“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
This isn’t the kind of message I always really like to read. Honestly, talk of perishing of any kind generally makes me uncomfortable, especially coming from Jesus. It’s just one of the scariest thoughts, that I could miss out on salvation and eternal life but instead perish. That’s something that I definitely want to make sure I get right.
Here, Jesus message is simple. Unless you repent, you will perish. What does that mean anyway? The dictionary definition of repent is more or less to have serious remorse over something. The biblical definition is similar, but goes a step farther. To repent, translated literally, means to turn. When Jesus says that we must repent, he is saying that we have to turn. He says we don’t just need to feel guilty and remorseful and then move on. He says that we need to recognize our sin, hate the sin, and turn away from it completely.
Imagine that you have a friend who lied to you. You found out, you confronted them, and they sincerely apologized. You forgave them and moved on. Then you found out again that they lied to you a second time. They apologized very sincerely a second time. How many times would this have to happen before you start to get the impression that their apologies are actually empty?
When you apologize for something, it’s meaningless without action to follow it up. The same applies to our sin. When we seek forgiveness, we may be earnestly remorseful, but if we don’t turn away from the sin, make every effort to rid it from our lives, then our apology was empty.
Christianity isn’t about messing up, feeling guilty, asking for forgiveness, and then doing it all over again.
Christianity is about trusting that the things God has instructed are for our good, hating the sins that contradict his will, and working hard to get them out of your life. Of course, no one will be perfect. Messing up and seeking forgiveness is a vital part of the process. But you must keep turning away from sin.
Don’t take this message as a scary and impossible task with hell to pay for failing. It’s tempting for me to feel that way too, but that’s never going to be the proper way to see it. You see, Jesus came not to scare us about death, but to assure us that we have nothing to fear. He defeated death once and for all and he has invited us into eternal life with him.
If you know Jesus, if you believe in him and are filled with the Holy Spirit, then you will turn from your sin with God’s help. If you haven’t yet repented and turned away from your sins, it’s never too late to start.
I pray that we wouldn’t fall prey to the trap of fear, but that we would find hope in the promise of Jesus. Help us to repent, truly and fully from our sin. Forgive us when we fail, and have mercy on us. Never let us lose sight of our assurance of life through Jesus.
In His Name,