460. RENUNCIATION AND RESTITUTION. Core Teaching Stage 5 Topic 2

On Friday 11th December 1936 people throughout the world were surprised to read or hear these words, “King Edward VIII has renounced the Throne, and will be succeeded by the Duke of York.” That followed a conversation between the King and the Prime Minister where the King said to the Prime Minister, “I am going to marry Mrs Simpson, and I am prepared to go.” He was succeeded by his brother Albert, who became George VI and Edward married Mrs Simpson the following year.

So the people of that generation came to know what “to renounce” meant.  It meant giving up something that one possessed. However, renunciation is also a Christian term and has the same meaning of giving up something that belongs to one.

THE MEANING OF “RENOUNCE”

The Cambridge Dictionary definition is  “to say formally or publicly that you no longer own, support, believe in or have a connection with something. “

True repentance involves renunciation in turning to God from those sins, activities or wrong relationships and renouncing them, wanting nothing more to do with them. 

BIBLE VERSES CONTAINING “RENOUNCE”.  A QUICK SUMMARY OF BIBLE VERSES

Psalm 10:3, “For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul, and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.” [ nā’aṣ: A verb meaning to revile, to scorn, to reject.] Rejection of God is the characteristic of those who want to live their lives on their own terms.

Psalm 10:13, Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, “You will not call to account?”[ Same Hebrew word as in verse 3.]

Psa. 89:39, “You have renounced the covenant with your servant; you have defiled his crown in the dust.”[ nā’ar: A verb indicating to renounce, to spurn, to abandon.] It means to reject something or someone in word and in deed. To Ethan, the writer of this Psalm, “there was no other explanation than that God had gone back on His promise to David and dragged his crown in the dust. Ethan knew deep in his heart that God couldn’t renege on His promise, and yet from all appearances it had happened.” [Believers Bible Commentary].

Prov 28:13, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” [Hebrew is ‘azab, to loosen, i.e. relinquish, forsake, leave, refuse] sins and no longer to do them.

Ezek 14:6, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” [ shuwb, to turn back (break, recall, recompense, recover, refresh, repent, requite, rescue, restore, retrieve, (cause to return, reverse, reward, withdraw). Coupled with repentance in turning from idols and evil practices.

Dan 4:27, “Therefore, O king, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed.” [peraq, to discontinue:–break off.]  Turning from sin and living differently

Luke 14:33, “So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” The word for ”renounce” here is [apotassomai]  made up of apo=from or away and [tassō]  a verb (meaning to arrange in an orderly manner, to appoint or determine. The combined word can mean to bid farewell, forsake, take leave, send away. True discipleship meant being willing to give up everything one possesses if God requires us to do so.

2 Cor 4:2, “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” [Apeipon, literally, to tell from, signifies to renounce, disowning “the hidden things of shame.”] In renouncing evil to turn from the negative (sin) and live positively.” The word [apeipomēn from apo = from and  epo = to speak] means to say off for oneself, to give up or  disown. 2 Cor 4:2. Paul was saying that the believers had given up “disgraceful, underhanded ways.”

Tit. 2:12, “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”[ arneomai, to contradict, i.e. disavow, reject, abnegate, deny, refuse.] Forsaking sin to live godly lives under control.

RENUNCIATION IN BAPTISMAL SERVICES

In An Australian Prayer Book [AAPB] the question is asked of those to be baptised, “ Do you renounce the devil and all his works, the empty display and false values of the world and the sinful desires of the flesh so that you will not follow nor be led by them?“ That is, “Are you willing to renounce the devil, the world and the flesh.” That stands for the enemy against us [the devil], the enemy within us [the flesh or our fallen nature]  and the enemy around us [the unbelieving world]. 

“Renounce” can mean to forsake or to reject the influence of something or someone on oneself in the past, present and future.

We look at those in turn.

1]. RENOUNCE THE WORLD. [The enemy around us.]

The peoples of the world by and large reject God and His values. 

The world rejects His revealed will in His word. 

The world is focussed on self. Self-focus. Self-realisation, self-fulfilment, my rights, The new narcissism which describes a pattern of behaviour in which an individual shows such behaviours as excessive grandiosity, attention-seeking, and sensitivity to being rejected or ignored.

The sin of the world. Rejection of God’s rule over every area of life. The sin of not believing, as Jesus taught about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me.” Jn 16:8-9. 

Its negative friendship. James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” To be in love with the things of the world rather than being in love with God amounts to hatred of Him in God’s eyes.

Paul commanded the believers in Rome to not let themselves be conformed to the world, but to allow themselves to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Rom 12:2. Or in the graphic words of the JB Phillips version, “Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mould.” It is so easy to be influenced by the world around us to adopt its thinking and its values which are contrary to what God demands of His followers.

2]. RENOUNCE THE FLESH. [The enemy within us.]

All humans have a fallen human nature which has a bias towards evil. 

It is predisposed towards rebellion against God and leads to sinful behaviour. 

Its desires are contrary to those of the Holy Spirit in us. Paul wrote, Rom 8:5-8, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

No matter how nice people might appear to be, if they don’t have faith in Christ they cannot please God.

There is an internal spiritual battle taking place in every believer, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Gal 5:17. 

There are the temptations and lusts coming from our flesh nature, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown, brings forth death.“ James 1:13-15.

We can renounce our flesh nature by seeking to be filled with God’s Holy Spirit who can give us victory over the lusts and desires of the flash

3]. RENOUNCE THE DEVIL. [The enemy against us.]

  • The devil is the father of lies and is deceitful. Jesus said to his listeners, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.“ Jn 8:44.
  • He wants to control the world and everything in it. St Paul reminded his readers in Ephesus of what their lives were like before they became believers, “in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” Eph 2:2. Satan is called a prince because he is a ruler and possesses power to manifest evil in the world through influencing people and commanding demons.
  • St Peter spoke of God’s action in Christ in setting free those who were oppressed by the devil, “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” Acts 10:38.
  • St Paul encouraged Timothy in his ministry to the opponents of Jesus, “and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” 2 Tim 2:26. Unbelievers are under the control of the devil.
  • Jesus came into the world as a human to set humans free, “Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.“ Heb 2:14-15. Christ has defeated the devil through his victory on the cross, Col 2:15 “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.”

SOME AREAS OF LIFE WHERE RENUNCIATION MAY BE NECESSARY

We need to realise that God requires that everything in our lives should come under His direction, including our words, our speech and our actions.

A].      THE DEVIL AND FALSE RELIGIONS

  • The devil wants everyone to worship him. He tempts people who want to gain more power in life by promising them power by participation in the Occult and the New Age etc. But trying to take hold of this promise of power brings one under the power of the evil one. 
  • There are also the temptations of other non-Christian religions. They are not committed to Jesus who alone is THE TRUTH and so are false. 
  • In these other religions, Jesus is not central but He is in Yahweh’s purposes.

B].       VOWS OR STATEMENTS THAT MAY NEED TO BE RENOUNCED

Vows that have been made in the past may need to be renounced. 

a]. Vows made about us by those walking in darkness.  Many people have asked to be set free from the vows made about them by former family members in the occult, or vows made about them in the Masonic movement.

b]. Inviting disaster upon oneself. For example, “May this happen to me if that were to occur!”

c]. Wanting disaster on others. “They deserve punishment for their attitude to me and to my loved ones! I hope they suffer!”

d]. Vows we made about ourselves that we should not have made. “I think I’d have a nervous breakdown if that were to happen!”

e]. Ongoing Negative Confessions. 

We look more closely at such statements

a].       Vows Made About Us By Those Walking In Darkness

For example, forbears involved in secret societies and the vows they made which include family members. (“May these things happen to my family if I reveal the secrets.”)

b].       Inviting Disaster Upon Oneself

  • “A curse be upon my family if that were to happen.” For example, a marriage to one of our family members to someone of the wrong “clan” or family. 
  • OR “Over my dead body”. We say would we would rather be dead if that course of events were to happen. OR “I will do everything in my power to stop that from happening, even if it kills me in the process.”
  • OR “I’d rather die than forgive that person who hurt me so badly.”

c].       Wanting Disaster On Others

Negative statements such as these:-

“May some disaster overtake them!”

“ I hope they rot in hell! “

“I wish they would drop dead!”

“I hope they fail!”

“I will never, ever forgive that person, and I hope they get their just desserts”

d].       Vows We Made About Ourselves Which We Should Not Have Made

  • “I will not let anyone get close enough to hurt me again”. (I found helpful the writings of John Powell who wrote a book with the title, “Why Am I Afraid To Tell You Who I Am.” He wrote that once we have been hurt deeply, we don’t want to go through the same experience again. So we close down our emotions and fail to open up to other people lest we experience rejection again. 

After I had spoken at an evening meeting in a small town in  New Zealand, a beautiful young woman approached me saying, “I think I need to repent of a vow I made some years ago.” It turned out that she had been through a very hurtful relationship and vowed that she would never let anyone get close enough to her ever again to hurt her. She had had friendships with some lovely young Christian men but those relationships never went anywhere and she wondered why. During the meeting she remembered the vow she had made and now saw the need to repent of it and to renounce it. She did so and I prayed she would be open to any relationship the Lord brought across her path. Her vow had closed her to any possibility of a deeper relationship.

  • “I will never forgive them!” That is an understandable reaction when someone has hurt us very deeply. But God has commanded us to forgive one another, as St Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Vowing never to forgive someone is to be disobedient to God’s command, and holds us in negativity.

  • Any vow we make without consulting God is an ungodly vow and needs to be renounced.

e}. .    Ongoing Negative Confessions

It is so easy to be captured by our words which are “a snare to our souls”. Proverbs 18:7, “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul.”

  • For example, statements such as, “ I could never do that, I’m too dumb.”

OR “I could never cope if that were to happen to me!”

OR “I find it too difficult to befriend people.”

Or “I don’t think those people would ever accept me.”

Or “I’m useless and will never amount to anything.”

All these negative confessions are a barrier to the grace of God coming into our lives to transform us.

G].      RENOUNCING, REJECTING FORMER UNGODLY LIFESTYLES AND PRACTICES

Some people may need to make restitution of what was wrongly or falsely taken. 

Others may need to attempt to restore personal dignity or reputation to people they ignored, used or abused by apologising to them and asking for their forgiveness. They were not just objects that were misused. Rather, they are people who have been deeply hurt and need healing. 

A BRIEF NOTE ON RESTITUTION.  

The Cambridge Dictionary definition is ”the return of objects that were stolen or lost.”

The Miriam Webster Dictionary suggests 

an act of restoring or a condition of being restored: such as

a: a restoration of something to its rightful owner

b: a making good of or giving an equivalent for some injury

But the word is also used in the Bible. [15 occurrences in the NRSV Bible version.]

What is involved in restitution is the justice of restoring the value of something that was taken or destroyed by a person who was not its owner. 

Examples in the Old Testament include:-

a]. Paying back someone for stealing, injuring or destroying an animal or possession they owned.

Exo 22:1 “When someone steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, the thief shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. The thief shall make restitution, but if unable to do so, shall be sold for the theft.”

Exo 22:5  “When someone causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets livestock loose to graze in someone else’s field, restitution shall be made from the best in the owner’s field or vineyard.”

Exo 22:6  When fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, the one who started the fire shall make full restitution.

b].  When the death of an animal or of a person occurred, restitution was necessary.

Lev 24:18 “Anyone who kills an animal shall make restitution for it, life for life.”

Lev 24:21 “One who kills an animal shall make restitution for it; but one who kills a human being shall be put to death.”

Zacchaeus in the New Testament

The story is recorded in Luke’s gospel about Jesus noticing Zacchaeus up in a tree where he was trying to get a better view of Jesus.  19:5 ‘And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6  So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.’

However, Zacchaeus was well known to bystanders who said of Jesus, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” Luke 19:7. Zacchaeus responded to their comment by expressing to Jesus his willingness to make restitution, even to paying back fourfold anyone he had defrauded, “Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 19:8. 

QUESTIONS FOR US TO ANSWER REGARDING RENUNCIATION

Have we personally renounced the things we need to renounce? As we reflect on our lives, can we remember vows that we once made that seemed reasonable at the time but now appear to have been inappropriate or offensive to other people? If so, we need to renounce them and pray that any damage caused, is healed.

Have there been words we said, actions we took or attitudes we adopted that have had a negative impact on ourselves or on other people? If the Lord brings them back into our memories, we need to ask His forgiveness and perhaps seek the forgiveness of people we hurt. 

Have we a present philosophy towards life that is counter-productive to what is best for us in God’s eyes? For example,  the attitude, “I’m determined to get to the top of the tree and it doesn’t matter who I have to step over to get there!” Such an attitude is an ungodly vow that is destructive to all those around us. 

Are there present or past relationships that cause you from being available to the Lord to be used by Him? Some relationships may need to be renounced if they are not of the Lord. 

Have we a desire for certain things that leave us ungrateful for what we have at the moment? We need to remember that when our desire for a certain object [or person] is paramount in our minds, we have made that thing or that person into an idol that needs to be renounced. 

William Cowper had some wise words to say about the idols in our lives in his famous hymn “O for a Closer walk with God.” He wrote, 

“The dearest idol I have known
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from Thy throne
And worship only Thee. “

Praise God that He gives us the grace to recognise and then to renounce what we are meant to renounce in our lives.

Blog No.460 posted on Sunday 22 January 2023.

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Glorification, Healing, HEALING MINISTRY Core Teaching, Holy Spirit, Justification, Mental Health, Prayer, Real Life Stories, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare, Temptations and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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