Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What is true repentance

What is repentance? What does it mean to repent? Many believe that it is asking for forgiveness for a particular sin, but does it really mean that? Many people believe that it is and that they can carry on doing this sin, as long as they ask for forgiveness every time, that they are okay.

The word for repentance in the Hebrew Scriptures is the word, “teishuva.” The root word is the Hebrew word, “shuv” (pronounced shoov), which simply means, turn. The concept of teishuva (repentance) is not only associated with the turning away from sin in the Hebrew understanding. It can be used in many other ways too. Let us look at one such example.

In the time of the temple, the Levites who had certain duties in the temple, used to work in kind of “shift work” schedule. To indicate a shift change, a certain shofar blast would indicate the change. When this shofar blast was heard by a Levite who was to come on duty, he would immediately drop what ever he was busy with and “teishuva” (turn) and go to the temple to do his duty. It was not about turning away from something wrong, but rather to go do what he was required to do at that time.

Repentance from sin is the same thing. When we repent (teishuv), we are required to drop the sin we are busy with and turn 180 degrees and continue in the instruction of the Almighty and never look back. It is a permanent turning away from that sin, never to be repeated again.

New believers, people who come to follow the way of the Torah, have to “teishuva” (turn) away from their previous sinful lifestyle and go follow what the Torah teaches us to do. Once that believer, who has made a commitment to follow the Torah and learns what is required of him, then goes and commits a sin that is liable for death, according to the Torah, will then have his blood on his own hands. This person should not be allowed to fellowship with the congregation any longer. The reason for this is that it becomes understood by others that these kind of actions, that are an abomination, are acceptable to do. That person will be judged by the Almighty.

Repentance does not mean that we can ask for forgiveness and then continue to do the same sin again and just ask forgiveness every time. Repentance is turning away from that sin and put it behind you and never do it again. We will all eventually be living a perfectly righteous life if we all continue to do “teishuva” for all our sins. The more we do it, the easier it becomes and the more we are going to develop a pure love for the Almighty and His Word and also for our neighbors too.

If we all do teishuva and truly turn to do what is written in the Torah, then we will all stand side by side in perfect agreement with the Torah as our foundation. May we all study His Torah in order to know what is right in the eyes of the Almighty and turn from our evil ways to do what is good.