The last 3 weeks we have been going to a new church, based on the recommendation of a good friend. I don’t have too many qualms with it, the preaching is practical and the atmosphere friendly. It is non-denominational, in agreement with my policy of not wanting to mix church and theo-politics like at a previous time in my life.
It did strike me though, that in the churches that I have attended in the last few years, in the music, in the preaching, and in the church’s “beliefs”, repentance is virtually absent. Even in the “believers prayer”, there is no mention, or it is mentioned as an afterthought.
It is almost amusing to see how repentance has virtually disappeared from the church, and in my opinion, the humbling of the self before God too. Are we not depraved and sinful any more? And is it not the responsibility of our church leaders to lead us in humbling ourselves before God? I know that modern churchiology says that church must be a happy place, where people must feel good about themselves or they will not come. Logically though, how can you feel good if you don’t feel bad first? How can you rejoice if you don’t know why? Is the best feeling, the happiest, most glorious feeling not when you have been cleansed, when you have admitted and confessed every sordid detail before God, and He has made your heart as white as snow?
What is repentance, and why is it necessary? (All ESV)
“1Ki 8:47 , yet if they turn their heart in the land to which they have been carried captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,”
Here we see it is a turning of the heart, an admission of guilt, a denial of one’s own actions. It is plain and simply saying, from the heart, that we have sinned. It is pleading, but what for? Why is repentance necessary? Why do we need to feel bad about ourselves, instead of just feeling good about being saved and blessed, like in many modern churches?
“1Ki 8:48 if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name,
1Ki 8:49 then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause
1Ki 8:50 and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them”
First note that repentance comes from the heart and the mind. There is no hiding, it is a deepfelt sorrow and disgust, both emotionally and mentally. It happens through prayer, and is heard in heaven, as a plea. The result of such a heartfelt plea is forgiveness, and forgiveness is followed by compassion. The parallel rendition in 2 Chronicles also says that in submitting such a prayer, we shall rejoice in the goodness of God, so it is not all about feeling bad. It is about being the least before God, admitting that we have made God sad, that we have betrayed His love and grace, and that we are truly sorry for doing so. It gets rid of the blemishes on our hearts, it wipes clean the slate, and while we repent we are sorry, and yes, we feel crummy. However, it is followed by joy, the joy that we know through forgiveness.
It is in keeping with the commandment of God:
“Act 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,”
“Act 8:22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”
“Act 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,”
If we do not repent, if we don’t admit our wekaness and ask for forgiveness, how then can we appeal for anything from God? How can we honestly ask for prosperity, health, blessings and love, when we are not even able to admit before God that we need Him for the most basic thing, forgiving us our basic human weaknesses and disregard of His wishes? How do we become so presumptious, when we cannot deny ourselves and beg for the most basic of mercies? Repentance can only come when we are convicted of our sins, and that only happens by the witness and power of the Spirit. It is testimony that we truly want to walk the way of God, and not sin any more.
My appeal to you today is to repent every day, lest you land in the same position that Esau did:
“Heb 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
Don’t let your opportunities to repent pass, lest you have to face the removal of God’s blessing. Repentance leads to life:
“Act 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” ”
It leads to Spiritual life, it begets life in the soul. Please live that life, repent, humble yourself before God, admit your sins, ask for forgiveness and be blessed.