Beauty of Repentance - Come clean before God!
Far too many Christians today are walking around with things hidden in their heart that are eating them alive spiritually. Unconfessed sins break down our faith, destroy our confidence in Christ, and rob us of our peace and joy. Not to mention, unrepented sin can cause a whole flurry of spiritual problems in our lives.
Proverbs 28:13, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
Psalms 38:3-8, "...Neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long. For my loins are filled with a loathsome disease: and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and sore broken: I have roared by reason of the disquietness of my heart."
Many Christians simply say, "Lord, forgive me of all my sins", but continue to hide and cover up sins from their past. Do you honestly think that God honors this behavior? I don't think so. Let's take a look at what King David said about hiding sin in our hearts:
Psalms 32:3, "When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long." (NLT)
Am I saying that we must go back through each sin in our past and cover every dead work? No! All I'm saying is that we need to search our hearts to make sure that there is no sin being hidden or covered up that we may not remember or be aware of right now. Covering up, justifying or hiding sin in our hearts is the opposite of true repentance. True repentance brings it to the surface, confesses it as sin, and then forsakes it.
King David knew the importance of making sure his heart was clean before the Lord; he even asked the Lord to search his heart and see if there be anything hidden that needed to be brought out into the open:
Psalms 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
The repentance of sin is a very important, but often overlooked part of the gospel. Jesus made it clear that repentance and remission of sin is a foundation that we cannot overlook...
Luke 24:47, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Matthew 3:6, "And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins."
What does it mean to repent?
Acts 3:19, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
If we look up the word repent in the above verse in NT Greek, we find the word metanoeo, which translates to:
"To think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction)"
To repent means to turn from or change your mind about something. We need to change our mind about our sin and forsake it. We need to confess it as sin, and ask God's forgiveness for our failure, and we will be forgiven. God's Word promises that when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us of whatever we've done that was wrong. In other words, regardless of what you've done, if you will give it to the Lord, confess and forsake it, you can receive mercy.
1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
What happens when we repent?
God loves us more deeply than I think we'll ever know, but He hates our sin with a passion. That's why He sent Jesus to die for us, so that our sin could be removed. Sin forms a wall between man and God, even in a believer's life. The Blood of Jesus is the only thing capable of removing such a wall. When we repent (confess and forsake our sin), it opens the flood-gates to receive our heavenly Father's rich blessings and goodness in our lives!
Psalms 32:5-8, "Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.' And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly confess their rebellion to you while there is time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment. For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.You surround me with songs of victory. The Lord says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." (NLT)
Few stories in the Bible give us a clearer picture of God's attitude towards us when we repent and turn back to Him, than the story of the Prodigal's Son:
Luke 15:1-32, "Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. 8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbors together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. 11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."
The book of Jonah is well known for the part about a whale swallowing a man for 3 days, but the purpose of this book is much different. Nineveh was a very sinful city full of wickedness, when God's anger against their wickedness grew until He was ready to destroy the whole city. However, God didn't want to destroy the city, so He sent them a messenger by the name of Jonah. Jonah rebelled against God, so God had to bring the whale on the scene to straighten him out. Jonah then went to the city, and delivered unto them the message that God gave him. The people took heed and feared the Lord, so they turned from their wicked ways, and repented before God. Even the king had a heart of repentance, and showed his sorrow by stripping off his royal clothes and sitting on a heap of ashes...
Jonah 3:6, "For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes."
This wicked city turned from their ways, and repented. As a result, God's heart went out to them, and He had mercy on them. He did not destroy the city, because He saw that the people were sorry for their sins.
Jonah 3:10, "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
The beauty of being forgiven
When we repent of our sins today, the Blood of Jesus washes them away, so much so, that it's as if we have never sinned! In Romans 3:24, it speaks of man being justified by the grace of God...
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."
If you look up the word justified in the verse above, it takes us back to the NT Greek word dikaioo, which means...
"To render (that is, show or regard as) just or innocent: - free, justify (-ier), be righteous."
This means that if we are justified or forgiven of a sin, then it's as if we've never even done the sin in the first place! Or as Psalms 103:12 tells us...
Psalms 103:12, "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."
What is God asking of us concerning our sin?
God isn't asking us to do 100 push-ups, live with sickness or disease, or live with the bondage of our sin. He's asking us to come clean and admit to our faults, then turn from those ways and forsake them. He desires to wash us clean, remove the stain of sin, and bless us as His children. But when we hold onto our sin, cover it up, try to excuse or justify it, then His hands are tied. He wants us to come clean and receive forgiveness, so that we can be reconciled with Him and experience His goodness in our lives!
Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Joel 2:12-13, "Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil."
Make a way for the Lord!
I wrote a teaching a while ago about John the Baptist, and it demonstrated how John was preparing a way for the Lord by bringing the people to repentance. The same is true in our lives today in that repentance makes a way for the Lord's goodness to flow in our lives.
Matthew 3:1-3, "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
Through repentance, we make a way for the Lord in our lives. We open ourselves up to His goodness, mercy and blessings! The only person who has something to lose is Satan!