Thursday, January 16, 2020
“I saw what you did!”
When I was a child and heard that statement directed at me – from anyone – my heart cringed in fear. I must admit that I still feel that way at times. The fear I feel is the product of knowing that I have just done something wrong, and I have been caught. What will happen to me? How bad is the punishment going to be? What will other people think of me? What will this do to my reputation and my potential?
Let’s stop a minute and evaluate those responses, for all of them are wrong responses to sin. We have believed a lie if we think any of them are correct. You see, every one of them reflects the belief that when we sin, we sin mainly against ourselves. Our fear of punishment is self-protection. Our fear of being discredited is pride. Our normal response to the fears of punishment and personal loss is to justify what we did, and, if necessary, lie. Why? Because we are primarily concerned about self.
God doesn’t forgive sin based on how bad it makes us feel, but rather our knowledge of who He is and how our sin stands opposed to Him. God forgives sin based on repentance. Repentance requires the sacrifice of self. Repentance requires turning away from the sin regardless of the consequences. Repentance demands humility which brings us God’s justification, rather than pride which seeks self-justification.
Isaiah 57:18-19 “I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the lips of the mourners …”
God has promised to forgive, even after He has seen what we have done. He promises to heal our lives. He promises to guide us again, and restore comfort to us. He promises to create praise on our lips where there had been mourning.
Aha! There it is – the mourning over our sin. God cannot bring forgiveness and restoration to a life that is not repentant – a life that is not broken and mourning before Him. Not broken over the pain of the consequences. Not mourning over some form of personal loss. But brokenness and mourning over how we have stood and acted in opposition to God.
Repentance is much more than simply admitting we did it. It involves confession and conformity. In confession. We come into agreement with God about what happened. In conformity, we choose to reject the sin and take action to conform our thinking and behavior to the holiness of God.
In Luke 3:8 Jesus says, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
In Acts 26:20 Paul says, “…that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
There must be evidence in our lives of true repentance. Here are four ways to know if we are truly repentant:
- The absence of rationalization – we will cease to defend our actions
- Genuine sorrow – a broken heart before God, not just in front of people
- Open confession of our sin – we will no longer seek to hide what we did from the public.
- Restitution – we willingly seek out those hurt and offended by our sin and make it right.
If you are like me, we have defended our actions, justified our choices, and lied to protect ourselves from the pain of the consequences. Have we ever been truly repentant? Have we been more concerned about how we feel than about what we have done in rebellion against the grace of God?
When we repent of sin, the Holy Spirit will come and restore comfort to us. He will assure us of the Lord’s forgiveness and healing. He will bring peace when we no longer defend ourselves and are broken in His presence. He will forgive us, even though He has seen what we have done.
Open your heart and your life to Him. Expose all the sin. Throw yourself helplessly at the mercy of the Judge, for He is ready and willing to forgive you, and lift you into a joyous relationship with the Father.