“I’m going to Change my Heart and Obey now”
I have often marveled at how God teaches me about myself and my relationship with him through my son. The day after Max was born I lay in my hospital bed staring at his tiny frame in the bassinet beside me and I felt like I caught a glimpse of how Jesus was able to die for me. I hardly knew this little person yet, but I knew I would die for him that instant if necessary. Then when he was about three years old my husband, Shane, was trying to vacuum our living room and Max insisted on “helping”. He could barely hold the vacuum cleaner by himself, but as he struggled away I realized that just as we did not need Max’s help to vacuum (in fact it kind of slowed the cleaning process down) but we wanted him to help so that he could learn, in a similar way God allows us to “help” him with his kingdom work and that even though he does not need us, and we may often be slowing things down, he wants us to help because we are his children and it’s what he has asked us to do.
More recently Max has been exercising his strong will and “sharing” his opinions more often which has resulted in frequent sessions of loving discipline. I’ve noticed several times though where he has said to me, “Okay, I’m going to change my heart and obey now.” I always am quick to remind him that we are unable to change our own hearts and that we must ask Jesus to change them for us and to help us obey. My post tonight is about this principle.
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.
(Matthew 27:3-5 ESV, emphasis added)
Regret vs. Repentance
What happened to Judas is a common occurrence, not in the particular sin that he committed or the extreme results of it, but the feelings he experienced after. The gospel of Matthew says that when Judas realized the consequences of his sin (that Jesus was condemned to die) that he “changed his mind”, and the Greek word for this (metamelomai) means “regret or remorse”. Many times people will sin and then feel regret or remorse afterwards because of the consequences that their sin brings upon them. In Judas’ case it wasn’t even that he was truly sorry for what he had done to Jesus, he just couldn’t stand the heavy burden of guilt that he felt because he knew Jesus was innocent. He hated the way his sin made him feel, not the results of it for Jesus.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
(2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV)
Peter and Judas both Betrayed Him
If we compare Peter’s betrayal of Jesus (by denying him three times) with Judas’ betrayal we can see a perfect example of what 2 Corinthians 7:10 is talking about. Peter experienced godly grief, as soon as the rooster crowed he “wept bitterly” over his sin, and when Mary Magdalene came to the disciples with the news that the tomb was empty Peter ran to see it, and when Jesus appeared to the disciples after he resurrected when they were out fishing Peter “threw himself into the sea” (John 2:7b) to swim as fast as he could to get to Jesus. Peter experienced godly grief which produced repentance in him that lead to his salvation. He went on to be filled with the Holy Spirit and become a pillar upon which the church was built. Peter had “salvation without regret” which means, he was no longer the same, just read about Peter in Acts or his writings in 1 & 2 Peter to see what a different man he was.
Judas though only experienced worldly grief over his sins. Instead of repenting and turning to God he tried to “change his mind”, he tried to fix things on his own. When that didn’t work he went out and committed suicide; “worldly grief produces death“. The word “death” in this verse ultimately means “divine judgment” and hell as opposed to just physical death because even the godly obviously will physically die, but in Judas’ case his worldly grief caused both physical and spiritual death.
Repentance is a Gift
If someone feels bad, or even wretched, when they sin it isn’t evidence of being saved. Worldly grief can make you feel like you hate your sin. Evidence of salvation, rather is shown through repentance; a sorrow over sin that results in a turning away from it, and this act of repentance is only possible with God’s help.
God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,
(2 Timothy 2:25b ESV)
We cannot “change our minds” about sin, only God can change our minds when we surrender our lives to him through faith and then he puts the mind of Christ in us.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
(Philippians 2:5 ESV)
And here is what happened to the disciples minds when Jesus spoke to them after his resurrection,
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
(Luke 24:45-49 ESV emphasis added)
Let Jesus Change your Mind
So, in closing, instead of trying to “change your mind” about your sin and trying to do what’s right and not sin with your own power and determination, surrender in faith and let Jesus change your mind. With a changed mind in Christ you will understand the gospel and be able to live for him by his power.
And if, as a Christian, you do sin take refuge in 1 John 2:1 that says you “have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” and your godly grief over it should always lead you to quick repentance which is a fruit of salvation.
Preparing the Way,