True Repentance

Judges 10:15-16 “And the children of Israel said unto the LORD, We have sinned: do thou unto us whatsoever seemeth good unto thee; deliver us only, we pray thee, this day. And they put away the strange gods from among them, and served the LORD: and his soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.”

A knife and an outlet. A recipe for disaster if it is in the hands of a two year old. But if after you correct the child, they go back to picking up the knife and pointing it toward the outlet, they haven’t learned – have they?

The Book of Judges details such activity of the nation of Israel. They would sin and serve other gods. They would leave off serving the God of Heaven. God would then allow their enemies to overcome them; oppress them and enslave them. THen, they would cry unto the Lord and He would hear them and deliver them.

If that were us, we would tire easily of the repetitive falling and getting back up – a cycle we call the ‘merry-go-round’.  Pick a point on the circular merry-go-round and call it being right with God. Soon, we are distracted and leave off our devotions, prayer and fill that time with selfish things: sleep, eating, watching worldly amusements or worse.

Sin takes hold and we are away from God. The emptiness and trouble seem to overwhelm us. Destitute and depressed, we cry out to God to forgive our wickedness and He hears us, forgives us and we are lightened, lifted and unburdened. It is at this point we see that the danger is past, we grow comfortable and the cycle starts all over again.

The merry-go-round.

Repentance is seeing the cycle and saying, “I am tired of my constant cycle of abusing God’s grace. I will do whatever it takes to close the door to this sin.” For some of us, we cannot do it alone. We must employ an accountability partner. Someone that can lovingly, yet firmly guide us back. Someone with whom we give permission to put a finger in our face when we are not doing right; to ask us at any time where our heart is at with regards to our relationship with God.

The very action of turning from my sin to God is the definition of repentance. Carrying through on the words we speak reveals that our hearts have indeed turned. Paul, in speaking to King Agrippa said:

Acts 26:20 “But shewed first unto 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.”

Even Jesus as He spoke to John in a vision said:

Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Every heart’s decision that means anything will have action accompany it. Saying “I love you” and verbally abusing the one you say you love is no love at all.

In my work with the addicted, I see this happen all the time. They wanted to quit, but couldn’t get rid of old ‘friends’. If a person leads you into sin – they are no friend! We have a principle –

Those who do not love the Lord, will not help you serve the Lord.”

Sometimes the actions are drastic. Burning the pornographic books, installing an accountability software that allows others to see your internet activity. Deleting phone numbers, pictures, trinkets that remind you of past events that their memory would open the door to taking one step toward the bar, the bed of adultery, the casino or the refrigerator.

Your sin may not be as outward as some, but could we be able to allow someone to scrutinize our time, routine and whereabouts every moment of every day? Just a thought:

2 Chronicles 16:9 “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.”

I have taken to remind myself of the fact that if God said to me:

Hebrews 13:5 “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Then, I must realize that in the depths and throws of my sin – God was right there. More specifically, If I am His purchased possession – and I am – then what my eyes saw by my decision can be viewed this way:

“Father, I took these eyes, which you have purchased with the blood of your Son; Jesus Christ; who took my punishment for my sin. I took these eyes and viewed such wickedness; such abominable things; to feast on them, lust after them and take them up in my heart to desire them.”

“Father, I allowed a wound to go uncared for and unconfessed and it grew into hatred for one of Your children. Your love for them is as great as Your love for me. I turned my heart to take up anger instead of love. I took up vengeance instead of mercy and forgiveness.”

I think you get the picture.

Repentance involves a heart decision. The turning from unbelief to believing in Christ is salvation. The fruit of that decision will bring about the conversion and transformation of a life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

I trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior twenty-eight years ago. Those who knew me in my “BC” days (before Christ), can testify to my drinking, swearing, and downright wicked behavior. Today, there is evidence in my life that God has truly transformed me. Things changed. Things and people were left behind.

There were some things that left my life very easily and some took a bit and there are some, even now, that God is still working on me.

In the passage I read today, the nation of Israel came humbly and submitted themselves to whatever punishment God would choose. They didn’t care what pain, what heartache or what loss they may suffer. Nothing compared to the emptiness of a life without the presence, power and protection of Almighty God.

Repentance is truly leaving whatever is holding me from God and turning wholeheartedly to Him – whatever the cost. There are times when it is simple and easy to turn; and others are painful, costly and devastating.

“Sin will take you farther than you want to go; keep you longer than you want to stay and make you pay more than you want to pay.” R. Zaccharias

God makes the way back simple – maybe not easy, but simple – turn and run to Him. He will help to take care of the rest.

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