Radical Repentance

“So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God. For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him.” (Joel 2:13-14)

In an evangelical culture that honors self-justification, image-management, and conspiracies more than humility, contrition and the fear of the Lord, the household of God desperately needs to rediscover the blessed wisdom and strength of “radical repentance”.

When the age-old voice howls for us to fashion fig leaves for our own unrighteousness, while accusing and condemning others in their’s, we must learn to run to a “zealous repentance” (Revelation 3:19) that will firmly plant us in the sure mercies of God.

The latin word for “radical” literally means “to get to the root”. Because sin is primarily a heart issue, and not just a surface issue, repentance, by definition should always be, “radical”.

The Hebrew word that the Bible most often uses for “repentance” is the word, “SHUBV”. SHUBV is a radical term that literally means “to put fire to your house and leave with God”.

The Hebrew characters in the word (Hebrew being a pictorial language) actually visualize the activity of a man setting fire to his house.


SHUBV is making a radical life-correction, abandoning an old way of living, to do life God’s way, with God Himself.

Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘Repent (SHUBV), turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.” (Ezekiel 14:6)

It’s the Lord’s kindness (Romans 2:4) to expose the dangerous inadequacy of our ways. His call to SHUBV repentance is an invitation for us to leave our rickety, self-constructed, rat-ridden, self-governance and begin a new life under the health and soundness of His leadership.

The Lord gives us a provocative real-life vision of SHUBV in Genesis 19 when He calls Lot and his family to leave Sodom and Gomorrah as the Lord Himself “rains down burning sulfur” (Genesis 19:24) and sets fire to their house.

“15 The angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.” 15 And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city… 24 Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens.” (Genesis 19:15-16, 24)

The season of 2020 has been all about the King “burning down our old normals” so that He may bring us into the order of His new, dawning normal. Throughout these cataclysmic events He’s been asking us: “How willing are you to have Me? Do you see that through plagues and race-riots and political treachery I am helping you to ‘burn your insufficient house down’ so that you may live in My superior dwelling? Do you understand that I am dismantling your meager perception and human-powered reasoning in order to bring you into My eternal frame of mind? As I am bringing My government to this world I want you with Me, thinking My thoughts, enjoying My emotions, agreeing with My judgments and thriving in My wisdom.”

Some of the corrections we need to make will be less costly than others. On the other hand, other life-adjustments will require that the Lord “take us by the hand” (Genesis 19:23) in order to appropriate the “radical” nature of the new normal. 

Jesus issued this immoderate remedy to our tendency to resist “burning the house down and leaving”:   If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29)

Will we spurn His diagnosis and oppose this treatment? Or though it be drastic, will we amputate death so He may fit us with life? This is the question that confronts us in SHUBV repentance.

Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple… Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27 & 33)

The call to Radical Repentance reflects the claim that God has on the lives of those of us that He has redeemed. It’s a mark of our “laissez-faire”, “(self) manifest destiny” culture (as opposed to the call we actually hear Jesus giving us in the gospels) that we would view Christianity as an invitation to anything less extreme than SHUBV.

Here are 31 qualities of “Radical (SHUBV) Repentance”:

1. Radical Repentance calls our soul to the Lord’s threshing floor.

2. Radical Repentance engages the Holy Spirit in a thorough winnowing process that operates out of
a.) a fear of the Lord,
b.) an awareness that He is worthy to receive everything of us,
c.) a vision of the the holy intimacy He’s calling us to,
d.) and a confidence in the supremacy of His mercy.

3. Radical Repentance “IS” messy. (Get used to it… We WANT to get used to it…)

4. Radical Repentance looks for nakedness, despising excuses…

5. Radical Repentance ALWAYS asks: “What is the eternal King of Glory worthy of?”

6. Radical Repentance takes time… often.

7. Radical Repentance is rooted to the voice of the HOLY Spirit unveiling the heart in the light of the Word…

8. Radical Repentance is one of the key signs of a sober and clear-eyed church, and/or House of Prayer in the hours of tribulation…

9. Radical Repentance is a life-style choice, not a two-hour annual event.

10. Radical Repentance is the way of Isaiah 40:3-5, and John the Baptist that prepares us for the return of the King.

11. Radical Repentance is a “Holy Spirit and me” thing that dares to get at the root of my “flesh-centered thinking”.

12. Radical Repentance winces at the mention of “our rights”.

13. Radical Repentance aims at “meekness”.

14. Radical Repentance always always always leads us to His cross and our own. Radical Repentance refuses to have one without the other.

15. Radical Repentance looks for shared ways and common avenues rather than narrow boundaries of separation and distinction… Simply put: It’s an “us” thing. Not a “them back then”, or “them over there” thing.

16. Radical Repentance is focused on and motivated by the increase of Jesus – not better religion.

17. Radical Repentance looks at the sin and darkness that plagues our culture and asks: “How are my thoughts, narratives, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, spirit and words contributing to this?”

18. Radical Repentance asks: “How do my thoughts, narratives, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors, spirit and words contribute to unbelief, adultery, lack of first-commandment love, insensitivity, hostility, murder, rebellion, superficial worship, idolatry and unrighteousness?”

19. Radical Repentance also asks: “Where am I more zealous to accuse others of unrighteousness than I am to surrender my whole self to repentance for the purpose of living in whole-hearted righteousness?”

20. Radical Repentance looks at abortion and asks: “How am I contributing to the discarding of human life?” Where am I aborting the Word of God? Where am I turning a blind eye to the pornification of women? Where am I insensitive to the distress of minority conditions? etc.”

21. Radical Repentance looks at gun violence and asks: “How am I contributing to a violent spirit in our culture? How do I turn a blind-eye to the madness in adolescent souls? How am I trusting in the power of a gun to keep me safe? How am I trusting in the power of laws to protect my society from demonic principalities? How am I allowing my rights to usurp my cross, and the beatitudes?”

22. Radical Repentance looks at sexual perversion and asks: “How am I contributing to sexual perversion in my culture? Where do I wink at pornographic content? Where do I excuse predatory sexual behavior? Where do I allow my sexual appetites to rule my relationship(s)? etc.”

23. Radical Repentance finds no cover in conspiracies. In fact, it knows that “conspiracy” is the alternate state to the spirit of repentance. In the face of judgment that falls upon the just and the unjust, Radical Repentance prays: “Father, see if there be any wicked way in me (Psalm 139:24); show me where I am hiding myself from Your holy analysis of my life in a lie or a conspiracy.”

24. Radical Repentance looks at the Sermon on the Mount and allows the Holy Spirit to scrutinize “self” in light of all 55 of Jesus’ injunctions.

25. Radical Repentance looks at the Father’s heart for Israel and asks, “Where is my perception of of Israel out of sync with Your heart for Israel? Where are my thoughts about Israel and Your purposes for Israel too rooted in the way of the flesh, and not established in the light and promise of Your Word?”

26. Radical Repentance looks at our lives of prayer and asks, “Where have I allowed myself, and my church to become impoverished in prayer? How is my life of prayer different than Jesus’ life of prayer? How am I neglecting Jesus’ exhortation for me to engage Him in the place of corporate intercession?”

27. Radical Repentance looks at Political Idolatry and asks: “Where am I looking for political power to accomplish what I should be investing in God to accomplish? Where have I shunned righteous circumspection that is opening my soul and the soul of my nation to real evil?”

28. Radical Repentance looks at Idolatrous Nationalism and asks: “Where do I believe and further a lie about our nation? Where do I not tolerate truth to be told and taught about our nation? What about my nation am I exalting higher than God does? Where have I sacrificed integrity to Jesus’ Kingdom in my attempts to make my nation greater? How have I expressed love for my nation more than my love for Jesus?”

29. Radical Repentance looks at Racial Hostility and asks: “How are my attitudes contributing toward racial animosity? How does what I say about my nation’s past hurt other people-groups, and further a righteous vision of nationhood more than the gracious nature of God? How am I failing to champion and celebrate God’s mercy, goodness and destiny re other ethnic groups?”

30. Radical Repentance is the only kind of repentance the Bride of Christ can afford in this hour.

31. We will only engage Radical SHUBV Repentance to the degree to which we behold the beauty and majesty of Jesus. He is the One worth burning our house down for.

If the Church in America hopes to fulfill our primary mandate; calling our curse-compounded world to prepare for the approaching reign of the King, now is the hour to fill our prayers, our worship gatherings, our ZOOM meetings and our conferences with Radical Repentance.

JSB • July 10, 2022


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