Sunday, April 1, 2012

3 Degrees from a Noose: Remorse to Repentance (Part I)

A little over a week ago I tag-teamed a sermon with a great friend and preacher Luke Norsworthy.  Luke is the Lead Pastor of Venture Community, a dynamic church plant in Denton, TX.  Check them out!! He was preaching a Lenten series using Matthew as his text. As a part of the series he wanted to compare Matthew's narrative of two better known Jesus disciples, the yin and yang of the elect 12, Peter and Judas.  Luke invited me to step into the series and co-preach this particular passage. What follows comes from that sermon.

If you have studied the gospels at all you will recognized the two names Peter and Judas and likely you will have very different reactions to each of them.  You will tend to picture Peter as a hero of the faith, as a pillar of early Christianity, as a model and example of a legit Christ-follower.  Judas, on the other hand...let's just say you are not going to name your child after him.  Both characters ended in very different places. Peter ended, according to Christian tradition, as a martyr for Christ.  Judas? His intestines exploded all over the ground when he hanged himself in shame. Although both apostles wound up at different ends of the spectrum there was a moment when they were in the exact same place.

Jesus chose both Peter and Judas to follow him.  Both accepted.  Jesus predicted that both of them would deny/betray him.  Both swore they would never do such a thing. Both did deny/betray him.  Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, turning him over to the Jewish authorities for a mere 30 pieces of silver. Peter denied Jesus three times in Christ's most desperate hour. Both failed miserably, and HERE IS WHERE WE NEED TO REALLY FOCUS - both were remorseful and sorrowful over their sin and failure.

When Peter realized what he had done the text says, "...he [Peter] went outside and wept bitterly." And when Judas realized that the Sanhedrin actually delivered a guilty verdict against Jesus (It's my opinion Judas did not think Jesus would be convicted. He knew Jesus was innocent and figured there was not enough evidence to convict him) the text reads, "He [Judas] was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 'I have sinned,' he said, 'for I have betrayed innocent blood.'”

Peter and Judas both had the proper response when coming to grips with their sin: remorse and sorrow and yet they ended up in vastly different places.  Peter goes on to be a great leader in the Church while Judas commits suicide. They ended up in different places because Peter demonstrated Godly Sorrow while Judas demonstrated Worldly Sorrow.  Paul defines Godly Sorrow and Worldly Sorrow in II Corinthians 7:10, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."

In other words, God desires for sorrow to lead you to repentance.  Sorrow is not repentance.  Sorrow is brokenness and remorse over the destruction you have caused.  Repentance is a change in direction, a 180 degree turn. It is the choice to realign yourself with the way of Christ. If your sorrow leads you toward repentance, then repentance will lead you back to salvation and regret-free living.  On the other hand, Satan desires for your sorrow to feed your guilt and grow your shame until you are held captive by your brokenness, ending in despair... or as Judas, in death.  When sorrow leads you in that direction it is Worldly Sorrow.  NT Wright describes it this way, " -“The first goes down the hill of anger, recrimination, self-hatred and ultimately self-destruction, the way that leads to death. The second goes down the route Peter took, of tears, shame & a way back to life.”

I'm going to venture to say that all of us have felt sorrow and/or remorse over our sin. This is the correct first step, but what will you do with it?  Will you let your sorrow lead you to repentance or will you let it shackle you to shame?  Clearly, we want the way of Godly Sorrow, one that leads to repentance. The struggle lies in figuring out how to move from remorse/sorrow to repentance.  I believe the key to Godly sorrow, the bridge from remorse to repentance is the ability to accept God's grace.

In my next post I'll share three things from my personal experience that are necessary when accepting God's grace.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.