Repentance turns our life upside down and makes changes in the premises we live.
The curtain raiser to God’s plan of salvation for human kind starts with the ‘voice of one crying out in the wilderness’- the Proclamation of John the Baptist. When the Pharisees and Sadducees who were the ‘doers’ of the Law approached John for getting baptized, he gives a very thought provoking reprimand to them in Matthew3:8 “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” Repentance takes the central place in the script of New Testament. Without repentance, there is no salvation. ‘Confess your sins, repent and believe in the Kingdom of God’- is the message Jesus used to drive into our hearts time and again in His ministries through the Gospels.
The Holy Spirit prompts through this word of God that ‘Evidence of repentance is Good Fruit’. The fruit implied by John the Baptist is explained vividly in the letter of St Paul to the Galatians- Gal 5:22-25 “…the fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Generosity, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
Confession and Intercession
Repentance consists of two ingredients-Confession and Intercession. To get completely cleansed and healed for being ready to be the partakers of the Kingdom of God, these two aspects in repentance are mandatory. Mere confession neither amount to repentance nor is the evidence of repentance. What God wants is a ‘repentant’ heart and not a mere ‘confessional’ heart.
God wants our acts to vouch for our repentance. Or in other words, our confession only when edified with our acts witnessing the Holy Spirit would tantamount to true repentance. James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed.” If we confess and intercede, then we will be healed.
Traits of True repentance
The post-confessional life should be an earnest endeavour to live in the Spirit and NOT in the flesh. If we have to follow the Spirit, we have to manifest the Fruits of the Spirit as narrated in Gal 5:22-23. This implies that a man who has true repentance would do the following:-
(a) Confess the sins
(b) (i) Be Peaceful – with others & with oneself without crucifying time and again the inner self with remorse even after confession. (ii) Be Joyful (iii) Be Patient – while dealing with others and with oneself. (iv) Be Kind – to others and with oneself-not being a severe critic of oneself leading to self-effacing traits leading to low self esteem and diffident personality. (v) Be Generous – towards others, exemplifying the adage-‘if you are really big, show that you are big at heart’. (vi) Be Faithful – to God and your assigned role on this earth so as to give your best in the race, running and to win the victory prize of being put right with God as said in Phil3:14, 2Timothy4:7-8. (vii) Be Gentle – to others. (viii) Having Self-control – to crucify the alluring of flesh. (ix) Having Love – for others and for oneself.
To find an epitome of all these fruits being manifested in a human form other than Jesus Christ, one could look towards Mother Mary. Intercession is an aspect of not only praying for others, but also intervening in the lives of others with the fruits of the Holy Spirit so as to be of help to them. An example of this kind of intercession is the visit of Mother Mary to Elizabeth to be of help to her during the advanced days of the latter’s confinement. We just need to imitate her and we would be manifesting the fruits of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives. And that is why Jesus says at the beginning of His ministry in Galilee, in Mark 1:15 “Repent and Believe in the Gospel”.
If your repentance is true, you would bear good fruit. A true repentance with the two key ingredients mentioned above, leads to healing of wounds. Repentance in true sense is cleansing of one’s own heart. Only the one who is inflicted with wounds cause wounds to others, but a person who is healed won’t cause harm unto others. So, absolute absolution of the repentant sinner manifests as fruits of the Spirit. The fruits are further elaborated by Jesus Christ in Luke 6:27-42, as to how a repentant person should behave.
Expectations of Jesus Christ, Our Lord
If a repentant person does not deliver good fruits, he/she would end up as the fig tree in Mark 11:12-14. Don’t wait like the fig tree and pretend as to not to bear fruits since it is not the season of figs. Don’t wait for the entire world and society to change, for you to change-because, it is the fruits of the Spirit that Jesus looks in your repentance when He comes looking for the lost sheep! Don’t say at that time “I could not change as the society around me didn’t allow me to”.
Remember, Jesus has said that we have to witness Him to a hurting world. We have a duty to pray for the world so that the world also changes-the power of intercession! You change the world through what you are- Matt 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven”.
Prayer: “Lord Jesus, help me to do a good confession. Abba Father, help me to manifest the Fruits of Your Spirit through my behavior as a sign of my repentance. Mother Mary, pray for me to have true repentance. Amen.”
– – – written by G. Sanal, Tughlakabad, Newdelhi