GLMX #200: “Repentance,” the Movie, and the Gospel

A shot from "Repentance"
A shot from “Repentance”

Recently, I had the opportunity to watch the movie, “Repentance”, starring Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, and Sanaa Lathan. This psychological thriller was originally titled “Vipaka”, which is a Buddhist term for karma — the idea that we reap what we sow and the need for repentance to make things right.

In the film, Thomas Carter (played by Anthony Mackie) is a life coach and a jack-leg psychologist who became popular from a bestselling book that he wrote after his experience in a car wreck five years before. A man, Angel Sanchez (played by Forest Whitaker), is deeply troubled by the “untimely,” strange death of his mother which, unbeknownst to us at the beginning of the film, Thomas and his brother, Ben (played by Mike Epps), have something to do with. Angel goes to Thomas for counseling to help him come to terms with the death of his mother.

Somehow, Angel becomes convinced that Thomas has something to do with the death of his mother.

One day, Thomas visits Angel’s home to tell him that he was going to leave for a while and that he needed to seek counseling from someone else. Angel reacts negatively, ties Thomas up, and kidnaps Thomas’ wife and his brother, Ben. Angel begins torturing Thomas to get him to confess the sins of his past, sometimes comically using Thomas’ own teachings from his book against him. Angel, of course, is waiting for Thomas to confess his involvement in his mother’s death. Thomas begins confessing every sin that he can think of until he gets to the one that apparently relieves Angel’s burden.

The lesson of this film reminds us of a Biblical truth — “be sure your sin will find you out.” Every wrong thing that we do, no matter how well we think we may have hidden it, will eventually be brought out into the open. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Jesus Christ also said in Luke 12:2-3, “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

As the original title of the movie suggests, each of us will eventually have to face up to our sins and suffer the consequences for what we have done. Some of these consequences will be physical and temporal — for example, going to jail for a period of time for robbing someone, or paying a fine for speeding. Other consequences are spiritual and eternal. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.” If we die in our sins, we will also suffer eternal punishment in Hell unless we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Revelation 21:8 says, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

We may not be able to avoid the physical and temporal consequences of our sins, however, we can avoid the eternal consequences of our sins. God does not want any of His creation to go to Hell and be separated from Him forever. (The Bible says that “God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”) He made a way for us to escape that punishment. He wants us to repent and trust Jesus Christ as our Savior. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth. Jesus lived a perfect life while He was on Earth and willingly went to the cross to die for all of our sins. On the cross, God poured out His wrath on His Son so that He would not have to pour it out on us.

On that cross, Jesus Christ died a death that we should have died and paid a debt that we should have paid but never could have paid. Because of His sacrifice, we do not have to suffer the eternal consequences of our sins in Hell which we deserve.

What DO we have to do?
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