Scripture presents a progressive revelation. God’s greatest expression is the revelation of Jesus Christ, the true Word of God. The revelation of the Old Testament--which is still God’s words of life to us today--is made complete by the revelation of the New Testament. Consider the Old Testament word “repent” (teshuvah). It means to away turn from sin and its consequences. It is an action word: turn around, restore, repair. The New Testament word, metanoia, refers to the mind: rethink your thoughts, or, transform your mind. One kind of repentance comes only after the fact, the other can prevent us from the wrong choice beforehand. Of course, both kinds of repentance are good: the Old Testament reveals an outer repentance--one of action, while the New Testament reveals an inner repentance--one of transformation. Old Testament repentance tells us to retrace our steps, the New leads us to rethink our thoughts. The old repentance can pick up the pieces, the new can hold us together.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~ Romans 12:1
When Jesus said, for example, that one who looks after a another with heart-lust has already committed adultery, he was not trying to widen the net of condemnation. He was trying to reveal the possibilities of a transformed mind. He was teaching us that when we think God’s thoughts, we will realize adultery is harmful to us, the other person involved, and indeed all those we love. The New Testament “repent” cries out within our thoughts, “If you’ll think God’s way you’ll see fidelity is really the best thing for you.” And so with every aspect of our lives: unforgiveness, bitterness, greed and all the rest. Jesus introduced the gospel of the Kingdom with the word repent because the Kingdom of God must take root within us. Worldly kings impose their rule from the outside, Jesus plants his rule and reign on the inside and causes it to grow.
The truest repentance is to think God’s thoughts with him. True repentance causes us to walk in holiness instead of living in a cycle of sin and cleansing. True repentance demonstrates the grace of God by keeping us clean.
This week, why not consider the challenge of true repentance? It starts with facing the possibility that we really can learn to think God’s thoughts after Him.