I shower daily. Most days twice. And although I may have occasionally missed a day now and then, I’ve balanced it out by some days even showering thrice.
Though it’s never been mentioned, people around me probably appreciate my effort, since without daily showers the accumulated sweat and grime tends to make me more than a bit stinky. And it’s not enough to just stand under the water and let it run over me. I have to use deodorant soap vigorously applied with one of those poofy-netty-fluffy-scrubby things they’ve been selling for the past decade to wash away the unwanted build-up, plus a generous working of shampoo into the hair to keep it clean and free from excess oil as well. Greasy hair was completely over by the 60s.
If you were to peer at me in the shower — but PLEASE don’t — you’d often find me on my knees. You see, it’s not only my body that needs cleansing. But much more importantly, my spirit.
Jesus did his work on the cross and became the atoning sacrifice for ALL our sins — past, present, and future — but as Christians we are instructed to confess our sins and repent, to turn away from all wickedness and ungodliness.
Some Christians believe that forgiveness is a “one-shot” deal and once we utter the sinners prayer that all wrongs are eternally obliterated. (Quick side-note: we’ll discuss that whole sinner’s prayer thing another time.) And it’s certainly true that God has forgiven us and separated us from our sins forevermore, but let’s consider the words of Jesus.
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11:1-4 ESV)
Notice that Jesus said, “When you pray…”, and according to scripture we know Jesus prayed often. Every day and every night. Likely without ceasing. And he taught us to ask to be forgiven of our sins when we pray. Daily. Just as important as asking for our daily bread.
We are instructed throughout the Bible to repent of our sins. Many think that to repent means to feel remorse and sorrow for the things we have done, and by so limiting their definition they fall upon “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1 ESV) and take the stance that to have sadness about past sin is to allow the enemy to place us in bondage from our past.
However, while sadness for transgressions is indeed part of the meaning of the English word remorse, it’s not the best translation of the original Greek word used many times in the New Testament. In fact, the word choice was so erroneous that Merriam-Webster includes the original Greek word “metanoia” that was used and is defined as “a transformative change of heart; especially a spiritual conversion”.
We can be sorry for the things we’ve done for many reasons, and many of those reasons can even be selfish. For example, if I had stolen something I could simply be sorry that I got caught. Entirely selfish. I could also be sorry that I took something that didn’t belong to me. Semi-selfish, because it tarnishes my self-image. Or I could be sorry because the person I took it from no longer has it and that to have stolen it was morally wrong.
While the last reason is better than the first two, it overlooks that I grieved God. And THAT is where my heart should be positioned. While sin hurts both others and myself, the most important element is to realize that it hurts God. For that I should indeed feel sorrow, but more importantly repentance means that I have undergone a change of heart and that sin now repulses me and must be turned away from, and I have within my spirit a genuine desire to humble myself before God and serve him according to His will.
Perhaps the most wonderful and worshipful thing we can do is to simply with all our heart, soul, and strength ask God, “What do You want me to do?”
This was the question asked by Paul after his conversion from Saul in Acts 9:6. The New King James says, “So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’”
This is the heart of repentance — Lord, what do you want me to do? This is the teachable heart, the servant’s heart, the heart being changed from what it once was into what it will become. A heart that is reborn, the heart of a new creature being renewed, being perfected. Yet only reaching perfection when Jesus returns.
David was described as a man after God’s own heart. David cried out to God,
Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
Since we realize all sin is against God, should we therefore not also like David cry out to God to wash us and cleanse us from our sin?
And that scrubbing needs to be done daily with the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who died that we may be made spotless.
To twist the phrase from the old deodorant soap commercial, “Aren’t you glad you have Jesus? Don’t you wish everybody did?”