22 Feb REPENTANCE: A HEART TURNED TOWARDS THE LORD
I think we like to believe that putting our faith in God is a one-and-done thing. We confess our sin, profess faith in Jesus, and have assurance that we will be with Him in heaven for eternity. Salvation is a simple transaction, yes, but the Bible also has a lot to say about the rest of our lives as believers here on earth. The more we get to know God, the more we become aware of how far we are from His perfection. That’s exactly where our repentance journey begins.
When a person starts to understand the magnitude of grace they’ve been given by God, the natural response is repentance. That is, a complete reversal of their former ways. There is an initial repentance that leads to salvation, but after that, there is also a lifetime of turning from everyday struggles, big and small, on a journey to becoming more and more like Christ.
Psalm 51 gives us a beautiful picture of a repentant heart. It’s King David’s cry for mercy after his famous sin snowball of laziness, indulgence, adultery, deceit, and murder. The following are some elements of his prayer that can be applied in every believer’s life.
A repentant heart calls on God’s goodness. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (v.1)
We serve an abundantly kind and compassionate God. When we pray to Him for mercy, we can call on those forgiving characteristics to cover our brokenness and sin. His love is unfailing. That means we can’t do anything that will remove or lessen His great love for us. We need that comforting reminder when we’re broken over our failures.
A repentant heart is painfully aware of specific sin. “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight” (v.3-4)
“I’m sorry if I hurt you” is not the same thing as “I’m sorry I stuffed my hurt feelings, talked about you behind your back, and assumed the worst of you,” right? The same thing applies with God. If we want to truly turn from this sin we’re confessing, we have got to be specific about exactly what it has looked like. This will be painful. But it’s this gut-wrenching admission of guilt that characterizes this process of true repentance. Sin will hurt us and others, but it is ultimately God who we have sinned against.
A repentant heart asks to be cleaned. “wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (v.7)
After acknowledging your insufficiency, your brokenness, and your desperate need for God’s forgiveness, beg for renewal! Plead with God to give you a new mind, a willing spirit, a soft heart. God LOVES to answer the prayers of a broken heart. Just scroll through the stories here on Ebenezer Collective, and watch how God comes through in mighty ways for prayers just like this.
A repentant heart turns from sin. “grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (v.12b)
Unfortunately, left to ourselves, we’re fools. And “as a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” (Proverbs 26:11) So assume if you’ve struggled with this sin in the past, you will be tempted again in the future. Even the most regretful heart will try to turn back in a weak moment. Make a specific plan for that specific sin. Memorize scripture, get an accountability partner, start a recovery program. Simply the desire to change isn’t enough. Make a plan.
A repentant heart rejoices in redemption. “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.” (v.13-15)
Give God the credit for your new and improved self! Share your story of redemption with friends, family, and everyone you meet. You’ll be surprised how many of them are struggling with similar things. Talking about God’s work in your life sheds light into the darkness where sin likes to hide, and brings freedom to others. This is how God’s work is done. Broken people pointing each other to the Ultimate Healer.
Questions to Consider:
- What is the sin that kept coming to mind while reading this article?
- Could God be urging you to bring that sin into the light?
- Will you pray a bold prayer today, asking God to bring your heart to repentance?
Psalm 51, John 8:11, Romans 2:1-16
Re:Generation recovery program
Eric Mason’s sermon on repentance: