40 Days of Repentance | Day 3: Teshuvah

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If you read my first post in this series, then you already know I started in haste. I was basically at my wits end after being asked to do this and ignoring The Father’s call multiple times. Out of options at that point, I said “okay, here I am.”

And I made a conscious decision to return to Him.

teshuvah

But I started writing so quickly that I forgot to define the very word that this blog series is based on: teshuvah. Commonly translated “repentance,” this term is derived from the Hebrew word shuv meaning “to turn back” or “to return.” Teshuvah is the word used to characterize the period of 40 days that we are in, beginning on the first of Elul and ending on The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur.

I thought it would be a good idea to take this post as an opportunity to define this term, since the word “repentance” has a completely different meaning for most people today.

Let’s start by looking at the English definition for the word repent:

“feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin”

This has a completely different connotation than the Hebrew notion of the word. The English definition emphasizes feeling, while the Hebrew definition implies action. We don’t just “feel sorry for what we did.” We do something about it.

True repentance requires action. And it first requires that we understand the definition of sin. Without a real understanding of the definition of sin, how can we then turn away from it?

Scripture defines sin as the transgression of YHWH’s Torah—His loving instructions to His people, commonly translated “law” in most English Bibles. According to 1 John 3:4:

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

Most pastors and Bible scholars will tell you that to sin means “to miss the mark.” I had heard that many times but never really knew what it meant and was always left with the question: what mark?

Scripture tell us what mark! If we break this verse down word by word, it says:

“Everyone practicing sin also lawlessness practices and sin is lawlessness.”

To live in sin is to be “without law.” In fact, it is to blatantly turn our backs and disregard His law entirely. It is to miss the mark—the standard defined by his Torah, or His instructions to His people.

In John 8:11, Yashuah tells a woman who was just caught in the act of adultery to “go and sin no more.” He literally tells her to go and transgress the Torah no more. He didn’t say, “I hope you feel deep regret for your actions.” His instructions to her began with an action word: GO.

And that’s what this season of teshuvah is about. Going back to Him. Returning to His heart, His ways, and His instructions for righteous living. It’s about making a conscious decision to turn around and walk 180 degrees in the opposite direction away from our sin and back to YHWH.

But we can’t do that if we aren’t willing to search our hearts. The word Elul in Aramaic actually means “search,” which is appropriate given the nature of this season. Not only must we understand the definition of sin. We must pray for YHWH to reveal our sin to us. Only then can we confess and repent, and when we confess, He is faithful to forgive:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

But it doesn’t stop there!

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” 1 John 2: 3-6

What does it mean to walk as he walked? Yashuah followed the instructions of his loving Father, and taught his disciples to do the same. And in this season of repentance, I pray that we all turn our hearts back to Him and begin living according to His will.

GO, and sin no more.

This post is Day 3 in my 40 Days of Repentance series. Click here to read Day 2.

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