Most Christians have an Old Testament mindset when it comes to the word … Repentance. Their idea is, “I really need to do better. I need to stop doing the bad stuff and start doing the good stuff.” That is the traditional meaning of the word repentance and … of course … everybody should always strive to do their best. But the New Testament reveals that there is a repentance that functions at a much higher level than just “trying to do better.” Remember that God gave the Law to the nation of Israel and they proved for centuries that no matter how hard a person tried, nobody under that covenant could perfectly keep the Law. Notice these verses from the book of Ephesians:
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Notice what Paul does not say. He does not say, “Force your old man to do better.” Basically, that’s all the Old Testament saints could do because the new birth was not available until after the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. All through history prior to the cross, when people were told to repent … that meant they were to use their willpower to try and “do better.” Through sheer force of will, they could do better for a while, but eventually the sin nature within them would once more come to the surface. Sin would emerge and they would have to offer another lamb as a sacrifice.
Paul exhorts New Testament believers in the book of Ephesians to put the old man OFF … not try to make the old man do better. The truth of the matter is, from God’s perspective, when we were born again the old man was crucified with Christ. Our job is not to make the old man do better. Our job is to keep the old man buried in the ground where he belongs. God did more for us than just forgive us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He gave us the ability to be literally “reborn” from God’s own Spirit. That is the “new man” that Paul refers to in verse 24 above. Notice that this new man, our reborn human spirit, is “after God” meaning it is “created in God’s image.” God is righteous and holy and so is that “new man” within us. That is the true meaning of the verse that says,
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
The Greek word translated “new creature” in that verse is KTISIS and it literally means, “original formation.” It does not mean something that already exists being renewed. It means something being created that did not exist before. As Paul says, it is a “new man.” At our core (our spirit man) each of us is a new creature. There is a spirit within us that is spawned from the Last Man Adam … Jesus Christ. Our reborn human spirit is created in righteousness and true holiness. The natural question becomes, “Well, brother Gary, if I have this new spirit on the inside of me that is righteous and holy, why do I keep stumbling and falling and sinning as I journey through life?”
Now we have come to the crux of the matter. Walking holy and righteous before God does not come by the rebirth of our spirit. It comes by the renewing of our mind to agree with that “new man” within us. We literally “put on the new man” as we allow our minds to be renewed by the nature God placed within us at the new birth. That’s why Paul says in Ephesians to “be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” He says virtually the same thing in his letter to Rome:
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
So what is New Testament repentance? It is to submit our minds to the renewal process. No matter if we have had fifty years of history with the “old man,” at the new birth we are regenerated with a new spirit that is created righteous and holy. We often refer to the voice of that new nature as our conscience. Repentance means: We submit our minds to our reborn human spirit … our conscience. The reborn spirit within us is a faithful guide. God has written His Law in our hearts … in our reborn human spirit.
As our mind is renewed to the promptings of that new nature, it changes our walk … how we function in our daily lives. The new nature (the conscience) condemns every unrighteous act that we “think” of committing. It tells us not to lie, steal, cheat, etc.. To repent means, allow our minds to come under subjection to the new spirit God has placed within us. We allow our minds to be retrained by that new spirit. Our minds more and more become conformed to “think like God thinks” because the new man within is created to think righteous and holy thoughts. The first stage of repentance to “think like God thinks” causes us to progressively live more righteous and holy lives. But as we continue to allow our minds to be renewed to think like God thinks, the limits of what we believe is possible begin to come off also. Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” [Mark 9:23]
Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians that we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The natural mind automatically thinks of natural good works like, “feed the hungry and clothe the naked.” We should do those things. But Jesus said we would do much more than that. He said we would “do the same works He did.” [John 14:12] He is talking about operating in the supernatural realm of signs and wonders. The second level of repentance is to yield our natural minds to the training that renews our thinking to believe … “All things are possible!”
Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!
Your friend and co-laborer,
Gary Carpenter Ministries|
© 1996 - All Rights Reserved.
P.O. Box 9667, Tulsa, OK 74157