Monday, May 10, 2010

Meditation: Repentance

I do not have a specific verse for this mornings meditation.  I have more of what God has shown me through His word, though observation of others, and through personal experience. 

Repentance is not...

Wanting to change thinking about change
hoping for change feeling bad about something
guilt remorse
sadness changing behavior
trying harder praying more
reading the Bible more going forward in church
saying "I'm sorry" promising to do better

To be sure all these things may be involved in repentance, but in and of themselves they are not repentance. 

Psalm 51:4

In order for repentance to occur one must be first aware that repentance is needed.  There is change that is most definitely needed in the life of a person.  Others may see the need for change, but until the person themselves is aware they cannot repent.  What is more often we push this awareness away from our conscious mind.  The recognition that a change is needed is too painful and so we push that awareness away.  We can also deny that a change is needed in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary.  It is amazing to me the level of denial that a human mind can come up with when all else points him/her in a different direction.  This denial keeps a person away from repentance.  Whether through ignorance, avoidance, or denial a lack of awareness that one needs to repent will keep one from repenting.  Awareness that a change is needed is not the same as repentance.  It is simply the first step in making a change.

How does one become aware that a change is needed?

  It is clear to me that God's word and his Holy Spirit are needed to make one aware of sin. 

Paul explains it this way,  "...sin, in order to be recognized as sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment, sin might become sinful beyond measure (Romans 7:13)."  God's word helps us to recognize when we have missed the mark.  Sin is just that "missing the mark."  We are imperfect and have many flaws leading us to miss the mark.  If a person says they do not sin then they are ignorant (1 Corinthians 15:34) or they are lying (1 John 1:8).   God's word removes ignorance and forces out of self deception.  When sin is in a person's life often a devotion to God's word is the first casualty. 

The Holy Spirit plays a role in making one aware of sin (John 16:8-9).  The Holy Spirit convicts regarding sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Without the calling of the Holy Spirit our natural inclinations would be to go astray (Galatians 5:16-18).    In fact no one is drawn to the Father (God) except by the work of the Holy Spirit (John 6:63-65) and the Spirit does this at the bidding of the Father.

At this point the person is at a crisis of faith.  He/She either believes the Word of God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit or she/he denies the need of repentance.  It is a sorry thing when a person refuses to repent.  The immediate consequence is a removal of the peace that God desires to give.  The long term consequence is the removal of God's blessing and protection.  The eternal consequence for the unbeliever is separation from God.

All this to say that recognition of the need for change is a prerequisite to repentance. 

Change of Will

Once a person has this recognition they have to take the next step which is a change of will.  To repent you have desire the change.  Being aware that a change is needed is well and good, but if you do not desire to change then your repentance will be short lived.  There has to be a change of desire that occurs in the innermost part of your being.  This desire is a restoration of hungering and thirsting for righteousness. 

For consider how much diligence this very thing-this grieving as God wills-has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter.
2 Corinthians 7:11 (HCSB)

Desire to clear, indignation, fear, deep longing, zeal, and justice.  Those are powerful words.  Meditate on them.  Let them sink into your soul.  Let them spark spiritual life into your mind, body, and action.  These things grant inward repentance.  Transformation that is inside out. 

Change in Direction

Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:22 (HCSB)

Repentance is a change in direction.  It is a change from worthless things to God (Acts 14:15).  It is a change from self-centeredness to God (Proverbs 18:1).  It is a change from "I got to have it" attitude to God (James 3:16).  Repentance is a change from a passive attitude about sin to a recognition of sin as God sees it (James 4:8-10).  Repentance is seeking God's Glory over the glory of men (John 5:44).  In short repentance is an about face from all the selfish desire and attractions of this worlds to a forward facing devotion to God and his kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

Change in Fruit

Repentance is a change in actions.  The actions in and of themselves hold no real power to repentance.  They are merely evidence of the change that has already occurred on the inside.  Often people will seek to do great works as a way to undo or compensate for the wrong that they have done.  This type of change is not repentance, but rather is works based religion.  The fruit of repentance is cultivating those things in your life that lead to genuine spiritual growth. 

In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can't produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit.
Matthew 7:17-18 (HCSB)

What is this fruit?  Here is a good list:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 (HCSB)

A person growing in these with consistency demonstrates the Spirit of God working in him/her.  A change of fruit demonstrates the change of heart.  That is repentance.  

Have a blessed day!

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