Repentance Vs Restitution / 2

repentance1I wish to continue the thoughts on this subject from yesterday.  Perhaps the thought process behind restitution is tied to our lack of understanding of God’s grace.  We will never deserve salvation.  We receive salvation by God’s grace rather than man’s efforts.  It is my opinion that we tie restitution to repentance because we attempt to undo our wrongs separate from God’s grace.  We provide restitution in an attempt to be less guilty of our sin.  Good deeds do not remove sin.  Restitution is not nor has it ever been part of God’s salvation for man. 

If God forgives sin that sin no longer exists.  There are no qualifiers.  If the sin is forgiven then it  no longer exists in God’s mind.  The restitution / repentance problem centers on our misunderstanding of God’s forgiveness.  With man we may be able to forgive but we are rarely able to forget.  God not only forgives but also no longer remembers the sin.  Man doesn’t need to earn favor so that the sin is forgotten by God.  When the sin is dismissed by the Lord it is as if it had never been committed. 

God’s grace allows man to be forgiven on God’s terms.  This is so foreign to our thought process.  In order for man to extend favor he must receive something in return.  If I do a good deed I am conditioned to expect a result.  If I am to forgive I normally expect to do so only after proper remorse has been shown. I further expect some sort of restitution to be made if possible.  This is man’s terms not the Lords.

If I am in Christ the sin may be committed but  not counted against me.  In Romans 4:8 Scripture says, “Blessed is the man the Lord does not mark sin against.”  We have trouble comprehending the goodness of God’s grace.  In our mind there has to be an active restitution for each sin before God will forgive the sin. We believe every sin must be confessed.  The confession in essence becomes our restitution for the sin.   This is not God’s terms. God’s terms result in the blood of Christ continuing to cleanse the sins of those who remain in relationship with Him. 

Perhaps the problem with this concept of repentance vs restitution is tied strongly to our misunderstanding of grace.  Our teaching concerning grace has to go further than stopping at the sterile definition of “unmerited favor.”  Obviously we have expressed to much concern for patterns and not nearly enough concern for the character of God.

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8 Responses to Repentance Vs Restitution / 2

  1. Jan says:

    This is REALLY good stuff. It makes one stop and think! We in the church of Christ have failed miserably about grace. When grace is not understood then Jesus’ purpose for becoming a man and dying on the cross is missed. Keep up the good work Dell! Thanks!

  2. Judia Green says:

    God’s grace is an awesome and powerful gift. However, we must realize that while we can in no way earn forgiveness of our sins it still requires action on our part whether you use the term “restitution” or “consequence.” “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” Col 3:25. If you robbed a bank then felt guilty and decided to repent of that sin would your sin be forgiven if you just asked for forgiveness but failed to return the money? The dictionary defines the term repent as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.” In other words, you have to return the money. The restitution of returning the money does not earn your forgiveness, but allows you to be forgiven through God’s grace. “But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and [then] to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” Acts 26:20. Repentance without restitution is equivalent to faith without works. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” James 2:26

  3. Thanks Judia for your comments,
    Repentance will bring about action but repentance is not preceeded by the action. The change of life is brought about by the repentance, repentance is not a result of lifestyle change. Acts 20:26 says, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” When we repent we will change the way we live, not because repentance is lifestyle change but as a result of a change of heart. If our repentance is genuine we will bring forth deeds that prove our repentance. Our change of action does not drive our repentance. My forgiveness is not tied to my making things right. My forgiveness is tied to my being in God’s grace. If I am in Christ my new life may motivate me to correct things I have left uncorrected. The thing we must not confuse is this, my forgiveness is not tied to my “undoing” the wrong I have committed, my forgiveness is tied to being in Christ. The good deeds I do prove my repentance but these good deeds are not my repentance. God bless, dell

  4. Brad says:

    Seems to me ‘consequences’ (ramifications that result from a given action) have no relation whatsoever to ‘restitution’ (making payment for some wrong done to another).

    Even if, using Judia’s analogy above, you return the money (in her eyes, ‘making restitution’), the consequences of what you’ve done will still cause you to be wanted by the police. Try kidnapping a child and then showing up and attempting to return the kid and tell the parents, “I’m so sorry, here you go.”

    Guess what, you still have transgressed the law simply by engaging in the act itself. Returning the money (or the child) absolutely does not remove your guilt. However, through the blood of Christ, when we repent, Christ makes the situation as though we had never ‘robbed the bank’ to begin with.

    This is a great blog, Dell. To put it in simpler terms, you’re saying that basically repentance is trusting God to wash away our sins through the blood of Christ, while restitution is our attempt to do the washing by ourselves, right? Seems to me that restitution is simply man trying to make himself feel better about what he’s done. Keep up the good work!

  5. Don Morrison says:

    I think Judia has something good to say. Dell is right that repentance preceeds whatever changes may come. And there are certainly circumstances that can never be restored by the best intentions or actions. Yet being sorrowful with a godly sorrow (that leads to repentance) is not catagorized with words like “preceed” or “follow;” they are simply connected in some way. And this is true of restitution. It is not a key or a formula – but godly sorrow does produce a desire to make up for past mistakes.

    Paul could not un-participate in the murder of Stephen and others, and he carried that guilt with him in some way when he spoke to the mob in Jerusalem. Yet he was forgiven. Whatever he may have accomplished in terms of restitution is not given to us. And how often is restitution mentioned in connection with conversion, repentance, or salvation. But it is something within us that that wants to correct the past and move forward.

  6. Don,
    Wouldn’t Acts 26:20 be the correct thought? We prove our repentance by the deeds that follow.

  7. christina says:

    I think what everyone is trying to say is God is involved in repentance, and man is involved in restitution. Man can make as many restitutions as he wants, but until he repents and asks God to forgive him and changes his ways all of those restitutions were for naught. This ties in with assurance. Read Dell’s blog on that. Christina

  8. bglass6@ivytech.edu says:

    Amazing stuff! I grew up thinking that that restitution was a co-requisite of repentance. It baffled me because I had no idea how to undo every sin. The task seemed enormous. I used to think, how can the holy spirit deal with someone about restitution if the sins are forgiven and never to be remembered. I feel like your words made salvation a little more attainable for me…thanks for clearing that up 🙂 .

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