Repent the Right Way
Repentance is always a good thing, right? Actually, in both the Old and New Testaments, the same words used for repentance are also used in contexts of turning away from God. It’s possible to “repent” the wrong way. Repentance is based on a change of mind leading to a change of action. True repentance involves turning from our sin to God. In reverse repentance, people turn from God to sin.
The Israelites were notorious for reverse repentance. They were constantly turning from God to any number of false gods and pursuits. Human nature has not changed. There are still people who fall away from the faith, turning back to living in their sin or turning away from their previous gospel profession. And in lesser displays of reverse repentance, all Christians daily struggle with turning from obedience to disobedience.
True repentance is at the heart of biblical conversion. It is tied inseparably to faith. Reverse repentance is at the heart of selfish disobedience. It is tied inseparably to idolatry. We desperately need God’s grace to continue in our belief. We need His Spirit to regularly convict us and bring us back to a right relationship with our Father when we have turned away from Him and His commands.
Can you see yourself in the following verses?
“Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.” Acts 7:39 (see also Lev. 19:4; 2 Chron. 7:19; Neh. 9:29)
“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” Galatians 4:9
“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10