Last week I went horseback riding and I was SO looking forward to it… the only thing I wasn’t prepared for was that it was -19C with the windchill. I am a roofer, I work outside in all elements, but that day was my undoing. I was on that horse and all I could think about was turning around and getting back to the barn. I could not stay warm for the life of me and my message to my horse “Captain Kirk” was ‘beam me up Scotty”…get me outta here! It was serious, I honestly felt that I was going to throw up, my hands were tingling and there was no feeling in my feet. When we returned to the barn, I was huddled by the fire until I could feel again.
In many ways this experience relates to how I feel about repentance. It is a 180 degree turn out of the cold, out of the place where I have lost all sensitivity, a place where if sin runs it’s full course, make me vomit to a place of real revelation to the effect it has had on me.
In the Old Testament Hebrew, the word for repentance is shub. It is found over 1000 times and the vast majority of occurrences refer to a literal change of direction. There are 200 times where it refers to Israel or God turning toward or away from one another. It is a turning away from idolatry and from cold-hearted disobedience.
There are two terms in the New Testament, nacham which means to be sorry, or to pity or console oneself and more closely translated, metanoia in the Greek. It literally means to change one’s mind or purpose, to repent. It is a reversal of thinking. You see yourself differently.
When we get off track as Christians, we have an internal GPS, the Holy Spirit, who is quick to remind us to ‘recalculate’! We also need to remember that there is nothing that we could ever do in and of ourselves to make ourselves acceptable before God. It is a coming to God that says , “you know what, all other roads lead me to dead ends.”
Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness leads you to repentance ( is intended to turn you from your sin?)
Conviction of sin is one of the most uncommon things that ever happens to a person because our natural tendency is to ignore our sin or cover it up. Conviction is a good thing and it happens through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. John 16:8. The Holy Spirit brings the realization of ultimately what we are doing. When we choose to sin, we are saying God, I don’t trust you to meet my needs so I will take matters into my own hands.
“Against you, You only, have I sinned, and done evil in your sight.” Psalm 51:4
The wonders of conviction of sin, complete forgiveness and becoming holy are so intertwined in bringing joy and freedom into our lives. We reveal the power of God when we choose to move in the opposite direction that our sin was once leading us and by the grace of God we are now blazing a new trail.
Anything less is just simply feeling bad for the consequences of my actions, but not fully ready to leave the path that I am selfishly on.
So, a great exchange begins by moving from just being sorry to doing a 180 degree turn by the power of the Holy Spirit.
I’ll never forget how one person showed me how they truly had repented of a drug habit. They said, “Jack, what I do now is look down the road to where my habit takes me. I look beyond the instant gratification to the place where I become really sick, hungry and broke. I recognize where my actions will lead me. I remember that feeling, the pounding in my head, the hunger pangs in my stomach, the feeling in my spirit to know that I have zero cash and I know I don’t want to go there again.”
The entrance into the kingdom of God is through the sharp, sudden pains of repentance colliding with man’s respectable “goodness.” Then the Holy Spirit, who produces these struggles, begins the formation of the Son of God in the person’s life (see Galatians 4:19). This new life will reveal itself in conscious repentance followed by unconscious holiness, never the other way around. The foundation of Christianity is repentance. Strictly speaking, a person cannot repent when he chooses— repentance is a gift of God. The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.
So, what are we asking God to exchange in 2016 as affirmed at Church at the Manor this month!
· Exchange my just feeling sorry to a repentance, real tears and a real turnaround!
· Exchange my weakness to His strength
· Exchange my pride to humility
· Exchange my anger to self-control
· Exchange my self-defensiveness for trust
· Exchange my lust for love
· Exchange my hate for acceptance
· Exchange my disbelief for belief
· Exchange my fear to boldness