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Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

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 garagedemolished). 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?”

Legalism

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

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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For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. Hebrew 6:4-6

Have you ever read this portion of scripture and thought that you were most certainly doomed [because] you walked away from your God-given faith for a season? I know I have. For me, it is the toughest piece of scripture in the Bible and I know it is for many of you as well. I suppose there is someone, somewhere that these verses don’t apply to, but I don’t know any of those people.

Before we address it, we first need to know that the passage means exactly what it says, “It is impossible for those…(that fell away)… to renew them again to repentance.” We also should know that the word impossible (adunatos in the Greek) is translated:

  1. without strength, impotent, powerless, weakly, disabled
  2. unable to be done

In other words, impossible means impossible.

So What Do We Do?

Some people address the issue by reading into the verse doctrine that isn’t there. ‘This passage is making reference to those who were never saved to begin with,’ they might say.

Stretching the vocabulary to make it fit a particular situation (real or imagined) is entirely the wrong approach and at best it only serves to sidestep the solution. The best way (again) is to take these words at face value.

For whom are we told it is impossible?

For those who fell away; they are the powerless ones unable to do anything to renew their repentance. That should remind of us something; weren’t we also powerless to save ourselves initially?  What does Titus 3:5-7 tell us again?

 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

But Wait!

That certainly addresses when we first came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but the writer of Hebrews said after we fall away it was an impossible feat to accomplish. How can we possibly get around the impossible?

The solution is so easy, you’re liable to smack yourself in the forehead when you read it.

(Jesus) said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Luke 18:27

Yes! Let the Master handle it!

Nothing has changed. As it pertains to our salvation, our works are as filthy rags.  However nothing is impossible with God! At this juncture, there is only one question left to ask on the matter, “Is God a liar?”

…It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18b)

  1. What do these verses tell us about God?
  2. What do they tell us about ourselves?
  3. What changes do we need to address?

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Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

What is repentance, why is it important, and who preached on the topic?

Webster’s 1828 records that, “Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God.” I would agree, but add that cessation alone is not enough; one must turn away from sin and turn towards Jesus. Quite frankly, if you have no intention of believing in Christ Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you might as well just keep on with your abhorrent behavior.

When Holy Spirit conviction gives birth to Godly repentance, the recipient knows full well that a life or death situation exists. To purposely disregard this divine directive is to set a soul on a hellish spiral. The fanatical Christian with his, “REPENT or GO TO HELL” sign might be a little short on love, but his information is nevertheless completely accurate. I suspect that a believer walking more closely with Jesus would not be as harsh, but hopefully would get the same point across.

Who in the Bible preached the need for repentance? Well here’s the short list:

John the Baptist

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” Matthew 3:2

Jesus

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17

The 12 Disciples

So they (the disciples) went out and preached that the people should repent. Mark 6:12

Peter

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

Paul and God

Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious…Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent.” Acts 17:22 + 30

What does true repentance look like? According to the scriptures three characteristics will be apparent. First, there will be Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), second, there will be humility (Luke 18:9-14) and finally there will be the obvious rejection of the former ways and the turning to God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). These three attributes reflect a godly change of mind, of heart, and of will. Soon after, there will be fruit!

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses to all these things.” Luke 24:45-48

What are your thoughts?


These ramblings are typically (but not always) a byproduct inspired by God through my personal Bible study at SearchLight with Pastor Jon Courson and with my pastor at my home church, Calvary Chapel Coastlands

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Now it came to pass, in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem, Judah, went to dwell in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. Ruth 1:1

If God is your King, then the notion of leaving the safe haven He provides for another location should seem ridiculous to you. Sadly, this is precisely what Elimelech does in this opening passage from the Book of Ruth. Elimelech is Naomi’s husband and his name just happens to mean ‘My God is King.’. What makes this ugly situation even worse is that in his search for a worldly solution to a physical problem, he opts for the worst possible place imaginable and as a result becomes the picture of the prodigal son who never makes it home.

Moab is My washpot Psalms 108:9

Does it really matter why Moab is so bad? Not really, but I found it interesting to recall that the Moabitish people are the result of a drunken, incestuous relationship between Lot and his eldest daughter, after fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:31-38). Lot’s son was named Moab and the Moabites are his direct descendants. Scripture goes on to tell us that they worshipped many false gods, that they were prideful, reproachful, arrogant and would ultimately suffer the same fate as Sodom (Zephaniah 2:9-11). Obviously, Elimelech should have known better and was not in touch with the Lord when he made this dreadful decision.

A Better Choice

The truth of the matter is that life in Bethlehem for Elimelech was not that bad. We know this to be true because Naomi would later in this same chapter bitterly lament, “I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty,” acknowledging that life with God as King was satiating and life without Him was hollow. It’s true. What the world offers is temporary at best and if you show me a Christian who doesn’t recognize this, I’ll show you a person who is headed for ruin.

I’m not minimizing famine; it’s a big deal. But while the difficulty seemed colossal, the reality was that the solution was only eighteen inches away; the average distance between a man’s knees and the floor. Do you believe that God is bigger than the problems we face? Then also believe that His remedy to these problems has not changed through the centuries.

If My people who are called by My name will 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. 2 Chronicles 7:14


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Then the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the people of Ammon, and the gods of the Philistines; and they forsook the Lord and did not serve Him. Judges 10:6

Quotes For Today

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on frivolous youth of today, for certainly all youth are reckless beyond words…When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly wise and impatient of restraint”

“What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?”

These would be such precise assessments of today’s youth, had they not been penned well over a thousand years ago. The first quote is attributed to the 8th century Greek poet Hesiod and the second to the 5th century Greek philosopher Plato. Apparently there is nothing new under God’s sun. Things have not changed one crumb, except to say that there are now billions of people in the world making the perversity appear a billion times worse. We should not be surprised. In the Book of Judges the Lord raises up deliverer after deliverer and each time, the children of Israel repeatedly do evil in the sight of the Lord. If we weren’t so culpable ourselves, we might be shocked.

Why Does This Happen?

Well the short answer is that we’re all sinners, however for the born-again believer, that excuse no longer floats. A true follower of Christ Jesus; one who is enveloped in the components of the faith, should know better. So what happened with Israel? In their case they were recurrently guilty of what we’re so often guilty of: complacency. God would save them, there would be peace in the land for forty years or so (the length of a generation), and then the next generation would fall away into idolatry. Why? Because the previous generation kept their faith to themselves; they were self-satisfied and made little or no effort to carry on the oral traditions of their faith. God warned them (and He warns us today) that this would happen…

When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest–when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage… Deuteronomy 8:10-14

We Have an Advantage

Today, we have Israel’s example recorded for us in God’s word. Back in the day, Israel relied on their own oral tradition. Not an excuse mind you, but nevertheless, they did not have the Bible to refer to. I only mention that fact as a reminder—the Christian has God’s Word and His Holy Spirit living inside of us. It does make you wonder why we make the same brainless errors though.

And the children of Israel said to the Lord, “We have sinned! Do to us whatever seems best to You; only deliver us this day, we pray.” So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord. Judges 10:15-16

The Good News

Like I said earlier, nothing much has changed through the years—God’s formula is still the same: confess, submit, and repent. Confess our sin, submit to the consequences (and there are always consequences), turn away from sin and turn towards Jesus Christ with an obedient heart. Ladies and gentlemen, we serve the God of second, and third, and fourth, and…chances. A horrible experience is the best teacher, but it does not have to be your experience.


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Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” And He said to me, “It is done!” Revelation 21:5-6
Don’t Be Depressed

“Hey,” Jesus might remind us, “you’re not finished yet.”

Do not make the error that so many Christians have made and take these truthful words written by the Apostle Paul out of their proper context:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

It is absolutely true that the Christian is a new creation, but make no mistake about it, we are not done until Jesus says we are done. In Revelation 21, our Lord will one day soon make the declaration, “It is done!” It could be said that the masterpiece He has been working on for all eternity will finally be completed. It will be done when no more improvements can be made.

Why Are You Still Depressed?

I am not trying to be flippant about the topic. I realize that depression is not something we can wink at and it will simply go away. We cannot say to the disheartened person, Just get over,” because a process is required; a process that typically takes time. However, we can say with confidence the sooner you decide to begin the process the sooner you can be delivered from the malady. The process begins when you receive Christ’s gift with the purpose of using it properly.

Change Your Mind and God Will Change Your Heart

I know from personal experience that depression can be debilitating, but I also know it does not cause paralysis (it just seems like it does). For example, a depression sufferer may not want to get out of bed, but suffice it to say, if he wanted to he could. There is nothing wrong with the body, apart from perhaps a little atrophy due to a lack of movement. Therefore, the ability to choose; the ability to ‘change your mind’ is still intact, regardless of whether you feel like it or not. That’s important because the problem is not with your brain, the problem is with your heart.  The way to change your heart is to change your mind because the only One who can change your heart is God.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

I am speaking to the Christian.

If you are depressed and you do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then there is a good chance you are going to struggle with your infirmity (and the world’s solution for it). The key to recovery is to accept Jesus and then repent towards Him. In other words, change your mind. Read this passage and you will see the method:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

Consider the choices: a depressed individual who despises his condition and understands the problem is in his heart and not his head will receive peace, stand in grace, rejoice in hope, and glory in tribulations, because God heals. God honors faith and He honors commitment. In time, tribulation, the thing that once served to destroy, is now the very thing that God uses to correct and modify us. It serves to lead us towards hope and a heart that is in agreement with the mind (the mind committed to change and align with God’s plans).

How Long?

Don’t be like most folks and give-up before the miracle happens. The length of the process is up to God. I suffered with depression (as a Christian) for a long time and I was content that my ultimate healing would come when I crossed over. I truly was at peace. Then one day, in a matter of moments, God healed me. These are the words God spoke directly to me: “From now on, if you find yourself depressed, it is the choice you have made.”

From now on, if you find yourself depressed, it is the choice you have made.

Changing your mind (repentance) is something Christians must do on a regular basis. While I am tempted to say it is something that you must do daily, I know from my own experience that it can also be a moment-by-moment responsibility. Like Paul said, the Christian walk is a kin to a marathon, but it is not a 50 yard dash (paraphrase mine). Keep your eye on the prize…

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:1-6

(*Like I alluded to in the blog, God healed me of my depression. When I was healed, I was taking prescription medication for depression. I DID NOT stop taking the medicine immediately, but rather weaned myself off them SLOWLY over several weeks and under the care of a physician. Stopping your depression medicine suddenly can be dangerous. I am not a doctor and I am not a pastor. I am a Christian who believes in Jesus Christ)

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Let the People Decide“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot…because you are lukewarm…I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ’I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” Revelation 3:14-18This Week in Laodicea

With all the churches spoken of in Revelation, Jesus designs a specific and symbolic message that the church of that day would understand. In the case of Laodicea we find that it was an extremely wealthy city and that they were positioned above natural hot springs that they ‘piped’ to surrounding areas. The only problem is that by the time the water got to where it was going, the water was always ‘lukewarm’.

The city was also known for two desirable exports: ointment for the eyes, which was believed to cure several eye ailments, and black wool, from which they manufactured fine black garments. The downside of the city is that it was constructed in such a way, that it was vulnerable to attack; therefore they championed a spirit of compromise in order to preserve joy and peace. These attributes would be woven into Jesus’ letter.

A Perverse Church

Jesus does not have anything good to say about this church, so much so that He essentially declares it is not His church at all, but that it is the church of the Laodiceans—Jesus does not do that with any of the other churches. In the Greek the word Laodicea would correctly translate to the ‘people rule’ or the ‘people decide’. This is a church not governed by Jesus, but by people who have perverted that which Jesus truly is and stands for.

A Popular Church

It is for that reason this was a very popular church And you know what…It still is today. Show me a church that routinely compromises the Word of God; that is compassionate towards alternate lifestyles, teachings, and mandates contradictive to His Word, and I will show you the modern-day church of the Laodiceans. These churches rarely mention sin and/or repentance and focus on positive messages so its members might sustain their sightless bliss.

Jesus Our Councilor

This is a wonderful place for all of us to remember that while Jesus does not like what the church preaches, He still loves its people, so much so that he reminds us in verse 19, ‘As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.’

Jesus would never condone their actions, but He wants them back. This requires repentance (not just a turning away from sin, but a purposeful turning towards Him), that leads to zealousness for Him. Jesus tells us how by the end of today’s passage. He councils this wealthy city to:

Get Into the Fire

‘Buy your gold (get your wealth) from Me…gold that is refined by fire, ’Jesus says.

…Your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…1 Peter 1:17

Get Properly Dressed

‘Get your white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness, ’Jesus says.

…For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness… Isaiah 61:10

Get the Mud Out of Your Eyes

‘And anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.’

…He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam“…So he went and washed, and came back seeing. John 9:6-7

These, the Words of our Lord, are not condemning, but convicting and they serve to restore and not destroy. It is by that same truth, and hopefully with a similar love, that I share them here today.


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