In making a public profession of faith, the early church would stand, face the west, and say, “I renounce you, Satan, and all your works and all your ways.” This generic declaration is still practiced by many expressions of Christianity throughout the world. More specifically, the early church would renounce every counterfeit religious experience they had, every false vow or pledge they made, and every false teacher or doctrine in which they believed. They would then face the East and make a public declaration to follow Christ and believe the truth.
It was said in the Old Testament, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). In a similar way, Paul encouraged the church to renounce secret and shameful ways and choose the truth. Renunciation involves giving up a claim or right. When we renounce, we are making a definite decision to let go of any past unrighteous commitments, pledges, vows, pacts and beliefs that are not Christian. We have not truly repented (changed our mind) if we make a decision for Christ and continue to hold on to past and believe what we have always believed. That would make salvation an experience of addition rather than transformation. At salvation, we didn’t just receive something new to be added on to what we already were. We are new creations in Christ and that potentially sets us free from our past. To decisively let go of the past is the first step in repentance. It is not enough to say we believe something to be true and at the same time continue to believe the lie. The truth will set us free only if it nullifies the lies that we have believed.
The Apostle Paul reveals the close link between renouncing and not losing heart (2 Cor. 4:1,2). Many new believers can easily lose heart if they simply add a little Christianity to their existing world experience. The finished work of Christ took care of our sin and provided for us a new life in Christ. But at the moment we were born-again, we had not fully repented nor were our minds instantly renewed. We needed the Holy Spirit within us to lead us to the truth that would set us free. Only then can we fully repent and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. As new believers we can repent because it is God who grants repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. Only then can we come to our senses and escape the trap of the devil (2 Timothy 2:25-26). A failure to do so will leave many Christians defeated and bound to their pasts. They are trying to have the best of both worlds and doing so has caused them heartache and pain. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
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