Robert Morris - Repentance
So we are in a series called Good News. I talked to you last week about how the word gospel literally means "good news," but that the word refers to not just the news, but the one who brings the good news, the messenger, and that messenger being Jesus Christ. And then we're four weeks, this is our second week. And then I'm taking a word that is really bad news without the gospel, but the gospel can take that word and make it good news. And last week we talked about the word condemnation, that condemnation is a death sentence, but through Christ, it becomes an eternal life sentence instead of eternal death sentence. There is no death sentence for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1 says.
So this week I'm going to take a word that I think many believers think is a bad word, and it's actually a good word. It's good news. And the word is repentance. So I really believe that many believers have a bad view of this word and don't like it. And I can remember when I first found out the definition, which we'll go into a little deeper, but I was in Greek class. So that's, I was in Greek class years ago. And anyway, when you look back on your college years, you don't remember a lot of what the professor said, but every now and then there was something said that impacted you that you remember to this day, probably. And I do remember economics class. Economics class, I bought my economics book for $80 and then sold it back to them for $4 at the end of the semester, so I'm not sure I learned much about buy low and sell high from that class.
But anyway, in Greek class one day, the professor said, "The word repentance," and he was just kind of going on using it as an example, but he said, "It means change mind, or change the way you think. The verb would be change the way you think; the noun, your mind, change your mind". And then he just went on, and it just kind of... It didn't sit right with me because if you remember, when I was in college, I was already preaching youth revivals. Debbie and I were married. We got married after our first year of college. So that second year, I'm out preaching revivals, two or three a month, sometimes Friday through Sunday revivals, going to school, and I would preach. And the reason I would preach so hard is because I'd grown up in the church and I realized a lot of young people had made a mental commitment to Christ, but not a heart commitment.
So I was saying things like, "Repentance isn't changing your mind; it's changing your heart. It's changing your life. It's changing your actions. It's changing the way you live". And then I had this professor that says the word actually means "to change your mind". And so four or five minutes go by and I just couldn't take it any more, and so I said, "Can I ask a question"? He said, "Yes". I said, "I know, you know obviously much more about this than I do, but when you said repentance means to change your mind, I just, I've been telling people and trying to share Christ with people, and I've been telling them it's not a change of mind; it's a change of heart". And his answer to me was so profound and so impactful and so loving and so kind. He did not put me down at all. I'll never forget what he said. He said, "Robert, you don't have the ability to change your heart". He said, "Only God can change a human heart, but he gave you the ability to change your mind. And if you'll change your mind, he'll change your heart".
So I've never forgotten that. And so we're going to look at this. So I'm going to talk to you about three areas I want you to change your mind in today, and here's the number one. The first one is change your mind about repentance. Change your mind about the word repentance, that it's not a bad word. Now, let me tell you why we think it's a bad word. Preachers. Preachers have used this as a bad word. You know, "Repent"! "Repent"! "You people need to repent"! And we use it that way. And then preachers define it by their own definition. For instance, you ask people, ask most people what repentance means, they'll say something like this. "It means to turn from sin and turn to God". Okay. That can be a result of repentance, but it's not what the word means. If you're going to define a biblical word, go to the original language. We've talked about this, Hebrew Old Testament, Greek New Testament.
Now, I've studied Greek. I don't know if I'd say I'm a scholar. It depends on how you define scholar. If you define scholar as an expert, I'm not a scholar. If you define scholar as a student of the subject, I'm a scholar, a Greek scholar then. I've studied it for 40 years, this language. I love Greek. One of the reasons I love Greek is because it's so precise. It's so much, in other words, there are like actually more than four, but four major words for love, that we just say love, but the four major words, but they are actually six. But anyway, there are more words and they're very specific in their meaning. So I love Greek. I don't relate to people who will say, you know, there's an old saying, "Well, that's Greek to me". And I think, "No, that's not Greek to me because I know some Greek". I could say, "That's plumbing to me," 'cause I don't know plumbing. Or I can say, "That's IT to me".
I can say that because the only thing I need to know to do when my computer breaks is restart. That's it. And we have an IT department, and we have a guy that he, of course we have guys that do lots, but his primary job is to help Pastor Robert with his computer. It just takes a full-time guy to do that. And so he's wonderful. His name's Franky. He's a great guy, but he had to kind of get used to me though, because he would come in and fix it. And then he would say to me, "See what happened, Pastor Robert, is that your I drive was not communicating with your F drive. And then when your F drive tried to kick in, then your E drive moved, and then your X drive". And I finally said to him, "Franky, how much Greek do you know"? He said, "None". I said, "That's how much computer I know. I don't understand a word you're saying. When my computer breaks, I don't need to know how to fix it. I just need your cell number. That's all I need. Okay"?
So, let me give you the definition. So don't let a preacher come along and tell you repentance means to turn from sin to God, because that's not the definition although it could be a result of one aspect of repentance. Repentance comes from two Greek words. They're put together as one. The Greek word is metanoia. Metanoia. Meta means change, like metamorphis. If there's a change. Noia means mind. So that's the noun. The verb (I know you all want to know this) is metanoeō, which means change the way you think. Think is an action. So it's "change the way you think". Change your mind. This is what Jesus came preaching. I want you to change your mind. Let me just show you the first time the word repent is in the New Testament. Matthew 3:1. "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'" Matthew 4:17, one chapter later, "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'"
Now, I want you to notice a couple of things. First of all, I said this last week, but it bears saying again, Jesus and John did not say, "Repent, for hell is at hand". In other words, they didn't bring bad news. They brought good news. Again, every time you learn a definition, start putting the definition in the sentence when you read it. Here's what John and Jesus are saying: Change the way you're thinking about having a relationship with God. You have been thinking that the way you have a right relationship with God is by what you do. We're coming to tell you, John's saying, I'm telling you the Messiah is coming right after me. Jesus is saying, I'm telling you I'm the Messiah, and because I'm the Messiah, a whole new covenant is being set in, It is not a covenant of works anymore. It is a covenant of grace. And I want you to change your mind about the way you can have a relationship with God because it's not through works anymore. It's through faith. It's through grace. I need you to change your mind.
See, the way we hear this is that John and Jesus showed up and said, "Repent"! In essence, this is what we hear: "You dirty, rotten, low down sinners. Y'all change the way you're living and you can go to heaven". And I want to go back to what my Greek professor said, in essence, You can't change the way you're living. You can just change your mind about who Jesus is and Jesus can change the way you're living. So repentance is not a bad word. It is actually a very, very good word. I've also heard preachers say things like this. I would call them hyper-grace preachers. They say, Christians, I heard a preacher say, "Christians never need to repent again. They only need to repent one time".
Now his definition is, turn from sin, turn to God. And what he means is Christians don't need to get saved again, but it's foolishness to say, Christians never need to change their minds again. You need to repent every day. I know some of you. I need to repent every day. I told you about how I have a quiet time every day, 15 to 30 minutes, but once a week I have an extended time in the presence of the Lord. Normally it's one to two and a half hours. It's just mainly me entering into worship and just spending time in the presence of God. I do that once a week on my Sabbath. But I've gotten off base in that I went through a difficulty, and I started approaching that time as saying, "God, I really need you to speak to me. I really need a word from you. I really need to hear about this situation".
So just two days ago, it was a Thursday night. Normally Sabbath is on a Monday for me. And something happened, and so Thursday I just took some time, turned worship on, and about halfway through worship, the Lord said to me, "Will you quit trying to receive from me, and will you give to me? Will you worship me"? And I realized I'd been going into that time wanting God to give me something instead of wanting to give him something. And so I had to change my mind. Are y'all following me? And that one little adjustment, correction from the Lord, and I had one of the best worship times I've had in weeks because I went... And by the way, when you come to worship, whether it's a personal time or church time on the weekends, if you come to receive, you're missing it. We come to give. But the great thing is with God, if you give, you receive. Correction is part of repentance, and correction is not a bad word.
So I want to ask you a question, just for fun. And I don't want you to raise your hands, okay, because I am setting you up. I'm letting you know, I'm setting you up. So do not raise your hands, 'cause you'll want to raise your hands. I would raise my hand. Okay? So don't raise your hand. Don't nod. Don't look at the person beside you. Okay? Because many times when we hear something, we think, "You're talking to her". Okay. So I'm going to ask, here's the question for everybody. Don't raise your hands. How many of you sometimes (don't raise your hands) hate correction, or hate to be corrected. Don't raise your hands. Let me just read you a scripture. Proverbs 12:1, "he who hates correction is stupid". Don't you like it, how God just says what he thinks.
Now, this word is translated most of the time "foolish," but it's just, it's foolishness. Think about this. If you're going away and you miss a turn, when the GPS says, "Recalculating," you shouldn't get mad at the GPS because you don't want to go two hours out of the way. You want to know if you need to back up and make a... Are y'all following me? So when the Holy Spirit says to you, "Recalculating. I need you to change your mind". I want you to change... Is everyone getting this point? I want you to change your mind about the word repentance. It's not a bad word. It's a good word. Here's the second thing I want you to change your mind about. I want you to change your mind about yourself. You see, the reason many of us don't like to be corrected is because it makes us feel like a bad person. I must be a bad person if I'm having to be corrected. In other words, it's not my behavior; it's me as a person.
Acts 3:19 says, Change your mind, repent, and be converted. That's when God does the work then in our lives, change comes, "that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord". Times of refreshing come only after we change our mind. Now, I'm going to say something to you that sometimes, I don't always live by this, okay. But many times I do, and Debbie would vouch for this. I love to repent because I've seen the fruit. I'd love to change my mind about something because I've found out I'm wrong most of the time. When Debbie and I have an argument... Excuse me, 'cause we don't do that. We're Christians. When we have a discussion, I can say, I'm sorry. And she can say, I'm sorry, but she knows that's not enough for me. I want to know her perspective. I want to know, what were you trying to tell me that I reacted to incorrectly? What were you trying to say? Because that will help me, because if I don't know your perspective, then I'll make up what your perspective was in my mind, and I'll keep replaying it. So I need your perspective so I can change my mind about the conversation that we just had. Are y'all following me?
I know people that the last thing they want is to hear your perspective, because again, it might mean that they're wrong. If that's you, if you have a problem receiving correction, get with a Spirit-filled counselor, because it will probably go back to some things in your childhood or in a broken relationship, and now you're viewing every correction through that incorrect correction that you received. See, we've got to come to a place that we change our mind. This is what Jesus was coming to say. I need to change your mind about the way you see yourself. So repentance is a good word for believers. One of the best things that ever happened to me, about three or four years into my Christian walk, I was still struggling with a lot of the things that I had struggled with before I got saved. You kind of have this thing that once I get saved, I'm not going to struggle any more, but I was still struggling. And so I felt like a hypocrite.
Now, I know all of you can relate. You might not want to say, "Yes, I can relate". You might want to sit there and be a hypocrite right now, but you can relate. And I felt like a hypocrite. I felt like a fake, a fraud, a phony. All these people love God, but, you know, they don't know I'm still dealing with stuff I shouldn't be dealing with. And so I told the Lord one day, I said, I feel like two people. I feel like the person... Remember, too, that after I got saved, I was preaching very quickly. So I feel like the person on the stage preaching to others and yet then going out and still having the thoughts and the struggles that I shouldn't still have. So I feel like a fraud. I feel like two people. And so the Lord said to me, "Would you like for me to fix that"? Just like that. And I said, "Yeah, I would". And so he said, "Okay, I want you to write down everything you've ever done wrong, evil, or disgusting that no one knows about. I want you to write it down on a piece of paper".
And so I did. I guarded the piece of paper, and I didn't put my name on it. And I already had a plan worked out if someone found it. I'd say, "Yeah, this guy gave that to me to pray about, and so". But I wrote down all these things that I thought I wouldn't want anyone to know I ever did that, but I did. And then I actually thought that the Lord was going to say, "Now burn it and you'll be free". Just get you one of those big butane lighters and just burn it, and you will never have another problem again. But he didn't. He said to me, this is when I was at Shady Grove Church with Pastor Olen Griffing, that is our Grand Prairie campus now. He said to me, "I want you to read everything on that piece of paper to Pastor Olen". And I shared with him for several days why that was a bad idea. But finally I decided I'm going to, so I said to him one day we were alone, I said, "I need to tell some things about me".
And I told him, I went through the entire list. I said, I've done this, I've thought this. I've said this. I've lied about this. I've covered this up. Here are things about me nobody knows. I got to the end of the list, and I said, "That's it". He said, "Is there anything else"? I said, "No". I'll never forget his response. He said, "Robert, I've done everything on that list". And he said, "And I'll bet you, 90% of our church has, too. But Satan has you convinced that you're worse than everybody else? You need to change the way you think about yourself. You need to forgive yourself". I felt free. I felt like, somebody knows. The next day I was feeling so good, and the Lord said to me, "You feel better"? I said, "I do". He said, "Okay. I want you to read that list of Debbie now". I said, "You have the worst ideas in human history".
Took me a few days to try to talk him out of it. He didn't budge. I got with Debbie. I said, "I need to tell you". I remember telling her, I remember saying, "I don't know if you're going to want to stay married to me, but this is the man you married". And I went through the whole list. When I got to the end, she said, "Robert. I knew you were bad when I married you". Then she said, "I didn't know you were that bad, but I knew you were bad". She said, "You know what I admire about you the most"? I said, "No". She said, "You're the most honest person I've ever met about his failures. I know I can trust you because you'll be honest with me". Repentance is being honest with yourself, letting someone else give you a perspective that you might not have, and then once you get that perspective, you could change your mind and God can change you.
So, last point. I want you to change your mind about Jesus. I want you to start seeing Jesus maybe a little differently. Do you know the number one complaint against Jesus? Now, some would say that it was blasphemy, but it really wasn't. That was the charge that they brought him on, but not the number one complaint, the one they listed the most. Luke 15:1, "Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, 'This Man receives sinners and eats with them.'" What a charge. He eats with sinners. By the way, all of you have eaten with sinners. I don't care who you eaten with, you eaten with sinners. Luke 7:34, "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'" He's called a friend of sinners. You ever wondered why sinners liked to hang out with Jesus?
Mark 2:15, "it happened as he was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, 'How is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?' When Jesus heard it, He said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.'" Now, remember what the word repentance means, because we can read that and say, "He called the sinners to change the way they were living." or we could read it according to the definition and say, "He called the sinners to change their minds about what they thought about God".
I think Jesus showed up, and I think the reason he ate with the sinners was to say to them, "You need to know that the Father and I love you, that the Father and I don't judge you. You're already judged". We read that last week. He didn't come to condemn us, to judge us. We were already judged. He came to forgive us. Listen to these three statements that I wrote: God is not mad at you. God is not disappointed in you. And God is not surprised by you. He's not mad at you, he's not disappointed in you, and he's not surprised by you. Nothing you could ever do could surprise God. Do you want to know why? Because he's all-knowing. You have never committed a sin, nor ever will, that will be outside of the foreknowledge of God. The gospel, the love of Christ, does not have exclusions. It does not say, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever, except Robert Morris between 1975 and 1979, can be forgiven because I really didn't know he was going to be that bad in high school".
Repentance is not a bad word. It is actually a good word. It just means you change your mind. It means that you understand. And I want you not only to change your mind about yourself. I want you to change your mind about how much Jesus loves you, and that Jesus shows up, and the first word he preaches is, "Change your mind because heaven is here". Change your mind about how you're going to have a relationship with God. I told you a moment ago about how God told me to share with Pastor Olen, how he told me to share with Debbie, and their wonderful, gracious responses to me. That, I can't tell you what that did. I can't even tell you. You know, we have Kairos and Freedom Ministry, and we have Christian Counselors, licensed professional Christian counselors. We refer to many LPCs. We believe in help. We believe in emotional health. We believe.
And so many times... Listen to this verse, "Confess your faults to one another that you may be healed". The more you live in the darkness, the more the enemy works. So, I told you how they responded, and it just set me free. And a few days after talking to Pastor Olen and talking with Debbie, I woke up one morning happy. I just woke up with like this huge smile on my face, and I was so happy. I was just so happy, and the Lord said to me, "Why are you so happy"? Now, let me say something. Most of you know this, but if you're new to Gateway and I say, "The Lord said," I'm not talking about an audible voice. I'm talking about an impression that we get in our spirit that aligns with the Word of God, you know. And all of us have had impressions like that from the Holy Spirit.
And so, anyway, I just felt like the Lord said to me, "Why are you so happy"? And I talk to God like I talk to you, and he's fine with it, you know. And so I just said to him, "Well Lord, don't you get it? I mean, don't you get it"? I said, "There are two people that know everything bad that I've ever done, and they still love me". And the Lord said to me, "Just two"? And I didn't get it. I didn't hear what he was saying. I said, "Yes, two people know everything bad that I've ever done, and they still love me". And he said to me, "Just two"? And that's when I got it.
And then he said to me, "Robert, I know everything that was on the piece of paper and everything you forgot to put on the piece of paper, and I know everything that will be on the piece of paper, and not only do I love you, I died for you. I gave my life so you could be forgiven and have an eternal and abundant life on this earth. I love you, son. I know it all and I love you". Repentance is not a bad word. It is an ongoing, it's not a one-time event for Christians. That's how you get into the kingdom. It's the start, but it is an ongoing lifestyle that we continue to change our minds and allow God then to change our hearts.
I want you to bow your heads and close your eyes, and I want you to just take a moment. We do this every week. Maybe this your first time here. What we do is we just take a moment and say, "Holy Spirit, what are you saying to me through this message"? So you just take a moment and just ask the Lord because he wants to personalize, every time you come to church, he wants to personalize the sermon, the teaching to each of us.
So just ask him, "Lord, what are you saying to me through this message"? And he might answer you right now. He might start his answer and then he might add to it Monday in your quiet time or Tuesday or Wednesday or driving down the road. Or you might say, "You know, I'm going to listen to that message again during the week, because there was something that he said that I just remember it just so impacted me. I don't remember what it was right now, so I'm gonna listen to it again". I don't know, but just let the Lord help us understand that repentance is good news. Changing our minds not just about some behavior that we might want to work on or give to God, but also changing our minds about the way God feels about us and about how others can help us to change our minds.
So Lord, I want to tell you, thank you for the word repentance. I want to thank you, Lord, that you gave us a mind that we can literally change the way we think. We can renew our minds. We can set our minds on things above, and that, Lord, when we change our minds, that conversion, change comes and times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord. So thank you, Jesus. In your name we pray, amen.