Righteousness and Redemption –

Another path to forgiveness: Repentance and Confession

Jeremiah 3:11-13, 19-25; Jeremiah 4:1-2
Jeremiah 36:1-10, 21-25
Daniel 9:1-24
Psalms 32:1-11
1 Kings 8:25-40; 2 Chronicles 7:11-14
Mark 1:9-15; Matthew 4:12-17
Mark 6:6b-13; Luke 13:1-9
Acts 2:25-39
1 John 1:5 – 2:6
James 5:13-20

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Jeremiah 3:11-13, 19-25; Jeremiah 4:1-2 (8/22/11)

There’s three kinds of sorry: sorry you got caught, sorry you did it, and sorry you are the kind of person who did it. The latter is connected with repentance.

One Hebrew word for “repent” is shoob turn back, and the Greek word for “repent” is metanoia think differently. Only when we think and act differently are we showing true repentance. God wants us to change our minds, turn around, and go back to him so that we can be forgiven.

Jeremiah 36:1-10, 21-25 (8/23/11)

The last book-burning I heard about was for the Harry Potter series. I figure, if you don’t like a book, don’t buy it – that’s much harder on the author than paying him royalties and then giving him free publicity to boot.

God keeps hoping that we will turn away, or repent, from our evil ways so that we may have forgiveness. To encourage us in this, He sends prophets. He has the prophets write books. Some of us just don’t read the books, but others of us burn them, like King Josiah. Either way, it makes God unhappy when we refuse to hear the message.

Daniel 9:1-24 (8/24/11)

Daniel confesses his own sins and the sins of his people. Then he asks for forgiveness, not because he deserves it, but because he knows that God is gracious and willing to forgive those who repent. He gets an immediate answer, when the angel Gabriel is sent to him; however, he doesn’t get an immediate improvement in his situation. Even in the face of forgiveness, the inevitable consequences of sin will still take effect in the world.

Psalms 32:1-11 (8/25/11)

David tells us that he’s happy if he has forgiveness (vs. 1), because God sees no evil in him (vs. 2), because he told God all about his wrongdoing (vs. 5a), because he decided to do that (vs. 5b).

So the chronological sequence is this: David decided to confess, he told God his sins, God forgave him, and David is happy. Repent, confess, be forgiven, be happy.

And by the way, some of the newer translations (like this one), have “happy” where the older ones have “blessed.” Presumably this is why fellow reader Carol N. asked me a couple weeks ago whether the original languages mean “happy” or “blessed.” I said, “Yes.” She said, “Which is a better translation in modern English?” I still said, “Yes.”

In the eyes of the Biblical writers, blessed = happy, and happy = blessed. They can’t think of a way to be happy without being blessed, or vice versa.

1 Kings 8:25-40; 2 Chronicles 7:11-14 (8/26/11)

Solomon is praying at the dedication of the Temple. Four times in our reading today of this prayer, Solomon says, “If someone commits a sin, and turns back to you, O Lord God, listen, and forgive them.” And God answers, “If someone commits a sin, but repents and turns back, I will listen and forgive him.”

This week we’ve seen a consistent message from the Old Testament: sin requires repentance and confession. God forgives repentant sinners.

Mark 1:9-15; Matthew 4:12-17 (8/29/11)

The book of Mark was the first written gospel, and the first message from Jesus that Mark records is, “Repent!” In all four gospels, John the Baptist was preaching a baptism of repentance before Jesus began his own ministry.

Last week we saw that the primary Old Testament idea of repentance is “turning back,” so it’s interesting to me that some of the modern translations also use “turning back” for the Greek metanoia repentance.

Mark 6:6b-13; Luke 13:1-9 (8/30/11)

When Jesus sent out his apostles on a practice run, they also preached that their listeners should repent. As usual, the God’s Word translation translates repent as, “change the way they think and act,” which is a pretty accurate description of what it means to repent.

When Jesus is talking to the crowds about the daily news, he encourages people to repent now, because you never know when disaster will strike – at which time it will be too late to repent!

Acts 2:25-39 (8/31/11)

On Pentecost, a huge crowd listened intently to Peter as he preached. Cut to the heart, they asked, “What should we do?” He said, “Repent and be baptized in order that you may be forgiven.”

The Weymouth New Testament uses capital letters in Acts 2:17-21 to indicate that these verses quote from the Old Testament. Check this passage in the translation you normally read to see how your Bible indicates OT quotations.

1 John 1:5 – 2:6 (9/1/11)

John says that if we confess our sins, God will forgive them, although it’s better to avoid sinning in the first place.

Now, what’s all this about lying? John says in vs. 1:10 that if we deny that we have sinned, we make God a liar. I have always presumed that this means “make God out to be a liar,” as in, “imply that God is a liar.” This is also John Wesley’s take on it, and the Contemporary English Version just translates as “it is the same as calling God a liar.”

The flip side, John says in vs. 2:4, is that if we claim to know God, but we don’t do what he says, we are lying. If we really know God, we will want to do what he says, and failing that, we will confess our sins and shortcomings.

James 5:13-20 (9/2/11)

We’ve read this week and last week that confessing our sins to God is important – so important that we can’t be forgiven without doing it. James also encourages us to confess our sins to each other. John Wesley used this practice in the very early Methodist movement, but I haven’t heard much about it lately.

Now, I have the idea that there’s a pretty fine line these days between “confessing” and “bragging about,” so if you decide to confess your sins to another person, I suggest that you consider a couple of points:

More on Righteousness and Redemption
Righteousness is required
Works righteousness is not effective for redemption
Faith, all by itself, can lead forgiveness
Righteousness is imputed to those who have faith
Redemption = Being Ransomed by God from Sin and Death

Copyright 2011, 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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