I Am Sorry. I Am Just Not Going to Change…
For it is impossible, in the case of those who… have shared in the Holy Spirit, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God… Hebrews 6:4-6
I think most of us can identify with saying sorry for something only to do that same thing again the next day. We swear before God and family that we will never do it again. I’ll never yell again… I’ll never overeat again… I’ll never look at pornography again… I’ll never say those hurtful words again… Then, as sure as the sun rises, we are back at it again, just a few days later.
We often say I’m sorry impulsively without changing our behavior at all. In this context, sorry, means that I am acknowledging a painful behavior and that I feel bad about it, but I am not actually changing. I may have good intentions but if that is not followed by action, I am not actually repenting.
Everyone sees through this of course. If I apologize daily to my family for being harsh with them but I continue the same behavior daily, they will find my apologies a bit insincere. They will find it hard to forgive when I apologize for the hundredth time.
This, I think is the position many of us find ourselves in before God. We have asked forgiveness repeatedly, only to return to our destructive behavior. We then read passages like the one above and are terrified. What if my sin means I’ve fallen away from God forever?
We should take comfort that the above passage does not mean that there is a finite number of times we can screw up after which God casts us away. God forgives us when we repent, no matter how many times we fail. We should however, also recognize that repenting means actually changing behavior. Saying I’m sorry, with no change in behavior, is not actually repentance. It is just a hollow recognition of bad behavior.
If I have a behavior that is causing destruction in my family or my relationship with God, I need to recognize that behavior, ask forgiveness, and then do whatever it takes to stop the behavior and turn to God. I may need help from others. I may have to give up my internet access. I may have to radically change my behavior. This may be uncomfortable, but this is repentance.