Key Thought for this session:
“Repentance is changing your core assumptions.”
In Genesis Chapter One, we read of a loving and good God who created a gloriously beautiful and rich world and gave it to our first parents. No sin. No sorrow. No death. No disappointments. And perfect fellowship with God. God had provided all they needed and could want.
In Genesis Chapter Two, we read about God assigning roles to the man and the woman. These roles were not a burden. They were exciting and fulfilling. The picture we have of the way things were made to work is one where God provides everything that is good and good for us. Our job was NOT to provide these things, or to decide what was good. Our job was just to enjoy the goodness God provided for us.
In Genesis Chapter Three, we read that the crafty serpent Satan proposed to Eve that she take on God’s job of deciding what was good and what was not. Apparently, Eve mistakenly thought that she was missing out on something by not being able to decide for herself what was good and just, and what was not, so she accepted Satan’s proposition. When she did, two very significant things happened. One was that she instantly died spiritually; fellowship with God was broken. Along with that came a complete inability to see that reality and true value existed mostly in the spiritual eternal world; and that entire part of existence was cut off from her. Consequently, all her sense of reality and truth was now confined to experiencing the material world. The satisfaction of her soul would now be met by only physical things.
Secondly, she took on the role and responsibility of deciding what was fair. Justice belongs to God and turns out to be an impossibly large and complex task; one that she was ill-equipped to adequately address. It is not possible to always provide what is fair to everyone involved, especially if you do not have the unlimited resources of the eternal spiritual world to draw upon. Consequently, injustice and oppression are now unavoidable outcomes in the human experience.
When we look at this story recounted for us in Genesis chapters one through three, can we say that although people were created to live in a Column B Spiritual world where God, in his wisdom and goodness with infinite resources, lovingly provided all that we need and could possibly desire? Can we say that the temptation Eve was offered took her into a Column A Carnal worldview? This is a perspective where everything is based on people’s limited ability to provide for their own needs drawing only on the limited resources of the physical world. This is a world where people make decisions about the distribution of those resources based only on the limited knowledge they gain from their own observations of the physical world alone.
In other words, can we say that we inherit from Adam and Eve a path that confines us to the blindness and futility of a Column A existence; even though God had originally provided people with a life of fulfillment and only goodness, where God made all the decisions about what was good and provided for them from his infinite eternal resources?
If all this is so, then wouldn’t we expect an emphasis of Christ, who came to save the world from the futility of a Column A existence, to be one of getting us to see life instead from a Column B Spiritual identity where God provides everything we need, which now also includes providing us with the forgiveness and righteousness that He has earned for us?
We’ve spent most of this course examining our core assumptions. These core assumptions determine what we actually perceive when we read Scripture. They color how we make sense of the truths we read in Scripture. When you read things in Scripture that don’t make sense to you, or maybe when you are brutally honest with yourself and you say something like, “Yes, I do understand what that is saying, but I don’t think I want to do that,”—when those times come, is it possible that your core assumptions do not match those that Jesus wants you to have? When we have the core assumptions from our fallen human nature, we will continually misinterpret and misconstrue Scripture because we are internally compelled to make all of what we see, including Scripture, match our core assumptions about reality, truth, trust, soul satisfaction and justification. In other words, we naturally prefer that God conform to our core assumptions, rather than be transformed by the renewing of our mind to embrace God’s core assumptions.
This is why Jesus and the apostles talked constantly about changing the way we think about things. The Greek word for changing the way you think, which essentially can be interpreted to mean “change your core assumptions,” is the word “metanoia” and it occurs 56 times in the New Testament! It is often cited as a precondition for salvation! When scholars first tried to translate the Greek New Testament into English, they struggled to translate this word. They tried to make use of a French word that had worked its way into the English language. The word for “to think” in French is “pense.” The French word for re-think, or change your thinking, is “repense.” Its English form in the year 1611 A.D., when the King James Bible was first published, was the English word “repent.” So, the Greek word “metanoia,” which means “change the way you think” was translated in the KJV as the English word repent. Unfortunately, the meaning of the word repent has drifted quite a bit in the last 400 years, so when you see the word “repent” in your English Bible, you may not see it as God calling you to change your core assumptions; but in fact, that is exactly what it means in the original Greek. Notice the emphasis is not on behavior modification. It is assumed that if you get your core assumptions correct, your thinking will be correct and your feelings and actions will follow, eventually. But the focus and judgments of God are not on what you are doing, but on the way you are thinking! That is the meaning behind the Greek word metanoia, the call to repentance, as it is used by Christ and the apostles in the Scriptures.
If we want to be equipped to live this new life Christ has provided for us, then we will need to see reality as it truly is. We will need to see reality from a Column B Spiritual way of thinking, where God provides all we need from His infinite spiritual resources. This new perspective requires us to reject the Column A Carnal way of thinking that resulted from Eve’s temptation and the futility of all that followed, and replace it with a Column B Spiritual perspective, which is the mind of Christ. To attempt to live the new life Christ’s blood has provided for us from a Column A view of reality just doesn’t work. It is like trying to mix oil and water. They don’t mix.
One way to look at the Column A Carnal identity is to see it as Adam and Eve saw it: specifically, they chose to be their own God and make for themselves the decisions that only God could properly make. So, we could also subtitle Column A as “I get to be God” and subtitle Column B as “God is there and He has spoken; He has chosen gladly to give us His kingdom.”
When we realize that God’s emphasis is on our way of thinking more than our actions, a question often comes up. What should Christians do with the Law written by Moses in the Old Testament that some people think focuses on how to act outwardly? Are we to ignore the Law? Or as Paul the Apostle asked, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?”
The answer is an emphatic “no!” The Law of God as revealed to us in His Word is a statement of the character and judgments of God. It’s a reflection of exactly who He is. God never changes. The God of Moses IS Christ. However, if we approach the Law of God with a Column A Carnal mind, then we will see it as a set of requirements by which we are to gain the approval of God. The Column A mind assumes that God will approve us more if we work hard to obey His commands. That very mindset is our condemnation.
The Column A perspective sees the Law of God as an impossible burden that kills us, and so it is ... if one thinks it can be a path to the righteousness that God requires.
The Column B perspective sees that Christ has already completely secured and provided for our approval from God. God does not approve us based on what we do, but based on what Christ has done. Christ has fulfilled the Law of God for us. So, the Law is good and Christ has completely obeyed it for us. What do we do then with the Law? If it is of no use to us as a means of gaining God’s approval, then of what use is it? It is still and always will be a statement of the character of Christ. It provides a mirror for us to see how far we are from his image.
But we are now free to embrace the Law as the Character and image of our Lord, without fearing condemnation from God when we fall short of its perfect standards. Of course we will fall short. And when we do, we are reminded of who Christ is and what He has done for us. So, in this way, the Law continually points us to the saving work of Christ’s life and sacrifice for us. In these ways, we see the Law as good. We love the Law. It is instructional, even though we dare not attempt to use it as a means to gain God’s favor or approval.
The Law of Moses is God’s compassionate, loving gift to show us a picture of Christ’s character and holiness, and to make us realize our need for the wisdom He has for us.