“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:1-4)
One of the great tragedies of the modern church is that we have allowed the humanistic philosophies of the Enlightenment to color our interpretation of God’s Word, instead of taking His word for what it is – the truth. We have abandoned truth in favor of our own morally relativistic perspective of life that disregards God’s definition of sin and have compromised our understanding of what it means to be disciple of Christ.
In fact, we have gone so far as to no longer publicly discuss the basic spiritual principle of repentance. The prevailing gospel message of the last several decades as been if we simply pray a prayer of forgiveness and get baptized, that is all we need to do in order to obtain our “fire insurance” and avoid hell. However, now we find ourselves even denying the existence of Hell. If Hell doesn’t exist, then why did Jesus even go to the cross to reconcile us to God Himself. If God is holy and just, then it necessitates the existence of an eternal punishment for those who defy His Word. The question then is “Is there salvation without repentance?”
Our salvation is not dependent upon our works. Ephesians makes this clear that we are saved through grace, not works. But repentance is the evidence of the transformation that comes from genuine salvation. Repentance comes as we are motivated out of gratitude and love for our Abba as we seek to please Him. Repentance means turning away from a harmful path to a path that is designed for our betterment. Repentance is the choice to walk in His way because we know our way was not working. If there is no transformation, there is no salvation.
Recently I was watching a few of our grandchildren at a small park on a river in Belton, Texas. We were near a pizza restaurant and there were some concrete stairs about 5 feet high going down towards the river from where we were about 200 feet away. As I was watching our grandchildren play, I noticed the youngest (17 months old) curiously taking quick steps towards the stairs going down. Fearing for her safety, I took off running as quickly as I could, but her dad saw me running, assessed the situation and took off as well and beat me to her before she could tumble down the stairs. And then he walked her back to where the rest of the family was gathered.
This is the picture of repentance and what it means to “walk in newness of life.” Left to our own devices, we were and are heading towards disaster with nothing forward but the potential danger and pain. But the Father comes along and he scoops us up to save us from our own curious devices and carries us to safety in His arms. And He brings us into a family that is there to help guide us and keep us safe from the dangers of this world.
Sometimes we may not like it. We want to scream and throw our fits and still do our own thing, but Jesus is the better way. The holy way. The grace way. He loves us enough to give us boundaries by which to live. He loves us enough to discipline us when we cross those boundaries. And He wants us to trust Him and His way.