Updated: May 18, 2022
January 17, 2021
You can't change the past but you can stop living there. Here are the points Pastor David provides about regret, redemption, and repentance.
After Regret, how do you begin again?
Hand it over
Let it be redeemed
The Process of Repentance:
Experience genuine sorrow for it
Own your responsibility for it
Seek God's forgiveness
By faith, accept His cleansing
Redemption is not something we do, it is something God causes to happen.
Redemption might look like this:
It might look like finding your way back to God
It might be beginning to really grow spiritually
It might be a brand new timing
It might be a redirection
It might be a blessing or becoming a blessing to others
You know that we've started a brand-new series that's called “You Can Begin Again”. And it's not based on any sort of “Rah, rah” principle, it's based on the design of the universe. This is how God has created reality, with restart, with the ability to begin again. And definitely through the story of your faith, from Genesis to Revelation, it is a collection of experiences over and over where God's activity in a person's life is, you can start again, with me, you can start again, you can begin again. And so, we started this series, two weeks ago and last week, we jumped into a really practical issue in our lives, that's what we're going to be doing for the rest of this series. So, these practical areas in our life, where we may be stuck, and we need to begin again. And last time, we started with the area of beginning again after regret. So, we just introduced it last time, we said there's some things you need to learn about God to even start the process of releasing or beginning again, after regret.
Now today, we move on with some really practical “how to” and what to do principles. Let me set the context this way. On the night that Jesus was arrested and then taken for trial, and then ultimately, the next day, crucified. That night was a regrettable night for his closest followers, his 12 disciples. So, he goes to the garden and takes his 12 disciples. He predicted all of these things are going to happen, that he's going to be betrayed, he's going to be arrested, that he is going to be tortured and beaten, that he's going to be crucified. And they know he has said it. And they've all sort of claimed their bravery and their commitment to him; they'll never leave his side. And so, when they get to the garden, they began to pray, and after a little while, the mob comes, and they take Jesus and arrest him. And I don't know exactly what was going on in the midst of that moment, but we. We do know this, the disciples lost their nerve, they all got scared. And they all ran, they abandoned him, and they ran in different directions. They left him alone. And that night was particularly regretful to the two most respected disciples among the twelve. One of those was the disciple Peter. Peter was, was a self-assertive leader. And he did that all through Jesus’ ministry, always putting himself out there, and always making kind of bold claims; and making claims about himself; about how courageous he was, and how loyal he was, and how much he was going to stand by Jesus. And as you know, he ran. But a few hours later, he sort of mustered up the courage to go where Jesus was being tried, and he wanted to get into the outer courtyard, and maybe he could just overhear a little bit of what was going on. But he kind of miscalculated, and he got there and he's hovering around a fire and people there began recognizing him and accusing him of being a disciple of Jesus. And he denies it. And then he denies it again, even more vehemently. And then the third time with oaths, he is saying, “I know nothing about him, I don't follow him. I have nothing to do with him.” And then a rooster crows.
Pause right there, move to the second leading disciple, the second most respected disciple, in fact, maybe more respected than Peter himself, and that is Judas. Judas was not from Galilee, that rural area where all the fishermen disciples were from. He was from the Jerusalem area; he was probably a bit more sophisticated, he was probably more educated. And he was the most trusted among them. Because they entrusted him to care for their finances, he was carrying the money bag, he would be the most trusted disciple. But as things were whirling around him, things were swirling around Jesus and in Jerusalem, that on that Passion Week, he got it, he could tell that the writing was sort of on the wall, and that he had to calculate his exit from this because things are going to go badly for Jesus. And so, he goes through, he goes to the officials, and he says, “I can name where he is, I can take you to where he is. And so, what will you pay me?” They give him 30 pieces of silver, and he does that.
Now we move back to that moment, where Peter denies Christ for the third time. Luke says in that moment that the rooster crowed, and that Jesus turned and looked at him, and he crumbled. And within three verses, we have the depth of both men's remorse and regret. They happened within three verses of each other. And so, in Matthew 26, it’s verse 75, (it’s like the last verse of Matthew 26) it just says “Peter remembered the words that Jesus had said, and he went out and he wept bitterly.” Can you imagine his regret for what is just happening? He’s just as a big, huge macho fisherman, he's just crying crocodile tears. And then just three verses later, in Matthew 27, verse three, when Judas saw that Jesus had been condemned. I don't know what Judas thought was going to happen to him. He betrayed him into the hands of the of the religious leaders, I don't know if he thought that he could point him out, and that Jesus would slip out of it in some way. I don't know what he was thinking. But when he saw that Jesus had been condemned, verse three, he felt remorse, verse five, and he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary, and he departed. And he went away and hanged himself. And so, Peter, and Judas both experienced regret that night. Look, these just simply illustrate how powerful regret can affect our lives, and it can be devastating.
And, look, it makes the point that it can be so easy for us to get stuck in it. Whether it was from a relationship breakup, and you've just continued to cycle around the regret of it. Or when we let an addiction take hold, or we make a really careless financial decision, or we make some selfish choices that end up hurting someone that we love, it's just easy to see why we can get caught in a downward spiral of regret. In fact, one clinical psychologist who studies the effect of regret says this, and you need this, because you need this to start walking out of it. So, she wrote ruminating on your regrets has a damaging effect both on your mind and body. It triggers depression, it can be an underlying cause of chronic stress, which destroys your immune system, it negatively affects your hormonal system, which keeps you from feeling any sense of real calmness or peace. Therefore, it keeps you from recovering for months, or years or even a lifetime. So, here's the point about your regret, you’ve got to root it out and start making the choices that help you begin again, or eventually you will drown in your regret.
And so, I want us to be really practical and make sense of it. Let's start this way. Let's make sense of the kinds of regret that we get stuck in. There are three, three basic kinds of regret. They're simple. Number one: ”The something I did regret”. It's one category of regrets; Relationship that we torpedoed from our own actions, or selfish or careless choices we've made, or maybe it's the anger that we unleashed, or money that we just did the most irresponsible thing with and, we regret it or maybe you started drinking and wish you never had done that. The “Something thing I did” regrets. Number two there is also ”The something I didn't do regrets.” It’s the opportunity, you miss that thing that you had this chance earlier, but it just scared you and you didn't do it and now you regret it. Or maybe for you, you're just coming to regret all the time you've wasted on something. Or maybe it was the love that you didn't express fully enough or at the right time. Or maybe the encouragement that you didn't give, or the or the failure to just simply apply yourself to something hard, that there was just that thing in your life. And if you could do it, it would have made a huge difference, but it just looked hard. And you just you wanted it easy and you didn't apply yourself. Or maybe it's the forgiveness that you didn't give. It's the ”Something I didn't do regrets”. And so, there's something “I did regret” something “I didn't do regrets”. And then there is a third category and that is the “ Something done to me” regrets. These are the hurtful or damaging things that have happened to you, maybe and probably not your fault at all. The accident that you were in, maybe a rejection that you have experienced, or someone betrayed you or, or maybe you're experiencing a disability or a chronic illness, the “Something done to me regrets” three categories. And look here’s the first insight you need about all about the regrets that you experience, your battle with regret is always fought in a singular place. It’s , in the pathway between your heart and mind. The battle is always fought between your heart and mind. And victory or defeat hinges on one single thing: and that is how I choose to respond to what has happened to me. It is a great endowment that God has given to every soul created in his image, this power, this ability to choose how you will respond to anything that happens to you. And you have the power to take control of how you will respond to anything that goes on in your life. And listen, if you are passive at all, in response to regret, it is inevitably going to come out of you in resentment, bitterness, and anger, it's going to poison your inner person. And so, most of our regrets are caused by something. I'm going to just say this short two sentences here, it ought to be an entire message in this series all by itself, but just take it for what it is. Most of our regrets are caused by trying to satisfy our deepest longings that can only be filled by God, with a substitute. If you want to know how you got to that regret, what triggered the thing you did, it is because you were trying to go after a substitute for a longing that only God can fill. Maybe you don't believe that you can stop the pattern, but you can. You can start turning to God for your deepest thirsts. And it is never, never, never too late to do that. No matter what you've done, or what you didn't do, or what was done to you, no matter when it happened, no matter how badly you were hurt, no matter how old you are. Now, no matter how hopeless you may feel about it, it is still possible to begin again.
And so, look, we all get it, we can acknowledge it, you can't change the past, but you can stop living there. And you can start that process by becoming free of the regret that happened there. And so how, how? Let’s be practical, after regret, how do you begin again? I'm going to give you three steps. They're going to be said in a really simple way, but they're not simple and they're not easy. But they're potent and powerful. And so, after regret, how do you begin again? I'm going to give it to you in steps, three basic steps.
Number one: Confront it; confront your regret. The goal here is this, to start bending your regret for your good, for you to begin to take control of your regret and bend it for your good. And so, this is you letting your regret motivate something good inside of you. Because here's why: Look, change is hard. But you can use the emotion of it as fuel, to energize change. You can use your regret to move on from just feeling sorry for it. You can make the emotion motivate you to begin creating something better inside of you and create a breakout, a regret break out. And so how to confront it, I'm going to give you two things to do inside of this in confronting it.
Here's how you confront it. Number one, you do it this way: By interrogating it, you should interrogate your regret. And you should do it on the basis of a biblical principle that's found in II Corinthians 10. It's verse five; you've probably heard this before. Paul, the apostle is writing there, and he is just saying, We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God. And we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. And so, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ in relationship to a regret, what does that mean to do? It means this, face it, interrogate it, and demand useful information of it. Make it give up the information you need to understand how you got there, and to understand how not to repeat it. But most of all, the principle is verse five; Don't let your regret lie to you. Because that's what most regrets do. They embellish, and they exaggerate what your regret means. Stop allowing it to lie to you. For instance, your regret will say, “I hurt my friends so badly that we will never have a relationship again.” Well, that's a lie. That is not necessarily true at all. It could be that there is a moment, and that moment maybe now, that that friend is open to hearing from you and open to reconciling. Your regret will say to you, I tried everything to stop this thing, this habit, maybe, maybe you want to stop smoking, or maybe some addictive thing is in your life, and you've tried over and over and, and you regret that you've ever done that, you regret that you ever started. And so, your regret starts lying to you saying that it's impossible to get out of this. That's absolutely not true. Call it on the carpet, nail it down, interrogate it, call it a liar, where it's lying to you. You need, you need to see the negative things that happened for what they are. But don't speculate the worst imagination you can bring to mind about it, and then operate as if that speculation is true. Dallas Willard wrote this. I've shared this with you before, but it's hugely applicable at this moment. He wrote, I think it was in renovation of the heart, he wrote, ”The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell on.” Do you believe that makes you ultimately powerful? The ultimate freedom you have as a human being is the power to select what you will allow your mind to dwell on? He continues, “It is in our thoughts that the first movements toward renovation of the heart occur. That's a secret weapon. Thoughts are the place where your life begins to change.” And so, you can't change what happened in the past. But you can change what you do in response to it here forward.
And so, we're confronting our regret. And how do we do that? Well, we interrogate it, but then also, we bring it, this ought to be a reset. In fact, I hope that you could just clear your mind. And here, this second thing here, and that is bringing it into the presence of God. How do you confront it? You interrogate it, but then you bring it into the presence of God. And when you bring it into God's presence, you got to you got to bring it knowing and feeling and experiencing the fact that you are entering a holy atmosphere of love, and mercy and forgiveness. I mean, this is how God responds to anyone who comes to him with their hearts and their hands open before Him, who want to be right with Him. God gives us a kind of a catalogue of the environment around God when we come to Him that way. It's found in Psalm 103. Psalm 103 ought to be foundation of your life because here's the atmosphere you enter. When you enter God's presence with a regret, and you open it to Him, listen to it. Psalm 103, starting in verse eight. And so, the Bible says “The Lord is compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will he keep us anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Verse 14, “For He e himself knows our frame”. I love that. He knows you. He knows what you're made out of. He himself knows our frame. He is mindful He’s clear on this. He's mindful that we are but dust. I mean, look at the waves of reassurance, the word gives us about God's posture, about the environment in which you take a regret to Him. I'm going to go over it again. Verse 8, he's compassionate and gracious, abounding in loving kindness, verse 10, he doesn't deal with us in proportion to our sin, when we come to him open handed in open hearted, his loving kindness is like the distance from the earth to the end of the universe. How far is that? The answer is, we don't know. But here's what we do know, the farthest that astronomers have ever looked into the universe is actually a galaxy 13 billion light years away. And we can’t comprehend those dimensions. We can't comprehend that t sort of distance. I mean, we can try, we can say, okay, travel at 186,000 miles per second, get in the spaceship, and travel at that speed for 13 billion years, and you'll get there. We can't fathom that distance. But he's comparing that distance to the breadth and to the vastness of His love for us. What it means is, you can't comprehend the vastness and the breadth of His love for you. That's the environment in which you're walking into when you when you go to God open handed and open hearted with a regret. His forgiveness, verse 12, is this complete. It's like the distance between the between East and West. What is that distance? We don't know what, it's an immeasurable. Why is it an immeasurable; because it's infinite. Verses 13 and 14 He has the greatest possible compassion on you because He knows your frame. He knows you are but dust. He knows you're made out of simple stuff. And so, you must know this about God. In order to allow God to deal with your regret, you've got to bring it into His presence, but you got to know the atmosphere in which you're bringing it, because God does not want to leave You crushed under the weight of your regrets. And knowing this about God gives you the power to face the past without it crushing you. It gives you the courage to stare down your past regrets until they lose their power over you. You ever try that with a pet, right? Your dog ever you're like, lock on with your dog, and just staring down until finally he ducks his head and He will do that with your regret. You have the power to do that with your regrets. Therefore, you can do I Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” That's number one. That's the first step.
What's the second step in and beginning again after regret? The second step is this: Hand it over, hand it over, confront it. And now Hand it over, do this one thing, hand them over. So, II Corinthians 7:9 -11 gives us the principle for how to do this. And so, II Corinthians 7, I'm going to start in verse nine. Watch the verses. So, Look, the apostle Paul writes, “I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance. For you were made sorrowful according to the will of God or according to the desire of God, so that you might not suffer loss and anything through us.” Verse 10, for the sorrow that is according to the desire of God, it produces something, look at what it produces a repentance , it produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation.” Salvation means rescue, leading to rescue, but the sorrow of the world produces death; the remorse of Judas, it just ultimately destroys you. “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow has produced in you.” That word for earnestness means diligence, it means this energy and this effort, look at the diligence, this very thing, this godly sorrow has produced it in you. And so, this is how you hand over your regret. It's through the process of repentance. There it is. Especially if it is if it is a something I did regret. It's key, it's the core, it's the bottom line. And, and repentance is, is not that misunderstood thing that we have, like in the American church now that repentance is just kind of throwing up a sorry to God. “Sorry, Okay, can we forget it can just move on, right?” It's not repentance. Yeah, that's, that's telling God you're sorry, good job. It's a part of repentance. But repentance is a process. Repentance is a turning process. And it's so much deeper than that. Repentance is this, I have this thing in my life, it's no good for me, I look to it to be a source in my life, I look to it to make me secure or happy, or, or to give me safety or, or just to give me pleasure, I look to it for that. And, and so therefore I keep going to it I keep going to it. Repentance is this, I don't want you in my life anymore. And I'm acknowledging that you're not good for me. And from now on, I'm acknowledging that I have a fleshly desire for you. But I'm choosing to turn from you, and to attach all my thirst and all my hungers to the deeper longing that only God can fill. And this is going to be a process of detaching and attaching. And over time, there will come this moment, I don't even want you anymore. There's the process of repentance.
And so, let me give it to you in bullet points, right. This is kind of a regret seminar. Hopefully, halfway through, it's not a regretful seminar, just it's a regret seminar, okay? Here's the process of repentance in bullet points, experience genuine sorrow for it. And then own your own responsibility for it. And then seek God's forgiveness for it. And then by faith, accept His cleansing. And I want you to know something will happen as a result, something supernatural, there is a supernatural aspect involved that you don't do. It'll be what God does to you. Over time, you will feel a release from guilt, produced by His Spirit in you. And so if it's a something I did regret, then go through the process of repentance with God, the one I've just described, of experiencing genuine sorrow for it, seeking to go through the process of releasing that regret, owning your responsibility in it, seeking for God's forgiveness, and by faith accepting His cleansing. And we need to talk about that.
Releasing regret is so much about trusting that God is the one who has the ultimate authority to forgive and to heal and to restore. It's about acknowledging He's the one who has the ultimate authority for that in my life, because it has an emotional effect, because it's the only way that you will ever learn to forgive yourself. If you don't get that, then you're going to you're not going to forgive yourself. You're going to be harder on yourself than God is on you I want to talk straight to you for a second, being harder on yourself than God is, does not make you more spiritual. There's nothing admirable about that. There's nobody whispering behind your back, saying, “Oh, they're just so spiritual. God forgave them, but they won't forgive themselves.” Nobody's admiring you for that. And in fact, you're making light of what Christ did on the cross for you. In fact, you're, you're declaring a greater authority than God has in your life. When we refuse to acknowledge God's forgiveness of ourselves, we're in effect saying, “Yeah, No God, you don't get that call in my life. I do”. Listen to the Word of God. I John 1:9 gives God all authority. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful. He is righteous, to forgive our sins to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Look, if we refuse to forgive ourselves, after we've taken it to God, I'm just saying that you're saying to God, “Hey, God, I decide who gets forgiven and when. I decide when I get forgiven. I decide whether or not I get your unconditional love, not you.” You're calling Christ's death on the cross, his payment for your sin, you're calling it insignificant. If you won’t to allow yourself to experience His forgiveness, the gospel is the power of the Gospel. The Gospel should just make you so amazed and utterly grateful for receiving his grace and mercy that you don't deserve, that there is no question in your mind that if you've taken it to God, you've been released. And so, don't throw God's forgiveness back in His face. When God says he forgives you, you need to say back to him, “I'm forgiven and I forgive myself.”
And so, number one, go through the process of repentance, how are we handing it over? We're handing it over like this, go through the process of repentance. But then secondly, do what you can to bring healing. This doesn't apply to every regret, this applies to horizontal relationship regrets; but it may be you need to do what you can do to bring healing. This isn't you absolving of anything, this isn't you atoning for anything, because you can't do that; only Christ can do that. But you can be at peace, you can be a peacemaker, you can take steps to make things full of peace. And so maybe for you, you need to write an email or a letter or reach out in some way to someone and authentically say at least something like this; “I'm deeply sorry. I know I've caused a lot of pain. I know I've caused significant loss, and I deeply regret what I've done. Is it possible that you could forgive me? I hope for that forgiveness, I know that forgiveness is absolutely possible.” But do you know, now don't misunderstand this. Do you know that ultimately, it doesn't even fully matter how they answer that question. Yes or no? You have done what you can do to be at peace with all people.
But what if it's a something that happened to me regret, a very different kind, the something that happened to me regret? How do you hand it over? You hand it over this way: First it’s with an understanding and then a conversation with God. The understanding is this; it is about it's about resetting your expectations of what this world is, and a that life on this earth is s fallen, we live in a physical world that can be full of hardship and unfair circumstances. And that it is ultimately humanity's reason. Humanity is responsible for the sin that has been done to us and all around us, it has made all of reality fall it's in a fallen state. And so, it's easy to be angry or resentful toward our circumstances. Because bad things have happened to us that weren’t our fault. And if your regret is something that has happened to you, you may have to release the fallen world from responsibility for the circumstances that have hurt you. And then it is important to take it to God and surrender to this reality. That even though God has allowed us to go through very difficult things, they are truly temporary. Because the activity of God across all of human history after Adam and Eve, the activity of God has been one singular thing: to destroy everything evil, everything broken, everything that brings death. That's all of his work up to the cross. And then from the cross to Christ’s coming again, will be for Him to restore everything. And so that everything that is broken is healed. Everything that brings death is brought back to life. That's what makes, that's what makes Revelation 21 so important. Then you begin to experience all “no longers than”, the “no mores”: no more death, no more crying, no more pain, because the first things will pass away. And God will declare, and He will say to you over and over and over, in that moment, “I am making all things new.” That's, that's where your life is going. And it's about by faith, claiming that. And by the way, when does that ultimately happen? You know, it can start happening in your life right now, it may. But when is it going to ultimately fully happen? In that moment that you see Christ come again. Do you know why you need to look forward to the second coming of Christ? Do you know why you should hunger and thirst for the coming of Christ? Because all injustices will be wiped away. Because it'll be the moment, the perfect and right moment, that God resets everything and makes everything right. And so, it's about trusting, it’s about trusting that he will make that right in your life.
There's a third, there's a last step, number three, Let it be redeemed, these are three steps for beginning again after regret: Confront it, Hand it over, Let it be redeemed. Back to Psalm 103. Earlier in the passage, the psalmist is writing about the nature of God. And he says about Him. “He is the one who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases”. Listen to verse four; ”Who redeems your life from the pit. And a crowns you with loving kindness and compassion, and he satisfies your years with good things so that your youth is renewed, like the eagle.” I want us to focus on verse four, that core, the core of this poetic passage here. He is the one who redeems your life from the pit. That is the activity of God in all our lives; redemption is what God does. It's how He relates to you. It's the core of the gospel. It's what Jesus came to do to redeem us. And so, to let your regrets be redeemed is to do this; it is to trust God to make something ultimately good out of it. Therefore, to watch. So if you're going to do that, if you're going to trust God to make something good, out of this regretful thing that you've done, and you've walked through the process, you've confronted it, you've handed it over, and now what are you doing? You're watching for it to be redeemed. Because this is a thing that God does, not you. Therefore, you watch for the ways that redemption can come into your life. It's something that God causes to happen. Just think of the redemption promises that he's offered us already. That it is He who brings beauty for ashes. It's He who makes up for the years that the locusts have eaten. It's He who blesses the latter better than the former. I mean, that's enough said, God redeems. And when you come into a right relationship with him, redemption starts happening. redemption is the mistake turned to a miracle. Redemption is something bad being transformed into something good. Redemption is tragedy formed into opportunity. And so, look, I can't tell you how redemption will come for your regret. I can only tell you watch for it. I don't know what it will look like, but it might, it might look like this: It might be just simply finding your way back to God. Enough said; that's good enough. That's beyond belief. Look it'll make you indestructible if it makes you you find your way back to God. Or redemption might be the beginning of you just finally fully really beginning to grow spiritually; getting strong, undefeatable it might be, a brand-new timing. The lost opportunity that you regret, long past can't have it again. And it might be that there is a brand-new timing for something very similar that God offers in the future. Just watch for, or it might be a redirection. You were so convinced that this was your destiny, that this was your thing, that this is what you were, I don't know, called to do. But then it didn't happen, it fell apart. Maybe because of some things you've done. And redemption for you could be a redirection that God will do a new thing, not like that. It's not that old thing. It has nothing to do with the old thing, there is this brand-new thing that he opens the door for you. Or number five, it might be that he just blesses you. Or it might be that he makes you a blessing in some other people's lives. Look, just start watching for the new thing he will do.
Isaiah 43: 18-19 God says,
“Do not call to mind the former things or ponder the things of the past. Behold, God says I will do something new. Now we will spring forth, will you be aware of it? I believe in make a roadway in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Let it be redeemed.