Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Acts 19:19-20
The Look of Repentance
If you were not aware, repentance has a look. That is to say if an ‘affected’ person is observed for a period of time, their ‘repentant condition’ would yield tangible evidence. Since repentance (by definition) is in part, ‘the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that, offends God,’ it’s safe to say the absence of those practices would be impacting (and obvious) to the onlooker.
Has your look changed?
Consider the Bible passage above. We see a new group of born-again believers, who having been convicted by the Holy Spirit, destroyed the components of their sinful ways (one cannot easily return to that which he demolished). Take note: there was no garage sale, no giving away, just total destruction. You could say in one sense it was a picture of baptism; the ritual washing whereby a Christian publicly demonstrates their new birth with and in Christ Jesus. The exercise begs the question: “Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”
Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”
At this point some might cry, “Foul,” that this is just another legalistic trip from the fundamental, Christian, right-wing fanatics. To these I would say you probably don’t understand Godly sorrow as it pertains to sin, repentance, and salvation (not to mention the practice of gleaning from wise counsel and/or the concept of iron-sharpening-iron). The Apostle Paul addresses the first issue in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.
Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
Paul points out the purpose and subsequent byproduct of Godly sorrow: repentance that leads to salvation. If you are a born-again Christian and have never experienced this brokenness, then there is a good chance you have not fully turned away from your sin. There also remains the likelihood that you have adopted excuses, false doctrines, and misguided people to justify the behavior and regalia to which you still hold fast. While I won’t question your salvation (that’s between you and Jesus), as an admonition I question if you are fully submitted to Christ’s will, His plan, and the sanctification process. It could very well be that in your attempt to fool others, you may only be fooling yourself.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Sanctification speaks to two things primarily: separation unto God (holiness) and submission to the changes Jesus desires to make in us towards perfection. If you understand sanctification and comprehend ‘Godly sorrow’ through personal experience, then you will not see ‘repentant change’ as legalism, but rather as liberty afforded by God.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18
The good news is that sanctification is a life-long process; it lasts from the moment we’re saved until the moment we cross over to Heaven. At the time of our rebirth there should have been some sure signs of repentance — if we truly turned towards Jesus to follow Him, we turned away from something sinful. As we continue to walk with Him in submission, daily asking Him to search our hearts for things we’re blind to, He is faithful to reveal them, and like those redeemed magicians in Ephesus, we can heap up those things for destruction.
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