The Two Baggies
John Plunkett
April 13, 2012
(Last Day of Unleavened Bread)

I hate baggies!  (I think their proper name is “zip-lock bags”).  I am not very dexterous, so I have problems opening and closing the nasty things.


But most Christians are like baggies.  Or rather it is like we have baggies inside of us – like we have had two baggies inside of us since our birth.  These are two baggies in which we collect various bits and pieces. 


Baggie Number 1 is where we store what we have done.  Specifically, what we have done wrong – in other words, where we store our sins.


Baggie Number 2 is where we collect and store what we are.  This would include our life history, our experiences, our desires, our preferences – that kind of thing.


First of all let us take a quick peak into Baggie Number 1.  Before our conversion, this is where we stored our sins. If you will excuse me for mixing my metaphors, it is like a negative kind of bank account.  We could call it a “guilt account,” in which we accrue our un-confessed and un-repented-of sins – plus interest! 


We may have not realized this back then; but God certainly did.  Once we were brought to realize our need to repent, and we did repent, then God, through the amazing sacrifice of Jesus Christ, emptied Baggie Number 1 for us.  At the same time, He made a huge 100% withdrawal from our “guilt account.”  But to our dismay, the baggie soon began to fill up again!  We quickly learned that confession and repentance are not just one time requirements, and that repentance is not just done annually, prior to the Feast of Passover; but rather, it is an ongoing, daily necessity.  Confession and repentance are needed every day of our lives. 


I’m sure that you will remember what repentance is.  It is not just being sorry.  It is not just saying that we are sorry when we have done something wrong.  Repentance is turning around 180 degrees in the opposite direction from the way that we were walking previously; and from then on walking in a new direction.


Each year during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and especially on the last Day of Unleavened Bread, we learn about the need to come out of sin completely.  We are to leave spiritual Egypt behind us.  That is what the day is all about. 


This might come as a surprise for you, but God says that completely confessing and repenting of our past sins is not enough!  Repenting of the things that we have done is not enough! 


This is where Baggie Number 2 comes in.  Gradually, as time goes by, we also need to empty Baggie Number 2.  I am not talking about emptying ourselves of our human experiences and that kind of thing; but of our very humanity itself!  Now I am not advocating mass suicide.  Of course not.  But, as well as repenting of what we have done, we must also repent of what we are. We have all heard this before in our years in God’s church, I am sure.  Bit I must be honest; I really didn’t know what it meant, until recently.


This is what I would like to discuss today.  There are many scriptures that tell us the importance of repenting of what we have done.  Of course there are!  But also, there are a surprisingly large number of scriptures that tell us that we must repent of what we are.


What does it mean to repent of what we are?  How can we repent of what we are?  We are human beings.  How can we repent of being human beings?  How can we change that?  We can’t!  But God can!  And God will, if we will just cooperate with Him and work together with Him on this ongoing, lifelong project.


Our first scripture was given by the apostle Peter in his sermon on the feast of Pentecost:

Acts 3:19:  Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Right here, he is telling us that we are to be converted – that we are to be changed from what we were before our conversion – to something different.  If we continue doing the same things as we did before our conversion, then we are not really converted, are we?  If we continue doing the same things as we did before our conversion, then our conversion didn’t take!


Romans 12:2:  And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 Yes, we’re going to be talking about perfection today.  And yes, we must be transformed into something different to what we were before God called us. We must be transformed into something different from the people of this world.  Again, if we are not changed from what we were before, or if we are only slightly changed from what we were before, then we are not truly transformed.


If we must repent of what we are and become something else, what is it that we must become?


Acts 11:18:  When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, “Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life.”

This is a very interesting phrase: “repentance to life.”  We can ask the question: “Don’t we already have life?”  Well, yes – kind of!  What we’ve actually been given by God – or rather loaned for a couple of years – is what Church of God minister Lyle Greaves used to accurately call “temporary, chemical existence.”  It’s true!  But, when we truly repent of what we have been – what we are – then we are repenting of our old, inferior, temporary, chemical existence, and we begin moving towards real life.  That real life is God life.  We could rightly translate Luke’s Greek words here as “repentance toward life.”


Acts 20:21: Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

 This is another very interesting and relevant phrase: “repentance toward God.”  We can look at this phrase in two different ways.  We can look at it with a kind of surface interpretation, and then we can look at it more deeply and literally.


Let’s first look at the surface interpretation.  When we repent toward God, we acknowledge our sins and we acknowledge that our sins are primarily toward God.  Sin is the transgression of the law – God’s law (I John 3:4).  So it follows that repentance of sin must also be towards God. 


Now let us look at the deeper – probably more literal – interpretation.  When we completely repent of what we are as well as what we have done, we start moving toward God and being like God; we start moving toward being members of the God Family; we start moving towards being God.


Hebrews 6:1 ¶ Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

The word “unto” here comes from the little Greek word “epi,” which means “toward.”  We are to be repenting from our dead works and moving, in faith, toward God the Father and Jesus Christ, and toward their perfection.  (We will read more about perfection later).  We must be literally moving toward full, born membership in the God Family.  Not just being begotten, as we are now; but eventually to be born as full members in the God Family.


We might think of some of our old, dead works.  Some of them may not have been so very bad – not so very sinful.  Some of our old, dead works may not have been sinful at all – just dead and useless – just neutral, human works – neither bad nor good – just things that we have done in our lives.  But as we repent of what we are, God starts to move us further away from all of our dead works and closer toward Him – toward meaningful, profitable works of life.  That would include, of course, increased participation in the true work of God in His church. 


Here is what the apostle Paul said to Herod Agrippa:

Acts 26:19-20:  Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision:  but showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

This is basically the same concept – just worded a little differently.  It is talking about repenting; turning toward God; moving toward God and His works of life because we are now begotten God Family members and because we are becoming fully God.  What a concept, we are becoming God! 


But this concept of “repenting of what we are” is not specifically a New Testament one.  Let’s go all of the way back to the beginning because God commanded this very thing of His chosen ones way back in the book of Genesis:


Genesis 17:1:  And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said to him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.

The Hebrew word for “before me” is “paniym.”  It can be translated as “toward me”  Hence the LORD may have said, “walk toward me.”  Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for “be thou perfect” is “taniym.  So we have “paniym” and “taniym” together.  “Taniym” can be translated as “become thou perfect.”  So the Eternal may have told Abram, “Walk toward me and become thou perfect.” 


But, because perfection is pure goodness, isn’t perfection impossible for anybody but God?  Didn’t Jesus Christ say, in Matthew 19, “There is none good but One, that is God”?  Yes, of course.  So then, was God asking Abram to do the impossible? 

Later, He asked the same thing of the fledgling nation of


Deuteronomy 18:13:  You shall be perfect with the LORD your God.

 This is an interesting addition.  The LORD wanted the Israelites to become perfect – with Himself.  He wanted them to become one – with Him and His Father as God Family members.  The Old Testament scriptures often repeat the concept of repenting from our old, imperfect, human selves and so becoming perfect, and becoming God.  Here is yet another example from King Solomon at the dedication of the first temple.


I Kings 8:61:  Let your heart therefore be perfect with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.

Again, we ask the question: “Can God’s people really become perfect?”  Well, Solomon thought so.  And so did his father, David:


Psalms 101:6:  My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

 According to King David, and his son King Solomon, part of a person’s progress toward becoming perfect would include serving God, walking in His statutes and striving to keep His Commandments.


But even with God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us, even with Jesus Christ dwelling within us, we are still human.  Because we are still human, perfection is a progressive journey.  Jesus Christ and God the Father, the Ones who define goodness and perfection,  tie this fact down solidly:


Matthew 5:48:  Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

This is probably the most difficult Commandment in the whole Bible for us to keep!  This is a command from the only totally good and perfect human being who ever lived.  But is it a reasonable command or an impossible task?  Was it reasonable for Jesus Christ to expect His disciples, and us as well, to be perfect – and especially as perfect as God the Father?  Perfection does not come any more perfect!


The Greek word that Jesus used here for “be” is “esomai”: the future tense of the verb ‘eimi’ which is the Greek word for “to be.”  It is usually translated in most places in the New Testament as “shall be” or “will be.”  So please note that it is in the future tense. 


Jesus states in other places, too, that it really is possible for us to become – or to be becoming – perfect as God the Father is perfect:


Luke 6:40:  The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

Again, “shall be” here is translated from “esomai” – future tense!  So again, we are to be becoming perfect, just like our Master, and like the Father of our Master.


Our next scripture gives us the amazing aspect of Jesus’ relationship with God the Father, how we are involved, and how we are brought into that oneness, that unity, that Family relationship, and the very perfection of it:


John 17:11:  Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you.  Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are...

Jesus wanted His disciples and all of us to be one with them in their Family.

Verses 21-23:  That they all may be one, as you, Father, are in me, and I in you; that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.  And the glory which you gave me I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one:  I in them, and you in me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me.

As human beings we find these things so difficult to comprehend.  They are wonderful words!  God the Father is in Jesus.  And God the Father is in Jesus’ brothers and sisters.  And vice-versa.  Jesus Christ and His Father want us, not just to be like them; but to be one with them.  Jesus and His Father want us to become perfect with them and to become members of their Family – the God Family.  Jesus Christ and God the Father want us to become God!


So, with the aid of God’s Spirit, we must be working and growing toward them now.  But still, we know that we will only achieve full perfection at the time of the First Resurrection.


There are many professing Christians who claim that, because Jesus was perfect and because human beings have a great difficulty in being perfect, that Jesus somehow magically did it all for us, and that He accomplished perfection in our stead.  But did He?  Could this be true?


II Corinthians 13:11:   Finally, brethren, farewell.  Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

The Greek term for “be perfect” is a different word than “esomai teleios” as used in Matthew 5:48.  Here Paul uses the verb “katartizo.”  The context and the verb itself show us that this is something that we must be working on now.  “Katartizo” means “to make perfect,” “to mend,” “to restore,” “to fit,” “to frame” and “to complete.”  In a nutshell, it means that we are to be working on our own perfection – in the same way that the Apostle Paul repeats here to the brethren in Philippi:


Philippians 2:12:  Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;

 Yes.  We need to be working out our own salvation.  We need to be actively doing something to work on our own perfection.


Do I think that I am perfect?  No!  Obviously not!  Did the apostle Paul think that he was perfect?  Did he think that he was already born again – fully?  Let him answer these questions for himself:


Philippians 3:11-15:  If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as be perfect… {or “are becoming perfect”!}… be thus minded: and if in any thing you be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

 Like Paul, we need to be working towards it.  We need to be going forward – not continually living life in the rear view mirror!  We must forget the things that are in the past – repenting of them and putting them in the past.


Here is yet another proof that full, total, complete perfection as born-again God Family members is still yet in the future:


Hebrews 11:39-40:  And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

 You and me, brethren, along with the heroes of faith that we read about in Hebrews 11 – “the dead in Christ” we call them – will be made fully perfect at a future time – at the time of the First Resurrection.  At that time, our repentance from what we are will be complete.


Hebrews 13:20-21:  Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.

 This gives the idea of a work in progress – which is exactly what we all are!  God the Father is “the God of peace” mentioned here.  He will make us perfect through Jesus Christ and through their Holy Spirit dwelling in us.  Only partially now – because we are still human.  But totally then – because we will have become “the second of the Firstborn.”

Jesus Christ is the First of Firstborn.  He is the Firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:15-18; Romans 8:29).  We are the “the second of the Firstborn” or “the subsequent Firstborn.”  We are coming to be almost identical twins with the First of the Firstborn!


God commands us to be doing our part and to be working toward God-ship with every ounce of our energy.  Whatever we lack, God says He will make up for it.  God will make up for our shortcomings if we continue to give everything we’ve got.

Let’s think about images:

Colossians 1:13-15:  Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

 Although this appears to be in the past tense, all of these things are attributed to us.  God assumes that we are going to finish the race, that we will keep going, and that we are not going to give up.

Please allow me to repeat verse 15 and let me switch the phrases a little – just so the grammar comes out better:

Who (referring to God’s dear Son) is the firstborn of every creature, and the image of the invisible God (the Father).

 Our next verse is referring to Jesus’ many brethren:


Romans 8:29:  For whom He (the Father) foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (His Son – Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren.

 So we have two verses here, showing that Jesus Christ is the very image of God the Father and that our image – that of the “many brethren” – is to look more and more like that of Jesus Christ.  


As Jesus Christ was – and is – the image of God the Father – and vice-versa – we are to become increasingly so like our Elder Brother that we will eventually become virtual images of Him.  Yes, more and more each day; then ultimately and completely once we are born again:


I Corinthians 15:49:  And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

II Corinthians 3:18:  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.

 The apostle Paul is talking about a change here.  The change that Paul mentions comes in two stages.  The first stage is our initial transfer from what we were before our conversion to what we are now.  What are we now?  We are post-conversion, human Christians – still imperfect and still on the road to becoming perfect.

The second stage – the second part of our change – is our ultimate, final and total change and repentance from what we are now to what we will be then.  In II Corinthians
3:18 quoted above, Paul mentions “from glory to glory.”  This applies to us.  We are going from the lesser glory of “begotten-again” Christian human beings who are still awaiting our spiritual birth and inheritance.  We are going to the much brighter and far superior glory of being true, fully born-again members of the God Family.  At that time we will have received our inheritance completely.


Colossians 3:8-10:  But now you also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him:

 When we put off the deeds of the old man (anger, wrath, malice, etc.) and we put on the deeds of the new man, we are emptying Baggy Number 1.  We are repenting from what we have done. 


When we put off the old man himself and put on the new man himself, then we are emptying Baggy Number 2.  We are repenting from what we are.


Please think about a baby in the womb.  When a human baby emerges from the womb he actually – in effect – is repenting of what he previously was.  He was a fetus before; and at birth he becomes a fully-born, post-partum human baby.  Previously, while he was in the womb as a fetus, he was begotten, but not yet born.  A fetus in the womb is certainly not stagnant or inactive.  He is growing, feeding and even exercising.  He is theoretically working towards his actual birth. 


In Colossians 1:18, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ is the Firstborn from the dead.  In Romans 8:29, he tells us that Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of many brethren.  Jesus is our forerunner (Hebrews 6:20), and He is our perfect example (John 13:15; I Peter 2:21).  He did it first, and we are to emulate Him (I Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1). 


Believe it or not, brethren, Jesus Christ repented!  Yes, the perfect, sinless Jesus Christ – the very Son of God – repented!  He did not repent of what He had done.  He did not repent of the sins that He had committed, of course, because He did not commit any.  But He did repent of what He was.  He repented of what He had been for thirty-three years.  At the time that He was born again as the Firstborn from the dead, He repented of being a human being.


Every day we must confess, repent, ask God to empty our Baggy Number 1, and to forgive our sins – to forgive us of what we have done.  But every day we must also ask God to gradually empty our Baggy Number 2 and to move us from our imperfect human state as His begotten children, to full birth and full membership in the God Family.


Let us close with the wonderful words of the apostle of love:


I John 3:2:  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as he is.