(This blog will be offline for a couple of weeks while I travel. Please enjoy these posts from the archives. Feel free to comment or ask questions. I will be able to respond when I return.)
So, what about repentance? If you ask some people, everyone has to repent all the time. Others say that repentance is a one-time act, a decision to trust Christ instead of self. Lewis suggests something a little different:
“Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.” (p. 59)
He goes on to say that this is not something we can do ourselves, that only Christ can do this in us. What he has identified is the flesh. This is the energy or will that is set against the spirit in us. The flesh is the system which we have garnered from what we have been taught and what we have experienced and what we have reasoned. This is the old way and we are people of the new way.
The flesh isn’t really the self. Under the domain of the flesh, the self is pushed back so far that it is almost forgotten and the system is in charge. The self does not really have to die, that wouldn’t make sense. What dies is the flesh and the old man, the system and false life we built apart from Christ. When we learn the truth, that life is found only in Jesus and this existence in which we have been living is a deception, and we reject the deception, we repent. We reject the old in favor of the new, the false in favor of the true, our way in favor of His way.
And then we die. The old man dies and that false life is finally revealed as dead. From that point on, we live in a realm of repentance, putting to death the things of the flesh and embracing the things of the spirit. And Jesus lives in us accomplishing even this.
These are deep mysteries and it is easy to become confused. Yet, this experience of dying to the old and rising again with Christ in the new is something that many of us understand. Once we were blind and now we can see.
All because of Jesus.