Changing Their Minds

Every week at Providence we are reminded of the truth of the gospel. This past Sunday we saw people enter the baptism waters to make a public profession. When being baptize, there are two main declarations being made: a testimony of what Jesus Christ did for us, and a proclamation of the decision to repent from sin and place their faith in Christ. I love this because it points to an important truth about our salvation: it is Jesus and Him alone that has done the saving work. We didn’t do it! We didn’t (and can’t) earn it! It is only through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we can be forgiven of sin and reconciled back to a right relationship with God. He is the only one capable of accomplishing this work as well as being the only one who has the power to do it. But even though Jesus is the one who does the work, we still bear some responsibility in our salvation. The Bible tells us that we must respond to what Christ has done by repenting and believing.

Of these two actions, it is easiest for both us and our kids to understand what it means to believe. We have heard the good news of Jesus and what He has done, we have heard His claim that He is the only way to the Father, and therefore we understand what it means to believe He is who He says He is, He has done what He says He did, and that He will do what He promises. It isn’t easy to put our faith in trust in Him, but it is an easier concept to understand. Repentance is often harder to grasp.

Repentance is turning away from sin and back to God. It is understanding our sin and its consequences, grieving that sin, asking Jesus for forgiveness, and then placing Him as the Lord of our life. We put to death our life that is dominated and directed by sinful desire and place ourselves under the commands and desires of God. Repentance is change. We can’t just look at the gospel and agree with it, our response to it must be one of change. Author Rosaria Butterfield states that “true repentance involves a change of mind, a change of affections, and a change in your life.”

What does it mean for someone to have a change of mind? Psalm 51 provides a picture of what is required: David writes, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” When Nathan rebukes King David for his affair with Bathsheba and calls him to repentance, this is the beginning of his response. His first words show a change of mind. He is confronted with the egregiousness of his sin, and he grieves over it. He recognizes that what he has done is not good and is evil in the eyes of the Lord. He doesn’t make excuses for his sin but shows that he now sees it for exactly what it is. This leads to his confession: “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (v.4).

As we lovingly disciple our children toward an initial and ongoing response to the gospel, we need to help them understand that what is required is more than just belief. Our response of repentance, to turn away from the very thing that has created enmity between us and God, is vital. This all starts with a change of mind. We need to help them see their sin for what it is, evil against God rather than just a mistake or something inconsequential. Without a change of mind, there will never be a change of heart.

Everyday for our kids (and us!) is a battle against sin. Rather than only getting them to stop a wrong action, we want to lead them toward the transformation of their minds toward their sin for the goal of true repentance.