This past Sunday our pastor mentioned 2 Peter 3:9-10 in his sermon and that prompted me to ask a question.
In 2 Peter 3 the apostle talks about why Christ has delayed his second coming. The reason is: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9-10 ESV) Peter says God is delaying Christ’s return because he wants everyone to repent.
Now, of what do we repent? Do we repent of our beliefs? Generally not. Our beliefs are our concept of how the world is constructed. If we discover those beliefs are in error, we change them. We might regret our former ignorance but we generally do not repent of our ignorance.
Nowhere in the Bible that I recall does God condemn us for our beliefs. If you know of a passage, please let me know. In fact, Paul in Romans 3:20 and 5:13 says where there is no law there is no sin because we become knowledgeable of sin through the law. In John 15:22-24 Jesus says if he had not spoken to the people of his time about sin, they would not be guilty of sin but because he make them aware of sin, they have no excuse for their sins. God will not hold us accountable for what we do not know. He made us finite and will not require us to do what we cannot do.
That of which we do repent is our actions. Everyone has a concept of what is right and what is wrong (John 16:7-8). When we go against what we know to be right, we recognize it is our responsibility to acknowledge our error and makes the necessary changes.
The Bible teaches God will hold us accountable for our actions. In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus talks about the nations gathered before him for judgment. And how will we be judged? It is whether we gave the hungry food to eat, the thirsty something to drink, those needing a place to stay a room in our houses, clothing to those who needed it, and visited the sick and incarcerated. All are actions.
The apostle Peter tells us what God wants from us is repentance. To repent is, as Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary states, “to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better”. What God wants from us is more than a change in our belief; it is a change in our actions, in our life.