Repentance is Transformational
Key Principle #4: Repentance (part 2)
11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? … 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”
Acts 3:11-12, 19
Repentance Is Transformational
When we are saved, we undergo a transformation. Peter had denied Christ only a few months earlier but now was boldly preaching in the temple. It’s more than just a change in our attitude or outlook on life. It is a total transformation of our mindset.
When I was in school, there was a paddle that one of my teachers had (this was in the day when corporal punishment was not an optional choice to be made by the parents and even if it were, most parents would have opted for it). The teacher called it an “attitude adjustment” board.
The teacher told the story about the farmer who also had an attitude adjustment board in his mule-driven cart. The farmer got married and as they were coming home from the church, the mule stopped abruptly in the road, jerking the farmer and his bride suddenly forward. “Now, Mule, that’s one,” the farmer said and the mule looked back and then went forward. A few minutes later, the mule stopped suddenly again and the farmer said, “Now, Mule, that’s two.” The mule looked back and then started clopping down the road. Sure enough the mule jerked to a stop for no reason, and the farmer took the “attitude adjustment” board down off the wagon, went to the mule and “BAM!” The farmer had swung the board as hard as he could at the head of the mule, and said, “Mule, that’s three.”
The newlywed bride was aghast as the farmer’s sudden temper and his poor treatment of the mule. She started yelling at her groom, saying didn’t he know how cruel he was and how much they needed that mule and how he could have killed the poor animal. The farmer looked at his wife, and said to her quietly, “Honey, I love you, but woman, that’s one!”
Repentance is not an attitude adjustment. It is not a result of the “board of education applied to the seat of knowledge.” It is a change in your heart and spirit, resulting in a change of your minds, which leads to a change in your actions. It literally means to “think again” and actually comes before, during and after salvation. You can no more have salvation without repentance than a company of soldiers can have an “about face” without changing directions.
I hesitate to say repentance comes after salvation because then would imply that repentance is somehow optional for the believer. But I also am reluctant to say it comes as a part of salvation, for that would imply that we are saved by something meritorious that we do to earn or deserve our salvation. And I recoil at saying it comes prior to salvation, as we who are dead in our trespasses and sins have no inclination in our fallen state to repent or to be converted. Therefore (have you ever noticed we never say therefore unless we are doing a Bible study…but I digress) Therefore, I say that repentance comes before, during and after our salvation!
Perhaps the best thing to say is that if you think you are saved, but you do not have a change in your heart and mind, which is repentance, to the point where your actions and lifestyle is changed, which is conversion, then you are no more saved than the lame man was healed if he refused to rise up and walk, though God gave him strength to do so. What would happen to such a man? His healed feet would atrophy to the point that they would do him no good.
In fact, you may be worse than such man. What if you only thought you were healed, errantly supposing that at any time you could simply rise up and walk, but didn’t because you feared losing your income as an alms collector. You rather like being carried around by others and the familiarity of your regular spot at the Temple. So you continue to be carried by others and never make use of your feet, never testing the strength of your ankles. You would be delusional, thinking, “Someday, when I’m good and ready, I’ll rise up and walk,” but in reality, your legs, ankles, and feet are a lame as that of a rubber duck.
Such is the case of a professed Christian man or woman who is a Christian in name only, but has no works or only nominal works to show for the praise of others in this life. Such a woman may think she has “repented” when in reality, she will die in her sins. “One of these days, I’ll surprise you, preacher, and I’ll come to church,” such a man may say. Such a woman may even get baptized, but not because she has truly repented of her sins and had them washed away, but because she thought it was what all good people were supposed to do or because her friends, her husband, her boyfriend or her children did so.
Such a person may be like the person Jesus spoke of in that day of judgment in the greatest sermon ever given, found in Matthew 7. Such unrepentant persons will call out to the Lord Jesus Christ, only to hear Him whom they called Lord, but never obeyed Him as Lord, declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”
Are you being transformed? If not, you likely have not repented and you therefore have not been saved from your sins, your spiritual lameness.