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Posts Tagged ‘Repentance’

THAT guy? Are you kidding me?!?

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)

During my afternoon devotions today I was reading in 1 Kings 21, the infamous story of King Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard. For refreshers, Ahab totally covets Naboth’s vineyard. Even he has a vineyard that he is willing to trade, plus an offer of money. Naboth insists that his vineyard isn’t for sale. Usually quite crooked and quite resourceful, Ahab just pouts. Jezebel, his wife, finds out what has happened and sends some ‘worthless fellows” to falsely accuse Naboth and have him killed so that Ahab can just take the vineyard. Ahab complies of course.

As a result, God sends Elijah to tell Ahab that because of this particular sin, Ahab, his wife, and his children will be judged. Then something weird happens: Ahab repents and God relents on His immediate judgement.

Now, I’m one to admit that often in Old Testament historical book I’m slow to see the overarching theological purpose. I’m sure there’s more to it in this particular passage, but here’s what really hit me hard:

God will forgive ANYONE if they repent.

I know…duh. But seriously, Ahab had it coming. He was famous for the degree of idolatry he brought to the Northern Kingdom. He was an avid persecutor of the prophets. He referred to Elijah as his enemy. He brought Jezebel to Israelite life. In just the previous episode in 1 Kings, he was willing to surrender his children and wives to Ben-Hadad, but he is unwilling to let them search his home fore treasure. If anybody had it coming it was him.

If I had the choice, when he repented and mourned I would have said “Good.” and let him have it. But God relented.

What do I learn from this?

  1. I lack understanding of the grace of God. When people (like myself) balk at God showing mercy, that is the case.
  2. I don’t understand the perversity of my own sin. Compared to God’s perfect standard, I’m in the same boat as Ahab.
  3. I need to be thankful I haven’t suffered the just reward of my sin.
  4. I need to appreciate the ministry of the Holy Spirit in this age. It provides believers the ability to do the things they know they should do.
  5. I need to regard other sinners with compassion, praying that God would show them the same grace He has shown me.

Ultimately Ahab met his end, but not as a direct result of his sin against Naboth. God certainly went to great lengths to preserve His glory in the people of Israel. He handled them with kid gloves when they deserved to be exterminated.

In myself, as in Ahab, I am reminded of the fact that God’s glory is greatest when mercy is extended to the most undeserving. Christ, God’s greatest gift was exchanged for objects of non-existent worth. Because f His sacrifice I have no business judging my fellow sinners in such self-righteousness. Just as grace and mercy are His, so too is my righteousness His.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)

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The enduring power of guilt.

Thursday morning in here in Omaha, Nebraska, Thomas Tomich threw himself off of the Rorick apartment tower just west of downtown. The day before a body found in an oil drum found north of Council Bluffs, IA had been identified as that of his former wife’s. Missing for twenty three years, her remains were discovered and identified after forensic testing.

Thomas had always been a suspect but without a body there was not much of a case. Upon identifying the body as his ex-wife he was immediately questioned. The next morning he killed himself.

We should marvel at the secrets hidden in the hearts of men. How a man can live for 23 years knowing he is guilty of murder, and now authorities say he is suspected of two or more other murders, is hard to imagine. Or is it?

I know I am right in saying that many who claim that Jesus Christ is their Savior are in fact harboring secret sin. Sins they have committed, either in the body or of the heart, are known only by them. They live in terror of being discovered, and they will be discovered.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)

They are uncovered now by the searching light of the Word. Whether or not we attest with our tongues, our souls nod in affirmation. Our sin exposed simply by the Word’s identification of sin regardless of how we respond.

What’s more, as the passage states, we will give an account to Him. Both believers (1 Cor 3) and unbelievers (Rev 20). What is hidden will be ripped from the clutches of privacy and judged.

So guilt is a blessing. The believer’s conscience testifies that he must repent of his sin. The unbeliever is called to seek forgiveness at the foot of the cross, where God’s wrath met the perfect substitute: Jesus Christ. By faith His perfect obedience is credited to us and our sin is put on Him.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Cor 5:21)

In the end, guilt will lead you to forgiveness and life, or to conviction and death.

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Majoring on the Minors: Pt.1

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness and relenting of evil.”

-Joel 2:12-13

Rend your heart and not your garments. As I have been working through the minor prophets recently, several key themes have jumped out at me. One of them is the subject of repentance. True repentance. Biblical repentance. Through all of Israel’s cycles of sin and return, God continually pleads with the nation to return to Him. Most, if not every one of the prophets make this demand of God’s people, the exceptions being a book like Nahum in which God is pronouncing final judgement on Nineveh for its gross, unrepentant sin. Over and over again God calls the nation of Israel to return to Him and certainly none of what the nation has done over the centuries has satisfied God’s demands.

This brings us to the subject of repentance, and its bookend, obedience. The repentance that God commands is not one of perpetual resolve and subsequent defeat that is the product of effort in the flesh. instead, God commands us by the power of His Spirit to cease from sin, and put off the deeds of the flesh since the old man has already been crucified.

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” -2 Cor 7:9-10
When our sin continually haunts us, we must conclude one of two things:

1.) As Christians we are using the power of our flesh which is in fact our deceiving enemy, and failing to use the power of the indwelling Spirit through prayer and the knowledge of His Word.

OR

2.) We are not Christians and lack spiritual power to effect real change. Inability to repent reveals our need to be saved.

This is the crisis that Israel faced as Joel wrote his prophecy: That The nation’s unbelief was revealed by their perpetual failure to finally repent of their sin. Ultimately He will pour out His Spirit upon them (Jer 31), enabling their obedience as HE has foreshadowed in the Spirit’s ministry to the Church. Until then, they will continue in their unbelief just as the Gentile unbeliever drowns in his sown sin.

The bookend of repentance, as mentioned before, is true obedience; obedience of the heart. Rend your heart, and not your garments,” the Lord says. He is not satisfied with outward obedience. As the 2 Cor 7 passage continues to say in v11, spirit-born repentance yields spiritual fruit. Israel was guilty of keeping up appearances, going through the routine. They would engage in superficial acts of grief over their sin (i.e. the rending of garments) but they wouldn’t submit themselves wholly to God. Unfortunately for them, for God “to obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Sam 15:22). Spirit born repentance yields fruit, not merely cessation from sin.

I find this passage from Joel to be a troubling one because it calls me to do more than go to church, read my Bible, and pray. It is easy to do just that. God wan’t so much more. He is not satisfied with struggle because He has given power for victory. He has not commissioned a painting, but created a living, breathing thing. He is not satisfied with hiring employees because He has adopted us as sons. He will not accept mediocrity because HE has sacrificed His greatest treasure, His son.

So weep and mourn over your sin. Be sick about it, but be done with it. Don’t play with your sin, rather deal with it.

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