You Can Change 14: A life of repentance

These are my notes and some reflections on Tim Chester’s book: You Can Change

Repentance: turning from our sinful desires:

Sin is fundamentally an orientation towards myself.  Repentance is reorienting ourselves towards God.  Desiring God more than things.  It is putting God at the centre.

Our fundamental problem is that think of ourselves as being at the centre of our world, and God is one of the characters in our story.  But it’s not our story.  It’s God’s story!  “It’s so much better to be a minor character in God’s story than to try to write our own script.” (p116)

A God-centred perspective in both humbling and liberating:

It is humbling because it puts us in our place.  We are not the centre of the world – we are not even the centre of our own world.

It is liberating when we accept that this is God’s world not mine and I no longer have to continually try to be in control.

Continual repentance:

The entire Christian life is one of faith and repentance.  “Repentance is a life-long, continuous activity of turning back to God from God-dethroning desires.” (p117).  To walk in repentance is a life-long journey of mortification – putting sin to death – which is both Christ’s work for us and the Spirit’s work in us.

We are to mortify the roots of sin not just change behaviour.  A common scenario: A sinful desire gives rise to temptation and I think, “I’m not actually sinning”.  So I play with the thought, let my eyes linger, mind wander.  And so the desire grows, I feed it and then I complain that it is too strong.  But all the time I have been sinning – not in action but in my will.  I have not said “No” to sin – I have fed my sinful desires.

A note of warning: all this talk of motives and idols may lead one to endless introspection but that is not Tim’s intention at all.  “Introspection assumes I’m what matters in sanctification.  But it is God who changes us. “For one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ.”  (Robert Murray M’Cheyne)

Creating habits, building character:

We think the small concessions to sin do not matter all that much – but small concessions don’t satisfy temptation they fuel it!  And in time sin becomes a habit.  Most of our moral decisions are decisions in the moment.  What counts then is not our biblical reflection or moral reasoning its our Christian character.  It’s the habit of holiness of an undivided heart.

You cannot create Christian character overnight.  It’s the fruit of suffering and perseverance.  It’s the harvest of daily weeding out sin and planting grace.” (p122)

We repent by faith:


1) God is bigger than my sinful desires

We think of sin as inevitable but “Sin isn’t inevitable for a child of God.  We’ve been set free from its power.  I need to believe the truth that God is bigger than my sinful desires.  I need faith in God’s power if I’m to repent of my sin.” (p124)

2) God is better than my sinful desires:

~ by John on January 9, 2011.

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