Repentance and Why it Matters

“…you refused to repent, and so you couldn’t believe.”   Matt 21:32

I have often wondered why some people remain stubborn unbelievers, despite a logically, very persuasive presentation of the good news of Jesus.  There are good reasons to believe.  Yes, its true there is not enough evidence to be convinced beyond all doubt, but there is certainly enough evidence to be convinced beyond reasonable doubt.  Anyone who has ever sat on a jury knows there is never enough evidence to convince one of guilt or innocence beyond all doubt.  There is always the extremely unlikely “what if” scenario, but the evidence heavily supports one conclusion or the other.  Since a court can’t allow a trial to go on forever, jurors must decide what the evidence best supports.

Even when the evidence overwhelmingly supports the case that the story of Jesus is true, why do people reject it, ignore it, or actually come out actively hostile to it?   I would suggest that repentance is a stumbling block for some.  After all, the gospel message is the story of God’s forgiveness for every sinner who repents, because of what Jesus did, paying the price for the sins of all.  Forgiveness is available to all, but not all will claim it.  Why?

In one case, famously told by Jesus in his parable about the Pharisee and the tax collector, the Pharisee just can’t accept the truth that he, too, is a sinner.  He compares himself with another and convinces himself that he follows all the rules better than others, and therefore God must accept him.  Jesus taught that all of us are sinners who fall short of the perfection which is God’s standard.  All are in need of forgiveness.  All need a savior.

Others aren’t so concerned about how they look, but they have a sin, past or present, they aren’t willing to admit or give up.  Some are still justifying something they did in the past, continually refusing to confess it, but putting out reasons why the thing they did wasn’t wrong.  Others have a present sin they don’t want to give up.  If coming to Jesus means giving up this person or relationship, they aren’t willing to do it.  And so, they invent reasons not to believe.  Someone with abortions in their past passionately declares there is no God, and if there were, He/She leaves moral decisions to us.  Someone with a mistress declares all Christians are hypocrites anyway, and faith is just a way of making the hypocrites feel good about themselves.

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