About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

Home Page


I Am Wrong

If you read Genesis 3 you'll note that Adam couldn't bring himself to admit that he was in the wrong.  Instead, he shifted the blame from himself to Eve, and even onto God.  From then on, every human is genetically predisposed to Adam's inability to admit to being wrong.  We find it hard, if not impossible for some, to say "I am sorry" and "I am wrong".  So I ask; "Is saying I'm sorry the same as saying I'm wrong"?


There are lots of reasons why we might say "I'm sorry".  We may utter these words in frustration only after our wrong is exposed.  We might say "I'm sorry" to relieve our feelings associated with guilt.  We might even say "I'm sorry" in the hopes of quickly changing the subject, thus avoiding the admission of being wrong.  In the hope of all being forgiven and forgotten we might act as if the wrong was never committed, and again, avoiding saying "I'm sorry".  In these situations the wrong isn't given a chance to be forgiven and forgotten.  It's simply swept under the proverbial carpet.  When the next conflict arises all hell breaks loose as the junk from under the carpet explodes into a volcanic mess, making things worse than ever. 


Saying "I'm sorry" doesn't always equate to saying "I'm wrong".  I suggest that if "I'm sorry" isn't accompanied by "I'm wrong", then the "I'm sorry" is a shallow "I'm sorry".  Such a shallow "I'm sorry" does little to restore broken relationships caused by a wrong.  


Let's put this into a Biblical perspective with another question.  Is saying "I'm sorry" the same as saying "I repent"?  In other words, does a simple "I'm sorry" meet the criteria for Biblical repentance?


I see the church failing on this issue.  We're not teaching Biblical repentance, including the prerequisite to repentance, and there is something that must precede repentance.  From my corner of the Christian community I note that the common consensus among Christians is that repentance is the changing of our minds about sin.  What we once considered not to be sin we now believe is sin, but is this Biblical repentance?


Many Bible teachers define repentance based on the meaning of the Greek word "metanoeo" that the New Testament translates into English as "repent".  In the Greek culture the New Testament was written in "metanoeo" did mean a change of mind.  You might then think that our concept of changing our minds about sin is Biblical, but it's not.  It's a mistake to define Biblical repentance based on the how  pagan Greek culture understood the word "metanoeo".  Like many other Greek words, the New Testament enhances the meaning of "metanoeo" for its own purposes.     


As New Testament Christians we often mistakenly view the Old Testament as being outdated.  Because the New Testament finds its roots in Old Testament Hebrew, we must understand repentance as Old Testament Hebrews understood it, not as pagan Greeks understood it. 


The Old Testament, especially the prophets, makes it clear that repentance is not merely changing our minds about sin.  It's turning from our sin.  It's leaving a life of sin in the dust as we flee from it.  There's a vast difference between Greek thought and Hebrew thought on this mater, a difference that few understand.  The fact of the matter is that we can change our minds about what sin is without actually leaving the sin.  Simply changing our minds about sin isn't Biblical repentance.    


So, is saying "I'm sorry" repenting?  No, it's not.  We must not only be sorry for our sin, we must admit our sin and flee from it in order to demonstrate genuine repentance.  The prerequisite to Biblical repentance is knowing we have sinned and saying "I'm wrong".  If we're unwilling to say "I'm wrong" we can't honestly say "I'm sorry", and we can't genuinely say "I repent".  It's that's simple.


Reformation Theology has it right.  Before we can teach grace, we must teach law.  Romans 7:7 states that it's the law that tells us we sin.  We must not neglect the teaching of sin as some Evangelicals are doing.  The fact of the matter is that unless we know what sin is, we can't admit to sin and flee from it.  If we can't say "I'm wrong" then the very foundation of our salvation is thus compromised, leaving the rest of our salvation suspect.   


Verbalizing the fact we have sinned, otherwise known as confession of sin, is important in the process of salvation.  I think Evangelicals tend to hesitate talking about confession of sin because it sounds too Catholic.  That shouldn't be.  Confession of sin, saying "I'm wrong", is the prerequisite to repentance.  Both logic and Scripture tells us there is no repentance without confession of sin.       


Without an admission of wrong there is no repentance.  Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sin.  Without forgiveness of sin there is no reconciliation to God, which is the ultimate goal of saying "I'm wrong".  In short, there's no salvation without a heart felt "I'm wrong".  Knowing this, God doesn't have a double standard in this matter.  How He wants us to relate to Him is how He wants us to relate to each other.  So, if we can't say "I'm sorry" accompanied by a heart felt "I'm wrong" to the one we've sinned against, the wrong remains intact and reconciliation eludes us.  We just wait for the next volcanic explosion to make things worse.


The foundation of a genuine "I'm sorry" is a genuine "I'm wrong".  This is basic to Biblical salvation and a harmonious relationship with both God and man.  This is a serious matter, so we can't afford to get this wrong.  I conclude that there is no reconciliation of broken relationships without a genuine "I'm sorry", "I'm wrong", and "I repent".  


Home Page