In 2 Corinthians 7, the word of God speaks of a Godly repentance, this repentance leads to salvation and will bring a transformation in the hearts of men. Without transformation there is no conversion, and sadly without conversion there is no discipleship. Discipleship is the commission that Jesus gave His church. We were to reproduce and expand the kingdom becoming like Him in His example. We were to be transformed in our thoughts, our speech and our deeds becoming a reproduction of Christ, being His representation in the earth. But this all begins with repentance and without it there is no authentic reproduction but instead an apostate, weak and powerless people blinded by pride conformed to this world systems.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful unto the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regrets, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Worldly sorrow only feels bad that our plans and desires are not acceptable to God; the regret is the sense of one’s personal loss of one’s own desires. Godly repentance on the other hand realizes ones plans and agendas cannot usurp God’s true holiness or will for one’s life. It recognizes that one’s belief system has been contrary to God’s and has a desire to change one’s behavior to become like Him. Worldly sorrow is prideful in that it is still about oneself, but Godly repentance comes through the spirit of humility and the focus it all about making things right with Jesus.
The Greek word repent- metaneo- means to turn from and to change one’s attitude, thoughts, and behaviors concerning God’s demands of right living. This is the way of true transformation. This is the only way to produce fruits of righteousness. Without transformation repentance, it is only lip service; it has no power to produce any change. Jesus said that people honor Him with their lips but their hearts are far from Him. Peter preaches in Acts 3:19 to repent and be converted that your sins would be forgiven and times of refreshing would come. The Greek word converted-esiprepho- means to change into another form or substance, state, product, to be transformed, to change from one form to another, to adapt to a new purpose. To see the kingdom advanced, there must be repentance and conversion of discipleship.
Transformation repentance will turn me away from sin behavior and back to God. It has a conviction of what one is doing is not acceptable to a holy God. It acknowledges its need for a savior to rescue one from themselves and the evil desires within. Peter got the revelation of what was in his heart after he denied Jesus three times and went out and wept bitterly. He was reminded of what Jesus told him about being sifted and after his conversion he was to strengthen his brothers. Peter preached his first message out of his own experience of repentance and transformation. He was a changed man after his lip service turned into a real heart change. His conversion brought many miracles and souls to Christ. True transformation has power attached to it!
Transformational repentance changes my behavior to become like Christ in that area being dealt with. In Matthew 3:1-8, John preached repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When repentance comes so does the kingdom. When the tax collector Zaccheus met Christ (Luke 19), he declares in front of all the people watching, that he would give half of his possessions to the poor and he would pay back all he cheated four times as much. Jesus says, “Today salvation has come to this house”. He received salvation because his repentance had fruit of righteousness, he had a change of heart and he acted on right behavior. Whose standards changed? Zaccheus changed his to be like Jesus. When Jesus came to him he saw just how undone he was. The kingdom showed up in person and he responded by repenting. He did not justify his life but instead changed it to please the Lord. He was not concerned at all about personal loss but saw the great gain of knowing Jesus.
Transformational repentance will cost you something. In Mark 8:34, Jesus says whoever wants to come after Me, must take up his cross and follow Me. True repentance should empower me to take up my cross and become like Jesus. If I truly desire to be like Him I allow the transformation to come by heart repentance and the grace of God will empower, strengthen and cause my will to conform to His will. Only the cross brings the death that brings resurrection power and transformation. True repentance will bring a conversion of the heart which empowers grace to work on one’s behalf. Grace empowers me to live holy. Grace covers me in my weaknesses, not in rebellion against God. The enemy loves lip service because there’s no power attached to it. No threat to his kingdom.
A German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis for his stand against Hitler called Christianity without the cross, “cheap grace”. He wrote cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without the cross and grace without Jesus Christ being living and incarnate.
Repentance and discipleship demanded of us are not our means of earning grace but are the necessary response to the cross and grace empowerment offered to us by our Lord. There is a season of refreshing of the body of Christ for those who are embracing the grace of the Lord by repentance and obedience to taking up their cross and following Him. Allowing the desire to be like Him overtake all the others that demand our attention. The greatest ambition one can have is to be like Him. Being like Him requires a lifestyle of repentance and transformation which can be obtained through embracing grace and daily obedience to Him.