Repentance and the Way
God Calls Holy
Many are calling for prayer. To that message I would like to add a call to repentance as well. Indeed, 2 Chron 7:14 not only calls us to pray but to humble ourselves and aggressively turn away from sin. In that spirit, we then seek God’s face. There is far too much compromise among us. We need a breakthrough into brokenness. A move of God is coming, but it will only be as deep as our repentance prepares us.
The purpose of this message is to take us beyond simply feeling sorry we sinned. God wants to bring us into an attitude of repentance that persistently returns to Him until the fruit of righteousness comes forth in our lives.
The Bible tells us that prior to the beginning of Christ‘s ministry, “there came a man, sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). John the Baptist was sent from God. His baptism of repentance was not the last event of the old covenant to be completed; it was the first event, the ground breaker, of the new covenant. John was sent by God as a forerunner to Christ’s ministry. His unique purpose was to immerse Israel into an attitude of repentance (Acts 19:4). He was called to go before Christ. His task was to “prepare” and “make ready the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:2-3).
Some measure of repentance always precedes the coming forth of the living Christ in a person’s life. To “prepare” and “make ready” is the purpose of repentance. Let us be sure we understand: John’s repentance did not merely make men sorry, it made men ready.
True repentance is to turn over the soil of the heart for a new planting of righteousness or directives from God. It is a vital aspect in the overall sphere of spiritual maturity. To truly change your mind takes time and effort. John’s command to the Jews was to “bear fruit in keeping with your repentance” (Matt. 3:8).
Let us also realize that repentance is not over until fruit is brought forth. In effect, John was saying, “Cease not your turning away from pride until you delight in lowliness. Continue repenting of selfishness until love is natural to you. Do not stop mourning your impurities until you are pure.” He demanded men keep with repentance until fruit was manifested. And if you will be holy, you will continue in repentance until you are holy.
The apostle John tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Do not hide from your sins; confess them. God’s grace and the sacrifice of His Son are enough to cover and forgive any and every sin, but we must ask for forgiveness. We must humble ourselves and, from the heart, submit again to God. Be honest about your sin and He will cleanse you of it.
An exhortation: persist in your repentance, never doubting the generosity of God’s mercy. If God commands us to forgive unconditionally those who sin against us (Matt. 18:21-22), know that God does not require of us more than He demands of Himself. If you sin 490 times in one day, after each time cry to Him for forgiveness. He will both forgive you and cleanse you of sin’s effect.
During one period in my life I repeatedly stumbled over the same problem. Grieved and doubting in my heart, I cried out, “Lord! how long will you put up with me?” In a flash of grace and truth He answered, “Until I have perfected you.”
The Scriptures tell us, “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Prov. 6:23 KJV). This is not burdensome except to those who refuse correction. The way of reproof is the way of life! Jesus said, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19). It is not God’s wrath that speaks to us of repentance; it is His lovingkindness. We have been promised, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). As long as we desire to be like Him, His rebuke will be a door into His presence.
If, however, you recoil at the word repentance, it is because you do not want to change. You need this message. When the thought of repentance is not shrouded in gloomy images of sackcloth and tears, when correction inspires rejoicing and shouts of praise to God’s grace, know that your spirit has truly become pure. It is at this point you are walking the way God calls holy.
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The preceding message is adapted from a chapter in Francis’ book, Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God Published by Charisma House.
This book as well as selected audio and video companions are available at www.arrowbookstore.com