immortal beings were condemned to eventually die. Samson was forgiven by God, but suffered defeat, maiming, and humiliation as a consequence of choosing to break his oath to God.


Jesus was teaching a new way of being community, a way built upon God’s grace, love, and the power of the Holy Spirit. That community will only exist to the extent that its members not only intellectually assent to the foundational concepts, but also choose to act in accordance with those concepts. One’s actions must be easily seen to reflect one’s belief in Christ and decision to follow Christ.

This is why remorse is not sufficient; one must repent of what one has done. There are two main words in the Bible that are translated into various forms of the word “repent”: the Hebrew word “shuv” in the Old Testament, and the Greek word “metanoia” in the New Testament. Both words refer to a decisive change in attitude and action on the part of the sinner.


“Shuv” is also translated as “turn back” – a clear description of someone who chooses to go in an entirely new and different direction. “Metanoia” refers to a complete change of mind – what Paul calls the “new mind in Christ.” This change also includes behaving dramatically differently, a change empowered by the Holy Spirit.


One who repents may feel exactly the same as they did before. An alcoholic may still want alcohol. A gossip may yearn to talk about other people. But the grace of Christ and love of God prompt them to behave differently when they are tempted.

A person changed in this way by the grace of Christ will accept the consequences of their actions. Arrested for a DUI, the alcoholic will plead guilty and be grateful to make amends. The gossip will bear the embarrassment of apologizing to those they offended, and accept the fact that it will take time to earn back their trust.


What motivates those who truly repent is not any emotion, for emotions come and go. They are, instead, motivated by the new life that now lives within them. This deep change in the soul is strong and profoundly shifts a person’s sense of identity. They may want to drink, but they are no longer a slave to alcohol; they are a forgiven child of God, and have the strength they need to resist and ask for help when they need it.

This helps understand repentance. What about forgiveness and reconciliation? That’s next.


Pastor Vivian, Executive Pastor

Church Website Login
This is the STAFF LOGIN area. If you have no website account, click the Pencil Icon link above to create one. Then, confirm your account through email. One of our admins will then confirm who you are and approve the account.