Rom_2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Repentance is an ugly word to most people. They find it hard to swallow the application of this word in their own lives but see the need for it in other people’s lives. Luk 6:41 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
God is the one who convicts us of sin not another. Though another may discern the need for repentance in another person, they cannot make another to repent or convict them of sin. However, they can lead a person to repentance through the word of God which speaks the truth into a person’s life causing them to be convicted of sin because the Spirit of the word speaks to their spirit. This happens when the deliverer of the message and the receiver of the message are both operating by the Spirit of God. If the deliverer of the message delivers the word without the Spirit’s motivation, it may still convict another of sin but it will not be because the deliverer of the message was operating in the Spirit. It will be because of the Spirit and life of the word which will have effect. If the receiver of the message does not receive the Spirit of the message, they will not be convicted even though the deliverer of the message is operating in the Spirit. This is where we see the importance of understanding the parable of the Sower. In this parable, seed was sown on four types of soil but only one received it in good soil and thereby prospered by God’s hand. This parable if understood will be the guideline in sowing seed and reaping a harvest. Disappointment and discouragement can be avoided by the Sower because he now understands the dynamic of seed sowing.
The value of repentance cannot be discounted in anyway. It has the power to save, heal and deliver a person from the grip of satan. It translates a person from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. It restores relationships and makes a person come into prosperity and long life. It prepares a person to receive revelation and a new life. It thwarts death and causes a person to come into fullness of joy of the Lord.
Repentance has been given to us by the goodness of God and is extended to us over long periods of time through His grace. God is patient and will wait for a person to come to the full realisation of their sin before He brings punishment or judgement on their lives. Though a person is convicted of sin, they may not repent. The may continue to live in guilt and over a period of time even cover that guilt up completely that they don’t feel the need to repent. The goodness of God is so great that He sent His only Son Jesus to die for us so that all who repent and turn from their wicked ways can be saved. Those who do not repent or do not feel the need to do so end up in death. The wages of sin is death.
After having come to Christ, one is not exempt from operating in repentance in exactly the same way as before coming to Christ even though God still shows His goodness toward His children through grace. He now does it lovingly from within a person bringing conviction to His children. It is like having a thorn in the flesh that one cannot seem to locate or be rid of till they repent. The thorn is one’s conscience that does not rest till repentance is made. Knowing that sin exists in a person’s life should cause them to repent but many do not do so immediately and so the thorn remains. This is God’s way of taking away the joy and pleasure of sin in His child’s life. Should the child persist with sin, the wages of sin is death. God is good and patient but He too has His limitations because of righteousness and wrath. By this, I mean, God is not going to allow His righteousness to be compromised nor can He hold back His wrath from the sinner eternally. He must judge it. That is why He judged sin in His Son so that He would not have to judge it on His people. This however is not a license for us to sin. It means, there is no more sacrifice for sin and so only repentance can save a person. Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, Heb 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
The unsaved person too has a conscience that does not rest till some form of repentance is made. Since they do not know to whom this repentance is required, they try to attempt it between themselves. This works for a limited time and then it explodes again. That is because the root of the problem of confession has not been removed by confession to God and then repenting. A Godless people do not see the need for such kind of repentance. They take it upon themselves instead to be judges.
Christians on the other hand have an Advocate in Jesus; who has been made our righteousness for eternity through His sacrifice for sin. Therefore, we can go to Him for our confession and repentance. We do not need man as a mediator like some religions preach. Though we operate under the imputed righteousness of Christ and not our own, we are expected to walk righteously before God. That means, we must endeavour to remove anything that would cause us to sin though we still live in the flesh. It is impossible not to sin because of the flesh, and so when we go to Him and repent, we obtain forgiveness. If we do not, repent, we do not have forgiveness and are in danger of hell fire.
Many do not agree with this concept because they believe in a forgiving God who will turn a blind eye to their sin. Therefore, they continue to sin and live a life of sin knowingly. Then there is the concept of unknown (hidden) sin that one must be very careful of because it is hidden. It takes the Lord to show us this. King David’s conscience did not even flinch even though he had committed adultery, murder and covetousness all in one go when he took his neighbour’s wife for himself. After he had committed this heinous crime, he sat back on his throne as though nothing had happened. God sent a prophet to him and convicted him of sin. It was in this knowledge that he prayed a prayer in the following manner. This is an extremely important prayer for all of us and is a great safeguard against secret sin. Psa 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: Psa 139:24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. King David’s judgement was according to the cleanness of his hands. Psa 18:20 The LORD rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed me.
Repentance at communion is the key to restoration in one’s life. However, one does not need to wait till communion to achieve this. I remember ministering to a woman who had a death sentence of cirrhosis of the liver through much bitterness that had come upon her life. She had been beaten and broken by her first love over many years and subsequently fallen in deeper sin through the despair of her life. When I met her, she was in desperate trouble. I asked her to repent and forgive. She did this with some difficulty. The next day she went to the Doctor and was examined and told that she no longer had cirrhosis of the liver. This is the power of God to deliver a person through repentance and forgiveness. Communion has been instituted by Christ for the reason of remembering what He did for us on the cross. He took the punishment of our sin so that we could escape past, present and future sins. Past sins were dealt with on the cross while present and future sins are dealt through repentance and forgiveness. Let us be wise about this because, if we do not confess our sins and repent we will face many difficult consequences in life and the wages of sin is death. I believe many Christians do not enjoy the joy, blessings and peace of the Lord because they carry upon themselves the yoke of unreleased sin, both known and hidden. This is a common problem because Christians are still living in the flesh. The Bible exhorts us to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit. However, many Christians find this difficult to do and so many do not bother after some time. Furthermore, the evil one is always around to tempt Christians with sin so many fall for both the raw and subtle ways of the devil. This not only plunges them into sin but captivates them and keeps them in sin and bondage. Snare of the fowler
Keeping a pure heart requires discipline. It is something that is gained through the practices that Jesus instituted for us. Confession, Repentance, Forgiveness, Walking in the Spirit, Fellowship with like minded Christians, Regular attendance at Church, Prayer, Reading of the Word and meditating on the scriptures are essential disciplines of a Christian to maintain a peaceful and fruitful life. These disciplines keep us from deliberate sin while building in us a hope for the future. This is so essential for good Christian health and growth. Many do not understand these aspects of discipline after repentance. This causes them to fall straight back into sin. The other dilemma Christians have is giving up bad character and habits from the old life. While many are convinced of the need to change others do not understand the need to deal with these issues immediately and as a result suffer needlessly. Others languish in trying to deal with it.
Is there an easy solution to sin? There is a definite answer to sin which is appropriated by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. The person of God in Christ in us makes us stronger than we can be and so it is possible to change and live a strong Christian example of righteousness. We are not perfect but being perfected and hence repentance is a major tool in securing the first leg of the journey towards being perfected. It is a continuous process that will be with us till the day we die. I pray that God will show us the value of repentance.
Lots of love