27 July 2011

Repentance: More than you think

Repentance may not be our most favourite topic, but it is in fact an essential one that every person needs to firmly understand…

Sin is a serious matter and has many consequences. It is failure to live up to God’s standards of righteous living, and separates us from Him and His goodness. It smears the image of God within us and sends us down a path of destruction.

To live a lifestyle of sin believing you’ll never get caught is to live in deception. Scripture warns: Be sure your sin will find you out (Josh. 7:19).

Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

As Christians, repentance is a topic we need to talk about. Repentance is not just a one off event at salvation, but a lifestyle throughout all seasons of life. A man can never change until he admits he is wrong and needs help.

All of us will experience days of private and public failure – either accidently, unintentionally or willfully. Sin is a choice we must take personal responsibility for. Through our own sinful behaviour we make our own major contributions to life’s pain and misery.

Matthew 5:29-30 So if your eye causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away … And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell…

Jesus gave us a strong analogy about the need to remove all sin from our lives. This is because all sin must be destroyed to a Holy God. It affects not just ourselves but all of our relationships. In the Bible there are tragic stories of entire families, tribes and nations who were destroyed because of an individual’s sin and wickedness.

Psalms 51:1; 4 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions … Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak & justified when you judge

However, despite all this, we serve a gracious God whose mercy is new every day, and abundant in forgiveness. This is only available to us through the POWER of personal repentance.

All sin is best described as a fist… and its object is the face of God - Anonymous

“Repent… the Kingdom of God is near!”

Mark 1:14-15 Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come”, he said. “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus did not come from Heaven to Earth so that we stop a few bad habits. It is no surprise that at the start of Jesus’, John the Baptist's, Peter’s and Paul’s ministries, they all began with preaching repentance. Sin has separated all people from a Holy God and only when we repent from sinning, can we have our relationship restored.

Repentance comes from our conscience which tells us we have done wrong and failed in our personal morals and beliefs. Because of our sinful nature, repentance is often the hardest command for any man to perform. Put simply: It is taking sides with God against yourself! This does not come easily. It tests the power of the will more than anything else. But it is possible…

We must first clear up a few misunderstandings of what repentance is not. The following are words that we often mistake with repentance:

1) Disappointment - An uneasy feeling or pang of conscience as to conduct;
2) Guilt - A sudden feeling of apprehensive uneasiness, sincere remorse;
3) Apology - Sorrow and anger for one’s personal sin, even with a desire to change;
4) Remorse - Deep and painful feelings for wrongdoing, tears and sadness;
5) Regret - The state of being regretful for one's wrongdoing, moral anguish and bitter regret.

As you can see, all of those are in no way repenting – stopping the behaviour and leaving it for good. These are all ‘feelings’ which can eventually lead to ‘a place’ of repentance. Repentance is far greater than saying sorry or feeling guilty. Saying sorry is simply being caught, feeling bad, admitting you have done wrong, saying you have a desire to change - but not truly repent of your behaviour…

Repentance: Not for the wimpy but the Courageous!

1 Peter 4:4 Of course, your former friends are [very] surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do. So they slander you

Repentance can cost us friends, our finances, comfort, convenience, lifestyle habits and more. But it is to choose the narrow path of eternal life over the wide path of destruction. When Jesus gave His message of repentance, He was loud and clear – repent or perish (Luke 13:5).

Sin is a great thief and steals especially our peace, joy, confidence and faith. Sin stains our inner condition and ruins our character. It destroys all the good within us and we become degenerate after years of sinful behaviour, leading to ‘total depravity’ – beyond help.

The word of God is a mirror and shows us our true condition. God reveals His standards of living which are good, pleasing and perfect ways leading to Heaven. Anything less is not from God and is a lie of the enemy.
For every sin you commit is a lie you first believed. Sin is by nature deceiving and an evil master. It is not a friend but a constant enemy that seeks to destroy your life. Even celebrities are not immune to the devastating power of sin, which can soon get out of control and destroy our lives and reputations forever...

Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses … I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Repentance: The True Definition

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you

True repentance is separation, departure and a complete 180 degree turn in the opposite direction of one’s sinful ways. It is to change one’s mind, will and heart, to think differently or reconsider one’s ways. Repentance is not a feeling, it is an action.

True repentance is saying “You are right God and I am wrong. Help me to change and give me a new heart and mind to overcome this area in my life… Forever.” True repentance is that you are never the same again.

In all truth, we have not truly repented until we have stopped sinning in a particular area for good. A good indication of repentance is godly sorrow of evil behaviour that results in a changed life. By submitting yourself to God’s Lordship and complete control over every area of your life, you are showing repentance, the actual stopping of the sin. Let’s now look at the six essential steps to repentance:

1) Confess – to others and God
2) Repent – speak out and make a decision to stop
3) Trust in God – Believe God is BIGGER!
4) Reject False Guilt – No condemnation
5) Rebuke the devil – Bind, rebuke, and expose the enemy
6) Restitution – Apologise, pay back, return stolen goods

By repenting of sins now means we won't have to deal with them later when they are out of control and destroying our lives. Break the chains of anything that is holding you back in life. It might just save your life one day...

Final Thoughts

Galatians 6:24 Those who belong to Christ have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires

There is always another level of surrender, confession and repentance we can go. There is great power in confession and repentance. Accountability shines light in the darkness and reduces its stronghold over our life. Repentance says ‘NO’ to sin, the flesh and wickedness and ‘YES’ to God, the Spirit and Righteousness.

Repentance is ESSENTIAL because if we deal with our personal sins now, we won’t have to deal with them in the future when it’s out of control. Repentance shows us our true condition and how far we are from a Perfect and Holy God. Finally, repentance is the doorway, Faith is the living room. Don’t stay there. Deal with it and move on into everything God has called you to be!

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise … but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance