Repentance Required

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Exodus 10:16 – 17 Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you.  17Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.”

Four hundred years have passed since yesterday. No, you were not a victim of cryogenics. I’m referring to the time line between the life of Joseph and the coming of Moses to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery to the Egyptians. The current Pharaoh, or ruler of Egypt, is a cruel dictator who abuses the Jewish people for his own purposes. God has heard the cries of the people and has appointed Moses and Aaron to bring His message of deliverance to Pharaoh.

Everything about Pharaoh is self-centered and self-serving. His heart has become hardened to any form of compassion for people. When presented with the opportunity to let the people of Israel leave his land, he refuses. He even challenges the power of God with his own demonic miracles.

Moses began a series of plagues that would eventually force Pharaoh to submit to God’s authority. God turned the Nile River into blood. Pharaoh simply went into his house and ignored the problem. The plagues continued. God sent frogs and gnats and flies, but Pharaoh refused to listen to God. God sent more plagues. All the livestock of the Egyptians died. God covered all the Egyptians with boils. When Pharaoh refused to comply with God’s command to release His people, God made an important statement to Pharaoh. He said, “You are still exalting yourself.”

Here we discover the root of the problem that keeps us from experiencing true forgiveness from God – we exalt self over God. Remember that because it will be important in a moment.

When Pharaoh again rejects God’s direction, God sends a plague of hail that destroys anything and everything that was outside. Pharaoh finally admits he has sinned. But Moses is given insight into the true condition of his heart and says to Pharaoh, “I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.” Pharaoh’s admission of sin was still short of God’s forgiveness because it was only an admission of wanting relief from the consequences. He had not yet seen God for who He was. He had not come into agreement with God about his nature of sin.

Pharaoh models what far too many of us live each day – false repentance based solely on the hope of relief from pain and suffering. The proof is in the fact that as soon as the hail stopped, Pharaoh sinned again and turned his back on God. His intentions were clear. He would say whatever was necessary to accomplish his own desired outcomes.

So God sends yet another plague – locusts that covered the face of the land. That’s when Pharaoh again admits sin, but this time in what appears to be a more personal and sincere way. But he is not sincere. Pharaoh admits he has sinned, but he is asking for forgiveness for that sin only, and for God to remove from him the consequences of that plague only. His statement of confession and repentance is nothing more than an act of self-preservation. It will not be honored by God with forgiveness.

Pharaoh was not forgiven because he refused to repent of his sin nature. He may have admitted individual sins, but he only did so to avoid consequences or to be relieved from the pain and suffering that resulted from his choices. He never admitted to God that his very nature and character was sinful and needed to be forgiven and transformed. He wanted mercy for his actions, but permission to keep on being who he was. He was still exalting himself. God does not forgive anyone on those terms.

What about you? Do you believe you are a Christian because you have asked God to forgive your sins so that you can avoid the fire of hell? Or did you repent of who you are as a sinful person? If you have never come face to face with the holiness of God and seen your own deserved doom, then you are not saved. If you have never confessed your sin nature, not just individual sins, then you are not saved. If you have never come into agreement with God about the true condition of your heart, which is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), then you are not saved. If you have never surrendered all of self and crucified it on the cross of Christ so that you consider anything from your flesh as worthless and dead, then you are not saved. If you have only come to God so that you can learn to behave like a Christian and hopefully somehow earn the favor of God, then you are not saved.

HOWEVER, God will forgive those who agree with Him about their sinful condition and repent of it, turning from self to the Savior.  

The Scripture is clear. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and there is no other way. But grace cannot save if we hold on to anything from our own lives that we consider to have worth before God. Grace is the undeserved gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is not grace if we believe in any way that we deserve it. We are saved when we see ourselves exactly the way God sees us – guilty because of our sin nature and deserving of eternal death.

When we reach that point of humility, God will forgive us, save us, and exalt us to the glorious position of His child.

Salvation comes to the humble, and being truly humble means leaving everything of worth from your life on the altar of repentance, and receiving only the worth of God into your life.

Have you done that?

Pastor John