This is a perilous time – a time where lawlessness is increasing and wickedness seems to be rising (Matthew 24:12). However it’s important to understand that the wickedness has always been there, the only difference now is that what’s really in the heart of man is now coming out and being fully exposed (Luke 12:2). Only those who have eyes to see will discern what is taking place (Proverbs 26:26). The restrainer is being removed, which gives way to full-blown evil to pour forth from the hearts of all men (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
In the paradox of our life’s journey, we go through many different circumstances which bring with it moments of both laughter and sorrow, and although we’re all in this world together, what is the defining difference between a Christian and a non-Christian?
But when we say Jesus, what does that exactly entail?
We know that in Jesus there is righteousness, healing, love, peace and of course everlasting life to name just a few (Psalm 30:2, Jude 1:2, John 3:16), but what part do we play in our relationship with Christ?
There is a rhythmic cycle that the Lord has repeatedly pointed out of which human beings continually go through in their lifetime....
MAN CONTINUALLY SINS AGAINST GOD
And our sin separates us from a holy God (Isaiah 59:2), which in turn leads us to our deserved eternal punishment of death (Matthew 13:41-42).
But when Jesus came and broke that cycle for His chosen few, what must we do in order to receive the gift of eternal life that Jesus offers?
Without repentance, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. This is the crucial factor of where our relationship lies with our heavenly Father.
Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
No repentance = no forgiveness
No forgiveness = no atonement
What does the word repent mean?
To repent means to turn away from the wrong we are doing, to be sorry for transgressing against our holy heavenly Father and not only stop doing wrong, but move completely away from it.
So in effect, repentance is to turn away from sin (evil) and turn towards the Lord (righteousness).
Now we know that there is an initial repentance that happens at the believer’s conversion, however this is not a once-for-all apology where you only have to repent one time and that covers you for life. No way!
The only way that repentance could be made null and void would be if we no longer sinned. Could you honestly say that after you came to know Christ, you never sinned again?
We know the answer to that is quite simple – so too is the fact that we must be quick and ready to repent for the sins we commit.
Once we have been born again, we now have been given a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Our inward desires have changed from selfish ambition, to now living for the Lord and wanting to serve Him. And what comes with this transformation when we are born again, is a heart of continual repentance. Just as we must die to self daily due to our body of death (flesh) (Romans 7:21-24, Mark 8:34), so too must we be walking in repentance (Proverbs 28:13).
The Bible tells us that no one is better than anyone else (Romans 3:9-10) and there is not one person on earth (besides Jesus) who has never sinned.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.
In and of ourselves, we are all just as wicked as each other because we have all fallen short of the glory of God by the sins we have committed. (Romans 5:12, Galatians 6:3)
Romans 3:23 ...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
To stand as one who claims to have no sin is to stand as God Himself! Woe to those who claim such a thing for it is a blatant lie. And not only that, but if we have deceived our own heart into believing this, the Bible says that His Word is not in us – this means we do not know the Lord.
1 John 1:8, 10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
It’s only through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we are made clean from our sins (Hebrews 10:10, 1 Corinthians 6:11).
Romans 4:25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.
But in order to be cleaned from our sins, we must first admit (confess) them to ourselves and to the Lord (1 John 1:9), wholeheartedly repent for them and if necessary, make right any wrongs we have done; whether it be to another person/people etc. (James 5:16)
Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Satan is the deceiver (Revelation 12:9), and his job is to convince you that you’re ok to stay in your sin as you are, making you believe that you’re right with God when in actual fact, you have been separated from Him because God cannot walk with unholiness.
Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
So in knowing we must be a repentant people, why do we find it so difficult to repent?
Pride is the reason we stay in our sins and won’t repent.
Pride is the reason we argue our point instead of listening.
Pride is the reason we point the finger and refuse to examine ourselves.
Pride is the reason we hold so tightly to the very thing (sin) which is killing us.
Let’s not be like those who hide the truth because of our wickedness – the truth that is so glaringly obvious to discerning believers around us.
It’s easier to note other people’s sins than our own, but what good does it do for our own soul to point the finger at others and not look at ourselves? The danger of pointing out other people’s sins without taking a look at our own life is devastating to our Christian growth. Not only because we aren’t examining our own hearts, but also because we are holding a self-righteous, judgmental attitude towards others. Remember that the only reason we would even take note of another person’s sin is to help restore them – hoping that they would repent and turn back to the Lord.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him with a spirit of gentleness.
But in order to help another, we must first take the log out of our own eye...this means we need to be sure we’re walking upright. Matthew 7:3-5 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
We often know our faults but aren’t willing to make a note of it because as soon as you take note of your evil, you know you will need to repent, and that means changing your ways. We can be so set in our ways that we don’t want to change – but remaining in sin keeps us locked up in bondage, which leads to death.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
Not only that, but to remain in sin is to be in blatant disobedience to God...and to be disobedient is to be lawless.
1 John 3:4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
Lawlessness derives from rebellion, which holds closely to stubbornness – another form of the root – pride. Admitting when we’re wrong, even to ourselves, can be difficult but it is essential to our Christian walk.
1 Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD...
We cannot trust man because he is just as fallible as we are. (Psalm 118:8)
Neither can we trust dreams and visions alone because they can lead us astray. (Lamentations 2:14, Jeremiah 23:16)
We can’t even trust an angel that may appear before us because it could be Satan masquerading as an angel of light. (Galatians 1:8, 2 Corinthians 11:14)
Furthermore, we cannot trust our heart because it is so quick to deceive us. (Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21)
All we can rely on is the Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16, John 17:17)
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
The Bible is our only source of truth. If we apply God’s inspired Word in our life, we will be standing firm on the Rock where nothing can shake us.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
We must break down that pride and arrogance in order to reveal the truth to our own hearts (Proverbs 8:13)
Proverbs 16:18 Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall.
We see all throughout the Bible, from beginning to end, of God warning the people to repent for their sins and if they do, He will receive them back to Himself. But they must repent! (Ezekiel 18:30, Jeremiah 25:5, Isaiah 1:16)
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
Everyone’s favourite king in the Bible is King David. He is well known throughout Christian circles. He was a man who we know was after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), however his great transgression is widespread knowledge because the Lord chose to use his life as an example in order to teach His people for thousands of years to come. David made some huge mistakes, as well as deliberately taking some extremely calculated actions. He was responsible for committing many grievous sins, which had a lasting effect on many people.
- committed adultery
Do we stop to realise that this man was real? That these events actually did take place?
I think alot of people read about King David, as well as other biblical history, and see it as almost a fable. Even though they know it was real, they don’t read it with that thought in mind – they see it as just a fiction novel. And the reason that many see the Bible this way is because they don’t really value the Word of God.
But this was a true story. David was a man after God’s own heart, however he was a man who sinned – like us all. He committed shocking transgressions, hiding his sin (like we all try to do), and even taking an innocent life.
Throughout David’s time of this sin, he doesn’t even think to repent for what he had done. In fact, he continues on as though nothing is wrong, arrogant and stubborn in his ways. It’s almost as if he felt he had gotten away with what he’d done. At this stage in David’s life, he was living in unrepentance and he lived like this for quite some time because Bathsheba went all throughout her pregnancy and gave birth to their child before David repented.
It wasn’t until the Lord sent Nathan the prophet to speak with David to reveal his sin to him. Once David’s sin was laid bare before him, did he deny it? Did David choose to lie or excuse his behaviour? Not at all. David immediately humbled himself, admitted his sin and said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” 2 Samuel 12:13
David truly repented before the Lord.
So because of his transgressions, does this mean that he could no longer be used by God?
Well we see the answer to that in the Bible. The Lord forgave David of his sin, and although there were consequences to his wrongdoing that he had to endure, God still used David who went on to be a mighty king who pleased God. David truly was a man after God’s own heart and he showed this when he wholeheartedly repented for his sin and demonstrated his faith in God by committing himself fully to the Lord.
Overall, we rightly remember David for his righteousness and use his mistakes as learning blocks for our own lives.
The same goes for us today. We cannot skip this step of repentance as it’s crucial in order for our hearts to be contrite before the Lord, keeping us humble so we remember our own frailties and see our own position before God, putting Him in His rightful place. (Psalm 8:3-4)
It’s our responsibility to keep a check on ourselves in order that we’re conducting our walk in a godly manner through all areas of life, presenting ourselves as an ambassador for Jesus so as to be a good witness for Him and not a stumbling block (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Philippians 1:27 Nevertheless, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Matthew 18:6-7 “...whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”
So too would it be a fateful danger to our own souls if we ignore the issue of repentance. It’s only when we humble ourselves before almighty God and repent for our wicked sins, that He is faithful and just to forgive us, which keeps us walking on the narrow path to life and not led astray by the deceitfulness of this world who exalt self and blame others instead of taking ownership for their own offences.
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
We can even repent for our hidden sins – that is – sins that we may not even know that we do.
Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
The Lord wants His bride to be spotless and blameless (Ephesians 5:27), and in order for us to be walking in holiness, we must have repentance on our tongue. Five out of seven churches in Revelation are rebuked by Jesus and warned to repent while they still have time.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Let’s ensure that we are not those who refuse to repent, but have a contrite spirit at all times.
Psalm 51:7 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Our God is so faithful that the moment we repent before Him, He will forgive our sins and cleanse us (1 John 1:7). The Lord reminds us that we have no right to harbour unforgiveness towards others, but we should be willing to forgive – repeatedly, just as He forgave us!
Luke 17:4 Even if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times returns to say, 'I repent,' you must forgive him."
Ephesians 4:2 Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.
Quite often we can hold bitterness towards others through misinformation or misunderstandings (Hebrews 12:15). This is so tragic because more often than not, things are never as bad as we think they are. The rumour mill is often to blame for wrong information being passed on and this is why gossip is such a danger (Proverbs 16:28). Almost always, gossip plays with twisted information, not facts. The enemy loves people to get the wrong idea about something in order to deceive and then cause divisions, strife and hatred (Romans 16:17-18, 1 Corinthians 1:10). The enemy is cunning and he has done his job well if you find yourself being hateful – remember that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy (Genesis 3:1, John 10:10).
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.
Nevertheless, we have no right to hold a person in contempt and not forgive them. In fact, when we do hold unforgiveness in our heart, we end up becoming bitter and miserable. Nothing any person can do against us could be bad enough to warrant us not forgiving them. And if we hold such an attitude, then we are sorely mistaken and don’t realise our own wretchedness and unworthiness of what we so quickly and easily expect the Lord to forgive us of.
Take this story for example.
...the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. “Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
So in remembering that we have been forgiven much, it is our God-given responsibility to forgive others and not hold grudges (Matthew 18:21-22). And not only to forgive, but to love! The one who knows they’ve been forgiven much, loves much because the grace they so freely have been given by God is passed on to others. This is Christ-like.
Grace received is grace given.
Luke 7:47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
So where does God’s grace come into the picture for us personally?
We hear alot about grace in modern churches today, and I for one thank God for His amazing grace that He bestows upon His children. However the grace that is talked of at churches is often not the same grace that is mentioned in Scripture. Many have come under the delusion that God’s grace will cover them for their sins, but this is not biblical. (Jude 1:4)
God’s grace gives us what we don’t deserve – and that is Jesus Christ who took our sin and shame upon Himself when He hung upon a tree in order that we might receive His righteousness.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
We all deserve to go to hell for the sins we have committed, however it’s only because of God’s grace by sending us His Son, whom we didn’t deserve, that we are able to be saved for eternity. God’s grace (Jesus) gave us the gift of eternal life by making a way for us to live forever with the Lord.
John 1:14-16 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
So it’s very clear that grace is not a licence to sin (Romans 6:1-2) – and we still have a responsibility to walk in holiness by walking in repentance before our Lord and King.
1 Peter 1:14-16 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
When we are walking in repentance, our lives will bear fruit of it because we will be walking in the ways of God. We can only bear good fruit when the tree is good...and the tree is only good if it is healthy. To be healthy, is to be humble and repentant.
Matthew 3:8, 10 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance... Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Friends, if we don’t understand much else in our Christian walk, it’s of utmost importance that we grasp this...
We must keep a heart of repentance before our God.
Acts 3:19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
Let’s not hold tightly to pride, which is just a broken reed that is trying to strangle the life out of us without us even realising it. I implore you to release the burden of pride within, repent to the Lord for your sins that you know the Holy Spirit is revealing to you now and run back to Him. Your Father loves you so dearly and He is ready to forgive you and wrap His loving arms around you once again – to embrace you with His love, peace, joy and wholeness!
It’s only when we humbly walk in repentance that we can be true disciples of Jesus Christ.
On a personal note, we have had to forgive many who have sinned against us, and it’s through forgiveness that the Lord brings forth peace and joy that only comes from knowing Jesus and being obedient to His Word. It is something that no thief can steal and no moth or rust can eat. It truly is a treasure the Lord gives His people which brings with it release, love and rest. We have a heart of love to those who hate us, and our heart-felt desire and prayer for them is that they would respond to God’s love, heed His Word and choose to repent and if necessary, forgive, so that they too can experience God’s precious peace that passes all understanding.
-- By Jenny Ayling