Amending versus Repenting
verb – to alter, modify, rephrase, or add to or subtract from (a motion, bill, constitution, etc.) by formal procedure: Congress may amend the proposed tax bill. To change for the better; improve: to amend one’s ways. To remove or correct faults in; rectify. To grow or become better by reforming oneself: He amends day by day.
verb – to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct; regret or be conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc. (often followed by of): He repented after his thoughtless act.to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. To remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition: to repent one’s injustice to another.to feel sorry for; regret: to repent an imprudent act.
Amending oneself is an act of self improvement. Albeit admirable and a likely by-product of repentance and Godly living; cleaning up your act, or becoming the “best you” by the world’s standards, is not the true reformation that God requires of those who choose to truly follow Him. NO amount of self improvement will ever be enough to reach God’s holy and high standards.
So why would God create man in His image if man consistently fails to meet His standards?
FAITH. We are to live by FAITH.
God created man with FREE WILL; the choice to either have Faith in Him or not. God didn’t make robots to robotically do His Will. Unlike robots or animals, we are created with the ability to LOVE God. When we LOVE God, we want to know His Word and do His Will; so that God, not man, would be glorified.
What? That’s all? Whew, that’s great. So all I have to do is SAY I have faith and say that I love Him and I can go on living whatever way I please?
Well, why not consult the scriptures for an answer?
SAYING one has faith and love, is far different than actually HAVING Faith and Love. It’s a matter of the heart. When you truly love someone (like your child or your spouse), you will want to do anything for them.
THIS is what our Father in Heaven desires from His Children. He doesn’t want robots. He doesn’t want religion. He wants RELATIONSHIP.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37.
God knows everything about us. He created us. Many people believe that God exists, and many people SAY they believe that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. But do they really trust and love Him? This is not an unreasonable question to ask. You see, even the devil “believes” that God exists.
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19
Here’s a great article: https://www.gotquestions.org/even-the-demons-believe.html
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” 2 Corinthians 13:5
So the intent of our hearts is pretty important. You know, those things that we HIDE from the world… and from ourselves?
Do not be deceived by outward appearance. Someone could have a fat bank account; a beautiful face; an immaculate home; an upstanding reputation; a buff & tattoo-free body; happy children; great health; a fairytale marriage; a truckload of friends; regular church attendance & tithing; and STILL harbor filthy and wicked intentions.
Having wealth, beauty and popularity isn’t sinful in and of itself; nor is it proof of godliness; but do you LOVE God with all your heart?
At the other end of the spectrum, you could be soberly regretful while serving time in prison, but still be unrepentant in your heart. You could be outwardly lowly and meek, but still harbor hatred and contention in your heart. You could be homeless and penniless; but still have covetousness in your heart. You could be abstinent and chaste, but still have lust and adultery in your heart.
Being poor, downtrodden or virginal isn’t a sign of godliness in and of itself; nor is it necessarily a curse of sin; but do you LOVE God with all your heart?
On the flip side, you could’ve chosen to reject all worldliness and live a simple, happy, carefree life. Maybe you’ve lost everything through misfortune. Maybe you’ve been ostracized or rejected because you just didn’t “fit in”. You may be suffering physical or mental pain or dealing with persecution. It may seem like you’re being punished or worse…cursed: But if you LOVE the Father with all your heart, mind and soul, you have something the world cannot offer you; a divine relationship with the ONE who created you. You have His promise of eternal life. You are RICH beyond measure.
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:1-2
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from years of TV “programming” and briefly working in the film industry, humans can be immensely deceptive and convincing actors and actresses. I’ve been fooled by many and in honest retrospect, I’ve done my fair share of fooling too.
What we must understand is that the Lord sees what others cannot see; He sees the inner man.
Amending oneself deals primarily with outward appearances. It may require immense sacrifice, hard work, temperance, and psychotherapy; but it requires no contrition, sorrow, guilt or even Faith in God. Amending one’s ways isn’t borne from the realization that one has sinned against their Creator. Therefore, one can amend themselves until the cows come home, but without Faith that leads to Godly repentance, it’s a worldly act of flesh and frankly speaking, an act of futile vanity; often resulting in viewing oneself as better than others; even as a god.
This kind of discussion might offend those psycho-babble, self-improvement type folks or those who’ve relied on their rigorous people-pleasing personal works of duty to maintain status above those “others” who didn’t measure up. How do I know? Because regrettably at times, I thought and behaved a lot like this; especially when I was caught up in the new age, metaphysical nonsense.
I used to believe that there was no such thing as heaven or hell; no right or wrong. Moral relativity was the M.O.. However, I thought that by recycling, giving money to the homeless guy on the corner, volunteering, smiling, meditating, thinking positive thoughts, being vegetarian and enlightening myself with yoga poses every day, I was a good person!
Jesus had some words to say concerning this:
“And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17.
Jesus also said:
“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32
Who did Jesus contend with the most while He was here on Earth? The Pharisees! Those who did such good works that they couldn’t possibly believe in or need Jesus. He had some very strong words for these guys: “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” Matthew 23:33.
Jesus also rebuked them with:
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44
True repentance deals with (and amends) the inner man, the heart and the spirit. Repentance requires heartfelt sorrow and contrition ( another word for guilt) for wrongdoing. But how will one have contrition if they never do anything wrong? Repentance is a direct response to the knowledge that one has hurt someone they truly LOVE. If we can relate this to our friends and family, how much greater shall we relate this to our Creator?
It is better to be a follower who fails than one who fails to follow.
Repentance requires the humility to submit yourself to the sovereign authority of God and admit that no amount of work or self improvement (amendments) will grant entrance to His Kingdom. It takes humility to resolve that we have no real power in ourselves; in our flesh. We can only please God through FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.” Matthew 23:12.
Faith in Jesus Christ as the virgin-born, only begotten Son of God, who is God, was God and with God in the beginning, who came to Earth as the sinless sacrifice for the world’s sin, the One True Messiah, the Way, Truth and Life, who came NOT to destroy the Law but to fulfil the Law; HE is the only way to that which has any worth: The Kingdom of God.
We can all agree that a large part, if not the whole of life, is about learning. Our brains are hard wired for learning. It’s another magnificent gift from our Father in heaven.
The sources from which we learn are innumerable: books, family, friends, teachers, the world around us, and unfortunately…mistakes. The issue is not if we make mistakes, but if we learn from them and turn from them. Some, like myself, have A LOT more mistakes to learn from than others!
There’s a familiar saying: “History forgotten is history repeated.” The phrase, learning from one’s mistakes naturally implies that the mistake is not repeated, usually through making certain amendments.
No amount of amendments you make in your life will ever match the Grace and Forgiveness that Jesus Christ offers. You cannot work your way into Heaven. You cannot earn salvation. It is a free gift offered to ALL.
However, by truly giving your life to Jesus Christ, (being Born Again); there will be amendments made. Some will be immediate, some will work out in time and some through the span of your life. In order for one to be born again, there must be a death. Not a literal death, but a spiritual death. Being born again involves the process of dying to self and accepting the Truth that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and His Word is Truth.
Being born again doesn’t instantly make you a perfect person. If you’re fortunate, being born again will reveal just how far from perfect we really are. God’s Word is a lamp, a light that shines into our darkest places to reveal the impurities that hinder our perfect union with Him. A true sign of being Born Again is a Godly sorrow for sin and a willingness to make these life amendments in order to bear the Fruit that makes us part of the Vine.
Grace will lead you to repentance from sin. Grace will NEVER lead you to sin; neither is Grace a license to sin.
Licentious (continuous and deliberate) sinning while claiming the cover of God’s Grace is like playing Russian roulette. I believe this is what’s meant by taking the Lord’s name in vain. By doing so, you are tempting God. This is something I learned the hard way. The errant, vain and selfish belief that God wants me to be happy above all else, DESPITE HIS COMMANDS…nearly sent my soul into eternal damnation.
The Father showed me how serious He is about His Word…ALL OF IT. He directed me to Matthew 22:37-38:
Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.”
This is why I find the Holy Bible to be my go-to infallible rock solid guide for learning. Contained within, there’s much historical, practical and spiritual information on what TO do; but there’s also much information on what NOT to do.
Although we should be living our lives to please the Father, Christians are not exempt from making mistakes. In fact, some of the biggest and baddest mistakes we can learn from are in the Bible. The most epic mistakes were made by those who believed in and loved God. King David, the man after God’s heart, is one example. And David indeed paid for his mistakes.
There are many things in this world that could use amending.
However, God’s Word is NOT one of those things.
God’s Word is perfect and eternal. If I’ve learned any lessons from mistakes, it’s this one thing: Be very cautious when interpreting the Bible. Do not rely on personal opinion or perspective. Do not rely on sermons or preachers. Seek Godly counsel, but READ THE BIBLE FOR YOURSELF. God will speak to you through His Word. When in doubt, ask God for clarity. Meditate (ponder, think deeply) on the scriptures.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
Don’t rely on self help books written by Christian authors who sound more like motivational-speaking life coaches than ministers of the Gospel. Use scripture to interpret scripture. God’s Truth is found within God’s Word because God’s Truth IS God’s Word! Amen.
This is why I have uber scepticism for those who reject or amend any part of the Bible. God’s Word is Perfect and True.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:19-21.
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19
For example, in respect to the Old Testament, common red flag phrases I hear are, “That book isn’t relevant today” or “That’s not for Gentiles” or the worst one yet, “That was only about Law, not Grace”.
The entire Bible is FILLED with God’s Grace. From the beginning, immense Grace was given to Adam and Eve! The fact that they had everything they needed and wanted, but broke His one, very simple commandment; and God allowed them to live in His garden is sufficient proof, wouldn’t you agree?
Even the Apostle Paul would beg to differ:
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2Timothy 3:16-17
Did Paul say most scripture? Some scripture? No, he said ALL scripture.
Again, we must be very cautious when giving or seeking advice concerning Scripture. We are to seek Godly counsel, however, seek answers through prayer and meditating on His Word before you run to men. I’m preaching to myself too; I’ve made some major mistakes with this!
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
True Spiritual knowledge is gained in Spirit and will line up with correct doctrine. Some of the most Holy Spirit filled folks would probably be considered illiterate, but somehow they can grasp a powerfully adept understanding of scripture. Nonetheless, we’re called to study to show ourselves approved. I’m selective as to which Bible translation I read. For example, in the NIV and NAS, the word Lord is omitted many times when referring to Jesus Christ. That personally bothers me.
Another example is in the first verse of Romans 8. I’ll compare the KJV with the NIV…
KJV: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
NIV: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,”
Wow…does it seem like something PERTINENT is missing in the NIV version; or am I just being nit-picky?
Decide for yourself. Here’s a link to reference: https://www.helpersofyourjoy.com/your-bible/kjv-vs-modern-bible-chart/
Invest in a Strong’s Concordance. This way you can see the Hebrew and Greek equivalents to words in the Scripture. Fancy, proper Hebrew pronunciation is not the goal. Depth of meaning may offer greater insight though. Even if we were all fortunate (and fluent) enough to be able to read the original texts in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek; it would futher behoove us to be cautious about reading scripture with the wrong intent.
This is why we must pray and seek wisdom from and in the Holy Spirit.
“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13
Admittedly and regrettably, in my own walk, I’ve allowed the pendulum to sway too far to one side or the other. This happened when I read the Bible with the wrong intent, or failed to read the Bible as often as I should. I’ve stumbled into playing the legalist who hyper-focused on works, and I’ve also played the lukewarm phony, who hyper-focused on Grace. Both ways are wide and deviate from the Doctrine of Christ.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13-14.
The narrow way is the Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He is the Alpha and Omega. Since Jesus was present at the beginning of time (John 1:1), it makes perfect sense to seek Him and His Grace in ALL scripture; from Genesis to Revelation.
He is Love and He is Just. He is Perfect and Holy. Without Him, we are nothing. If we believe in Him, and all that He promises, then shouldn’t we believe in all that He teaches?
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19
“And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Luke 11:27-28