Posts Tagged ‘repentance’

2 Corinthians 7:10-12

In 2 Corinthians 7:10-12 Paul continues his explanation about why he did not regret sending his confrontational letter to the Corinthian church. He wanted repentance – a turning around and going the opposite way of sinful behavior. It sounds like a harsh word in the world we live in today. But it is an essential aspect of the Gospel – without it there can be no forgiveness of sin. “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” What was it that the Corinthian Christians had to repent of?  Take your pick!  It could have been any number of things, but no doubt it also included this: there were probably some “anti-Paul” people who criticized the absent apostle severely and unfairly, and the Corinthian Christians did not defend their godly spiritual father before these detractors.

Paul made the Corinthian Christians feel bad for their sin.  But he did it in a godly way.  He used the truth, not lies or exaggeration.  He was honest, not using hidden agendas and manipulation.  He simply told the truth in love. “For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.” Paul knew he could succeed in making them feel bad (sorrow).  But the relationship you have with that person will suffer loss.  You can win the “battle” yet lose the “war.”  Paul wanted to protect his relationship with the Corinthian Christians, so he would only make them sorry in a godly manner.

All the time he had repentance as the target outcome he was seeking. Repentance must never be thought of as something we must do before we can come back to God. Repentance describes what coming to God is.  You can’t turn towards God without turning from the things He is against. Spurgeon wrote “People seem to jump into faith very quickly nowadays.  I do not disapprove of that happy leap; but still, I hope my old friend repentance is not dead.  I am desperately in love with repentance; it seems to be to be the twin-sister to faith.” Paul was looking for the Corinthians to be set free from the impact of sin, and repentance is that path.

Paul again reminds them of his choice to write a letter rather than come in person. But the focus of his letter wasn’t to call out the ring leader in the church that was stirring people up against him. The purpose of the letter also wasn’t to make Paul and his team out to be victims. He wasn’t trying to take sides but rather to demonstrate his love and concern for the body of Christ. “So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong, but in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God.” Clarke wrote “From all appearance there was never a Church less worthy of an apostle’s affections than this Church was at this time; and yet no one ever more beloved.”

Proverbs 23

Proverbs 23 continues Solomon’s wisdom for us.  He begins by warning us about money.  In America for sure, money is the thing so many chase.  They believe it is the answer to all of life’s problems.  God has a different perspective: “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone”.  Money doesn’t fix anything.  It can’t solve our problems.  And when we focus all our efforts on acquiring it, we will only be disappointed.  We will only be frustrated and find that we have missed the important things in life.

He goes on to reiterate what he told us in the last chapter – that discipline of a child is important.  “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol”.  Not a ticket to beating your kids, but certainly a command to bring them up right.  Discipline is our job as parents, or grand parents for that matter.  That is why we are called adults – to act responsible in teaching kids right from wrong and that there is a price to pay for disobedience.  Better to learn it at a young age from loving parents, even if it means some pain, than to experience it much later in a way that causes lasting injury.

Solomon goes on to remind us that sin has a price and we should run from it.  “Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day”.  Far too often we tend to be drawn to sinners because we don’t see the cost of their disobedience.  We think that their sin is fun and has happened without cost, but sin always has a price on it.  We need to flee sin, and not envy sinners, but pray for them as they will have to give account for that sin at some point in the future.  We need to seek wisdom that will flow into our hearts.  “Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way”.  God’s truth needs to direct our heart.  It is the way we deal with the temptation of sin.

And how to we find that truth?  We need to listen to our parents, whose job it is to instruct us in God’s ways.  “Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old”.  The responsibility to speak truth to our kids never ends, even with age.  Sure the relationship changes, but parents need to continue to share God’s truth and their experiences in living it for their entire life.  And each of us need to pursue God’s truth.  Solomon says: “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding”.  There is much to seek.  There is much for us to desire.  And we need to wholeheartedly pursue it, making the investment to make it part of our life!

2 Samuel 24

2 Samuel 24 is action packed.  “The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel”.  God is irritated, and He told David to “Go number Israel and Judah….that I may know the number of the people”. God is taking stock and has David get his leaders to count.  It was a big job, and while Joab tried to stop the process, David prevailed.  It took “nine months and twenty days”. There was a lot of counting to do, in fact “in Israel there were 800,000 valiant men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were 500,000”.  Can you imagine counting that many people?  One at a time, all over the land.

But David figures out that God’s anger was his fault.  “David’s heart struck him after he had numbered the people”.  He realizes that God has a plan for destruction and wanted David to understand just how much it is going to cost.  Sin always has a great price tag.  We often don’t realize it – we may just ignore that truth – but David comes to his senses and understands that his sins are coming home to roost.   “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Lord, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have done very foolishly”.  It is a confession of sin.  But here is the sad reality – confession, even turning around and going the other way, does not stop the result of sin.  The cost still happens.

David is left with a choice to make.  God says “Three things I offer you. Choose one of them, that I may do it to you”.

–       “three years of famine come to you in your land

–       flee three months before your foes while they pursue you

–       three days’ pestilence in your land

He has to choose one of these rather bad outcomes to pay the price for his sin.  That is another reality of sin. The cost usually goes far beyond the sinner – it impacts people all over their patch.  It is always so costly to so many.  Sin is really carries a high price.  Death is the final outcome.  But along the way, the damage is unbelievable.

David picks the three days – and “the Lord sent a pestilence….there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000 men”.  What a price to pay.  God wasn’t done, but “the Lord relented from the calamity….it is enough; now stay your hand”.  David now becomes an intercessor as he puts himself between the people and God.  That is what intercession is all about.  David stands in the gap.  He says “Please let your hand be against me and against my father’s house”.  David is willing to take the punishment.  He wants to relieve those who are innocent from the punishment of his deeds.  We see the power of intercession many times in scripture.  And as it has been shown in other cases, God listened, and “the Lord responded to the plea for the land, and the plague was averted from Israel”.  This is true leadership in action.  David stands in the gap and prevents far more bloodshed.

Psalm 51

Psalm 51 is a chapter about the impact of sin.  The psalmist is writing about how God sees and deals with sin.  He begins by pleading for mercy – calling on God’s “steadfast love….abundant mercy”.  The good news for us is that we serve a God who never runs out of love.  And He is filled with abundant mercy.  Remember that mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve.  Scripture tells us that all of us are guilty of sin, and the wages of sin is death.  That is what we deserve, but by God’s mercy we can be set free from the eternal separation that sin will cause.

The psalmist talks about the ask we make and the things that God can do in regard to our sin.  We can be set free.  The psalmist begins by stating “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me”.  We have to begin by admitting that we are sinners.  It isn’t really open for discussion – we all sin.  So we need to confess, repent and seek His redemption.  God is there waiting for us to come to Him with a heart seeking His forgiveness.

When we do, we see these kind of responses from a loving and merciful God:

–       “wash me

–       Cleanse me

–       Purge me

–       Create in me a clean heart

–       Cast me not away

–       Restore to me the joy of your salvation

–       Uphold me with a willing spirit

–       Deliver me

God will set us free from the burden of sin – not the consequences – but the result.  He will cleanse us and make us white as snow.

And if you were thinking you could fix this by yourself – think again.  “For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart”.  God doesn’t want our sacrifice – he wants a broken and contrite heart.  He wants a heart that is dedicated to the Savior – a personal relationship between you and me the sinner, and Jesus Christ the sacrifice that is acceptable in His sight.  He wants us to get right with Him through the shed blood of His Son.  Jesus died to set us free.  All that is between us and that forgiveness is ourselves.  We have to receive the gift of grace and let Jesus be our Savior!

Psalm 32

Psalm 32 talks about one of the greatest gifts God gives mankind – the forgiveness of sin.  “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered”.  The reality is that all of us are sinners.  Scripture is very clear about that.  And it is also very clear that the price of sin is death.  Not just a bad day – death.  God has a standard that we are going to be held to – complete and total obedience to His law.  I know I’ve already missed that one – not just a little bit – I miss it every day.  So I have a sin problem.  And here’s a news flash – so do you.

So let’s accept the reality that sin is a big problem that needs to be dealt with.  God did create a solution for our sin – He sent His Son to the cross to give us the opportunity to receive Him through the gift of grace and be set free from sin.  Jesus is the answer.  He alone is what scripture talks about here when it says “blessed is the one….whose sin is covered”.  There is no other way to have your sin covered except the shed blood of Christ.  Anything less just won’t cut it when you stand before God on your judgment day.

But forgiveness from God is so much more.  “Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity”.  Human forgiveness doesn’t forget the transgression in most cases.  We might move on, but we don’t forget.  God does.  God “counts no iniquity” even around our sin.  He lets go when we receive His forgiveness.  That is so not a human response.  It all begins with confession.  “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity” is what the psalmist says.  Forgiveness doesn’t happen unless there is confession.  We have to come to God with admission of our sin.  We have to stop pretending that no one knows – especially God.  He does.  We have to confess to be forgiven.

But along with confession we also need to repent.  That means to turn and go the other way.  The psalmist is clear that God will help us know what to do.  “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”.  God has so much wisdom for us to absorb and follow.  But we have to be teachable.  We have to be willing to seek His face.  We must not be “like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle”.  Stubbornness is not next to godliness.  God wants to help us repent and live in obedience to His will.  But we have to be willing to listen and learn.  And then we need to trust in the Lord and walk in obedience.  God is watching.  “I will counsel you with my eye on you”.  Life matters.  We need to live it God’s way and live it well!

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