Numbers 15:26: And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.
The people of Israel who came from Egypt, whose journey was chronicled in the book of the focus verse, were noted for complaining. They found it hard to express trust in God. Stephen called them stiff-necked, always resisting the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51).
We also need to be aware of the errors prevailing in our generation so that we might be on guard. Jesus said that we should watch and pray so we do not fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41).
While all temptations are common to all generations, because it is the same devil, the way the temptations are presented differs. While sexual immorality may be a thing for many generation for this generation there is a special manifestation of it in pornography and homosexuality and paedophilia. There is sexual impropriety repackaged, enhanced, publicised, and made more appealing and the internet gives a new wing and reach to this evil.
This generation also have the problem of addiction. Idleness in many climes, due to time saving technologies that have been developed, and entertainment outlets designed, the mind lies fallow and the idle minds becomes the devil’s workshop.
There are many things to get addicted to, there are mind-altering substances that perpetuate dependence on it. All these are supposed to occupy the heart so that the love of God will not find a place.
There are sins peculiar to different families. Look at your life, are there not inherited sins from your parents? If your father is addicted to pornography, adulterous and full of anger, the very fact of being around him will ensure that you reflect all these. And the answer is Christ, through whom you have freedom from sin (Romans 7:24-25). The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to our need of him. And the bible says whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).
But the path to life is repentance. Without repentance there is no openness to receive help. John the Baptist came to Israel preaching the message of repentance (Mark 1:4). He carried the spirit and power of Elijah, who called Israel back to repentance to God in his time (1Kings 17).
The problem in the time of Elijah was idolatry, while in the time of John the Baptist, it was social injustice, dead conscience, disregard for God etc. John the Baptist brought about God-consciousness in Israel and the people were drawn to his message because they wanted to be part of the kingdom of God (Matthew 3:1-2).
Elijah called his generation back to God, and after the manifestation of God as fire on an altar he laid, the people confessed: the lord, he is God.
Via the gate of repentance people get to enter in an experience of God. Therefore repentance is for those desiring God, who chose to move away from their error to enter the presence of God (Psalm 15). They have been called to be all they can be with God. Those who are ready to go all the way with God are called to purge themselves of all evil works (2Timothy 2:21).
The bible says that the foundation of Christianity is repentance from dead works and faith towards God which are like two sides of the coin (Hebrews 6:1-3). Therefore without repentance, you cannot even start out as a Christian. And it is something you take with you along the journey to keep you on the straight and narrow way that leads to life (Matthew 7:14).
Repentance starts with the will, however there are components of the emotion and the mind (all components of the soul) involved.
You have to make the decision to change. You cannot continue being sympathetic with the wrong acts or moving with the wrong group.
There is no true repentance until you change the group you move with. The man described as prosperous in the bible in psalm one did not walk with the wicked, sit with mocker or stand with sinners. He was careful to spend time with the word and away from the wrong group. And Paul was firm when he said: bad companies corrupt good manners (1Corinthians 15:33).
John the Baptist told the people: “bring forth fruits meant for repentance (it is not just what you confess, but how you change that matters) and do not say that we have Abraham for our father. Perish the thought of being given a special treatment by God when it comes to sin, because God hates sin (Luke 3:7-8).” Your sins will find you out (Numbers 32:23). That means you have to take responsibility for your own change.
Jesus said that the people should not think that those who died in an incident are any worse than those listening to him, adding that if they do not repent they will likewise perish (Luke 13:1-5). Sin is sin regardless of who commits it.
Your will also has to do with the use of your time. When you fill your time with activities that are about seeking God, pursuing him, concentrating on him, sin will not find a place.
The stirring of the emotion have something to do with wrong behaviours. So if I want to act right I will avoid situation that will stir my emotion in the wrong direction. The man that cannot control his emotion is like a city without fence (Proverbs 25:28). Self-control, a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), is being able to control your reactions in different situations.
Your emotion can get you into trouble if you do not recognise its flow and control it as appropriate. Everywhere in the bible we are told to be sober (Titus 2:6). That is not given to a life sun on the ebbs and flows of emotion, rather we should be committed to the truth of God. We should not be easily carried away.
When we are focused on appearance, they we are easily carried away emotionally. If what we seek is what makes us feel good, then we are not ready to pay the price for righteousness. Paul wrote that the one who lives for pleasure is dead even while still alive (1Timothy 5:6).
The emotions are inner motions, which may be holy or unholy. The only alternative against the unholy motion is to actively cultivate the holy motion which is passion for God, and love of him, zeal for his house. Jesus was “guilty” of running on excessive zeal, making a whip to clean up the house of his father (John 2:17). Get addicted to God like Jesus, and all other addictions will melt away in the fiery furnace of your passion for him.
Repentance really means change of mind, for a change of course. When we think differently we will live differently. If the spirit of our mind is not changed/renewed (4:17-27) then what we say, how we live cannot change. We can wear new cloths but until we wear new thoughts we will continue with our old lives, we would not change.
When we put the word of God concerning any area of struggle with sin in our heart, we are primed to think God thoughts in that area and therefore live God’s life, breaking that sin chain.
Jesus said: learn from me and you will find rest for your soul (Matthew 11:29). Learning is a thing of the mind. We are changed into the image of the one we are learning from. And Paul said, we should learned Christ. That is the end point of repentance.
- Christ: the Bridegroom Pt-2 (divinityhc.wordpress.com)
- Connecting the Old Testament to the Gospels, Part One – Lesson Twelve (kingdomofchrist.info)
- An Interview on “Fallen: A Theology of Sin” (thegospelcoalition.org)
- Prayer in the Life of a Christian (deorganicchurch.hubpages.com)