Monday, October 05, 2009

Repentance: Saying No and Saying Yes

Peter exhorts us to gird up the loins of our minds, to be sober, to hope in the grace of Jesus Christ as obedient children, not conforming ourselves to the former lusts as in our ignorance. Notice that Peter exhorts us to both put on and to put off. The exhortation is to put off the former lusts and ignorance and to put on hope and sobriety and alertness. This is what repentance always does. Repentance turns. It turns from one action and turns to another. Put off sin, and put on righteousness. Stop disobeying, and start obeying. Frequently when we find ourselves sinning and frequently when it’s a sin that seems to reappear and afflict us, we tend to think we just need to try harder. We just need to concentrate on saying ‘no.’ And of course we do need to learn to say ‘no,’ but the call of the gospel and the pattern of repentance is always simultaneously learning to say ‘yes.’ Jesus is not the great miser up in heaven. Discipleship is not becoming children of some kind of cranky nanny. We are called to say ‘no’ to the lusts of the flesh and to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, to say ‘yes’ to selfless service, to say ‘yes’ to girding up the loins of our minds and hoping in the grace of Jesus. If you are fighting the sin of angry outbursts, you need to put sinful anger off and put love and kindness and tender-mercies on. If you are battling lust, then you need to put off those desires, but you must also put on biblical love, joy, peace, and patience. Lastly, we should note that Peter emphasizes the mind here. He exhorts us to put off ignorance which characterizes those who are enslaved to the flesh, and instead, he calls us to gird up the loins of our minds. While righteousness is not the same thing as being smart, there is a connection. Fighting sin takes mental alertness, sobriety, and as Peter says, a great deal of hope. But we cannot be surprised when lazy minds drift into the former lusts. But God gives more grace.

“Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (Js. 4:6-7)

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