SO many people today view REPENTANCE as simply being SORRY for their Sins, SORRY for their transgressions, SORRY for their failings, SORRY for their miserable lives, SORROW for their having hurt the ones they Love the most.
But the TRUTH is that REPENTANCE means a Whole Lot More than being "SORRY" for our sins! SORRY doesn't mean much today. "Sorry" is a word we toss around like a volley-ball anymore. There are so many people in this world today that almost make "SORRY" their pass-code and their mantra. SORRY doesn't mean SQUAT -- unless it is coupled with a desire to CHANGE! Without a desire to Change, "Sorry" is an EMPTY Word. Without a desire to Change, "Sorry" is only mere TALK. Without a desire to CHANGE, "Sorry" is only an EXCUSE and ought to be thrown away with all the other Junk Mail we send out to one another. Without a desire to Change, "Sorrow" is like the person who is dying of Cancer, but REFUSES to go to the Doctor! SORRY doesn't mean squat! And "Sorry" doesn't equal REPENTANCE!
The LORD isn't interested in hearing how SORRY you are! The LORD is interested in WHETHER OR NOT YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! THAT is what the LORD wants to KNOW! That is what the LORD wants to HEAR! THAT is what the LORD is waiting for YOU to tell Him!
You see, we can go to someone, ANYONE (including the Lord), and TELL them that we are "SORRY". But if that Confession is not backed up by a Commitment to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT then it is only an exercise in semantics! Should we FEEL SORROW -- YES! We should FEEL sorrow at hurting ANYONE, and especially at hurting our Lord and our God. But "Sorrow" is NOT ENOUGH! We have got to get to the point where we will STOP HURTING and Injuring our Lord and those around us!
But HOW do we STOP doing those things that "so easily beset us" and that cause so much HARM to those around us? HOW do we Stop hurting and disappointing our Lord? HOW do we REPENT of the things that we are doing and "Go in another direction" (which is the actual Definition of Repentance)? HOW DO WE REPENT?
One Christian writer has made a couple of very Revealing and very Comforting statements concerning all this. Here is one of them: "There are those who have known the pardoning love of Christ and who really desire to be children of God, yet they realize that their character is imperfect, their life faulty, and they are ready to doubt whether their hearts have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. To such I would say, Do not draw back in despair. We shall often have to bow down and weep at the feet of Jesus because of our shortcomings and mistakes, but we are not to be discouraged. Even if we are overcome by the enemy, we are not cast off, not forsaken and rejected of God...He desires to restore you to Himself, to see His own purity and holiness reflected in you. And if you will but yield yourself to Him, He that hath begun a good work in you will carry it forward to the day of Jesus Christ. Pray more fervently; believe more fully. As we come to distrust our own power, let us trust the power of our Redeemer, and we shall praise Him who is the health of our countenance." (Steps to Christ, p. 64).
In another place, this same writer says: "We should carefully consider what is our relation to God and to one another. We are continually sinning against God, but his mercy still follows us; in love he bears with our perversities, our neglect, our ingratitude, our disobedience. He never becomes impatient with us. We insult his mercy, grieve his Holy Spirit, and do him dishonor before men and angels, and yet His compassions fail not." (That I May Know Him, p. 181). Now PLEASE do NOT take this statement as some kind of LICENSE to KEEP ON SINNING! It was never made in that Context! It was made in the context of the person who has Committed Themselves To God but have found their walk ROCKY and DISCOURAGING. It was made concerning those who have EXPERIENCED THE DIFFICULTY OF THE CONTINUING WALK WITH GOD and who have found out how HARD it can be to try to do this ON YOUR OWN!
REPENTANCE is NOT coming to God and PROMISING TO DO BETTER! Have you ever tried that? I have -- hundreds of times -- and EVERY ONE of those times I have FAILED! Let me tell you that ALL our promises are like ropes of sand. ALL our promises are BOUND TO FAIL. NO, Repentance is not based on OUR PROMISES -- it is based on HIS! "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil?" (Jer. 13:23).. If you are TRYING to do BETTER in your own strength and in your own Power, then you are DOOMED TO FAILURE! There MUST be a POWER working from ABOVE before we can be CHANGED from unrighteousness into Holiness! There MUST be a TRANSFORMATION OF OUR MINDS (Rom. 12:2) Before we can perform what is GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and RIGHT in the eyes of God!
And in order for that Transformation to take place, we must COME TO GOD - Just as we are and we must lean upon, and claim, HIS PROMISES to TRANSFORM US and to RECREATE us in His image!
"The Christian's life is NOT a modification or improvement of the old, but a TRANSFORMATION of nature." (Desire of Ages, p. 172). WE have NOTHING to commend ourselves to God - except HIS MERCY! "Although our sins have merited condemnation, He does not condemn us...God rejoices to bestow HIS GRACE upon us, NOT BECAUSE WE ARE WORTHY, but because we are so utterly unworthy. Our ONLY CLAIM to His mercy is our GREAT NEED." (Ministry of Healing, p. 160,161) --- "We have NOTHING to recommend us to God; but the plea that we may urge now and ever is our UTTERLY HELPLESS CONDITION that makes HIS redeeming POWER a necessity." (Desire of Ages, p. 317).
What is that "GRACE" that God wishes to bestow on us? Is it ONLY FORGIVENESS? NO! God's "GRACE" involves His IMPARTING HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS upon, and within us. 1 John 1:9 says: "If we confess our sins, HE is faithful and just (righteous) to forgive us our sins AND to CLEANSE US from all unrighteousness." That little three letter word "AND" may be the MOST POWERFUL WORD in ALL the Bible! "AND to CLEANSE US FROM ALL UNRIGHTEOUSNESS!" You may go to almost ANY CHURCH in this great country of ours, and you WILL hear about how God is willing to FORGIVE you sins, How He is anxious to FORGIVE your sins, How Christ came and died in ORDER to FORGIVE YOUR SINS --- But you will hardly ever hear the "Rest of the Story". You will almost NEVER hear the preacher stand up and tell you the "AND" of the verse. You will almost NEVER hear it spoken that God CAN DELIVER YOU from ALL your Sin! You will not hear the Plain Word of God which declares that there is VICTORY in the person of Jesus Christ! Instead, you will hear a message that pretty much goes along this line: "You can have FORGIVENESS for you sins, but you can NEVER STOP SINNING". But I am here to tell you that this is NOT THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! This is NOT THE WORD OF GOD! This is NOT THE GOOD NEWS that Christ came to deliver to you.
You see, to RECEIVE HIS FORGIVENESS, is to receive HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, HIS POWER, and HIS Character! "To learn of Christ means to receive His Grace, which IS HIS CHARACTER"! Repentance is NOT just asking for Forgiveness - it is asking (AND CLAIMING) His POWER to OVERCOME whatever sin may have had CONTROL over us! And THAT is why "REPENTANCE" is such a POWERFUL thing. That is why the Devil would rather keep you thinking that Repentance means staying in that PITY POT of REMORSE, instead of MOVING INTO THE POWER OF GOD'S GRACE which IS "The Power of GOD unto Salvation"!
You see, REPENTANCE is NOT our going to God and TRYING TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT! Repentance is NOT our paying some kind of PENANCE - we can NEVER MAKE RIGHT that which we have done WRONG against God OR our fellow man. You can TRY all you want to try to make something you have already done right, but you can NEVER DO IT! NO amount of Money, or Time, or Effort, or Gifts, or anything else can ever make a WRONG right! ONLY the GRACE OF GOD can CHANGE US from what we have been (and what we are now) into that which is RIGHT, and HOLY, and GOOD in the sight of God. Only HIS Grace, HIS CHARACTER, translated into our hearts can move us from the decrepit creatures that we ARE -- into that which He wishes us to be, His Children! "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God"!
If You want to TRULY REPENT then you must COME TO GOD, just as you are (for if you are trying to change the very nature of your character, you might just as well be trying to change the color of the sky!). And then, you MUST TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD! There is TREMENDOUS POWER in the "WORD of GOD"! When God "SPOKE", there was Light. When God "SPOKE" there was Land and Ocean and all manner of life. When God "SPOKE", the very elements of matter JUMPED to OBEY His Command! It didn't take a thousand years. It didn't take MILLIONS OF YEARS! When God "SPOKE" -- it HAPPENED! When God "SPOKE", it WAS! And when God speaks TODAY, to YOU, through His Word, that same CREATIVE POWER attends His Word as it did when He was bringing the Universe into being. That SAME POWER is available to you and to me. It doesn't take a YEAR, or a MONTH, or a DAY. It IS - RIGHT NOW! It IS yours, RIGHT NOW, IF you will have it. It is BECAUSE God has SPOKEN it that we may CLAIM FORGIVENESS! It is BECAUSE God has SAID that we may become a NEW CREATURE that we may become just that! If we are but willing to TAKE GOD AT HIS WORD, we may have ALL the blessing that He has promised us! If we would but have the "FAITH" as of a grain of mustard seed, WONDERFUL TRANSFORMATIONS would take place in us, that neither the world or we ourselves could adequately explain. GOD IS WILLING!
Do you think that you are too "UNWORTHY" to be noticed by God, or to be lifted up into the FULLNESS of CHRIST? Then you have only to look to the men and women of the Bible who have stood exactly where you are standing right now! The great apostle PAUL was once the person of SAUL and persecuted the Church of Christ as few others ever had. He stood by, holding the cloths of Stephen and consenting to his death, PRIOR to his conversion on the road to Demascus! Moses KILLED a man and was PROUD of his standing in the community - until he was humbled, rebuilt and used of God. The Bible is FULL of examples of people (from Abraham, to Jacob, to Joseph, Esther, to Rahab, to Elijah, to Peter, to ...) who came to know the POWER OF REPENTANCE and the Power of CLAIMING THE PROMISES OF GOD - despite their past, or their shortcomings, or their outright sin and rebellion against God -- and just look at what They BECAME through the Power of Christ!
The BIBLE declares that it is through the PROMISES OF GOD that we may become like Him! "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world" (2 Pet. 1:4). It matters NOT what you have done, or where you have come from, it matters only WHERE YOU STAND TODAY!
Where are YOU STANDING? Are you standing on the side of DOUBT and FEAR? Are you standing there believing that there is NO HOPE for you? Are you standing there trying to figure out HOW you can MAKE THINGS RIGHT with God? There is only ONE WAY, and that way is to come to God RIGHT NOW, JUST AS YOU ARE, and to ASK HIM to give you a clean slate AND to CHANGE YOU (through the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ) so that you may serve Him in the way that you know you WANT to serve Him. The question is before you: Will you Surrender ALL to Him, or will you keep on trying to do things YOUR WAY? The CHALLENGE has been squarely placed before you, not by me, but by GOD HIMSELF, and it is a challenge that neither you nor I can take lightly. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Josh. 24:15)
REPENTANCE is NOT as HARD a thing as we have made it out to be! And the reason that it is NOT as hard as we have been led to believe it is, is because the burden is upon GOD to perform that which HE HAS PROMISED THAT HE WILL DO -- IF we will only let Him. Won't you LET HIM do this for you TODAY? You can be a TOTALLY NEW PERSON, in just a moment from now, if you will simply ask God to do for you what He has already promised to do -- if you will only REPENT and let HIM!
GOD's promises will NEVER FAIL -- WE are the only one's who Fail in clinging to and believing them. And even when we DO FAIL, God still has His hand outstretched to reach us, and to LIFT US UP INTO HIS GLORY! Jesus doesn't say: "If you become Better then I will Accept you". Jesus says: "IF YOU WILL ACCEPT ME, THEN I WILL MAKE YOU BETTER!" Won't you thank Him for His Mercy and for His Grace right now?
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