The Joy of Repentance
Last week, I wanted to write a post about repentance in the SBC & how we can take action after it. But, I felt compelled to wait because it must start at the local church level. So, on Sunday, I preached on God’s unwavering call for His people to repent and live for His glory. It is through our personal and congregational repentance that we can enjoy the power of God’s salvation in our lives.
Do we actually live as if God is King over everything? In generalizations, we say a resounding “yes.” But the deeper issue is whether or not we live as if God is King over everything including me. In that, we waver. Abraham Kuyper said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” With that in mind, take a moment to read the letter from Jesus to the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:14-22. In the passage, we find only two characters.
The Self-Deceived Church. Laodicea had once been a town that no one mentioned. But, under the work of the Roman Empire, they gained prominence. The city was the judicial center for the region. It had gained wealth through refining dying processes for fabrics and producing high-end wool. Doctors in the town had invented an eye salve that was well-known throughout the region. The town was wealthy, influential, and known for the healing arts. On top of it all, they were a religiously pluralistic town with idols to Men Karou and Zeus. They had everything they wanted but did not desire Who they actually needed.
Sin had had its way with them. They were infamously lukewarm to God. So, Jesus introduced Himself as “the Amen.” Essentially, He said, “I am enough. I am all you need. I am the end of the statement.” But they were self-deceived picturing themselves as wealthy, well-off, and needing nothing. In reality, they were wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. When we hold on to sin, so are we. Their lukewarm nature made them worthy of only God’s vomiting.
It reminds me of the statement by Dallas Willard: “The gospel of sin management produces vampire Christians who want Jesus for His blood and little else.” They only wanted just enough Jesus to get our of condemnation. Their lives were comfortable and did not need anything else.
Our false belief in a gospel of behavior modification actually leads us into more sin because we have the wrong standards. So we have sin rampant in our lives. Angry spirit. Pride. Deceit and lying. Sexual lust and acting upon it. Racism. Selfishness. Backbiting and divisiveness. Drunkenness and gluttony. Bitterness. Laziness to God’s mission of saving the lost. Our sin is sickening to God. The holy God will not tolerate it, so why do we?
We tolerate it because we think we can control it. To that misguided perspective, I have a definite charge for you. Sin is not a pet to tame. It is a beast to slay. We must stop trying to control and hide our sins. When you do so, you give sin more power over you. We must cast it under the light of Christ so we can experience His forgiveness and healing.
The Pursuing Savior. In verses 18-20, we see how Jesus works. He gives advise to the church. It is not an edict but an invitation. Consider the power in this moment… you have an invitation from the King of Glory to get what He has. Rather than the wealth of the world, Jesus wants to give you the gold of His righteousness that is completely refined. You can have your spiritual shame and nakedness covered by the white garments of Christ’s purity draped over you. Rather than relying on the invented eye salve of a few human doctors, your spiritual blindness must be cured by the spiritual work of Christ to give you clear vision of Who He is, how He works, and what He does in us. It is by His discipline that these occur. Because He loves us, Jesus calls us back to Himself that we might humble ourselves in repentance. And if we will answer, we’ll have Jesus come in to dine with us.
The biblical image of Jesus knocking at our door has most often been associated with evangelizing the lost. In this passage, however, it is about Jesus reviving the saved. He knocks at the door of the Laodicean church that He can restore them to the life intended by His transforming power. If your life or your church is drifting and powerless, why is it? Did the Gospel lose its power? Did Jesus abandon you in your time of need? No. It is because we grew lukewarm to our love for Christ.
The Joy of Repentance. Jesus said to them – and says to us – “Be zealous and repent.” We must run after it. Don’t wait for it to happen. Pursue repentance immediately. At times, people picture an angry God whenever the word “repent” is used. It is a poor picture. Because of His kindness, God calls us to repent. He knows the destructive nature of sin and the restoring power of the Gospel. Will you repent?
Read Psalm 32 and you will see the portrait of joy that comes from laying your soul bare before God. Our Lord desires to bring you to the joy of His salvation. We have more sin than we can bear but God has more mercy than we can imagine. So repent well.
Repentance is not confessing lesser sins so you can avoid root issues. It is not generalized prayers refusing to name your specific sin to God. It is not an emotional activity to relieve guilty feelings. It is not trying to change your behavior by your own willpower. It is certainly not confessing sin without renewing your supreme love for Christ. Repentance must look something like this:
- Specifically confess your sin to God.
- Return to your first love by prioritizing God’s rule in your life.
- Commit to obedience and holiness.
- Act immediately upon the mission that holds up God’s glory and works for others’ good.
Repentance is what we need. I need it. Our church needs it. All of our churches need it. The SBC needs it. We need revival among God’s people so that He can use us for spiritual awakening throughout the world. Seek the joy of repentance today.