By Pastor Mitch Horton | November 2001 | Posted in • Archives | (0) Comments
Last month, I began discussing the importance of repentance. I mentioned that repentance is one of the foundations of our walk with God found in Hebrews 6:1. Before we can have “faith toward God” we must “repent from dead works.”
The Lord is drawing us as the body of Christ to Himself in this hour of history. And He is desirous that we commit ourselves wholeheartedly to Him so that He can manifest His delivering power through us to the world!
Last month, I shared that repentance really means to change your mind about something. And that “change of mind” translates into a change of lifestyle! When the Spirit of God finds a repentant heart, dynamic life change can occur.
Repentance causes the soil of our hearts to become cultivated ground for the seed of God’s Word to germinate in and bear fruit! Without repentance from our sinful lifestyles, mindsets, and motives, our hearts are really like a fallow, unplowed field. The seed of the Word may fall on the ground of the heart, but it will produce no lasting fruit. That’s the reason why many who pray to receive Jesus as Savior never change. They have no mind to change. They want Jesus and their old sinful lifestyle. And the truth is that they can’t have both. Jesus said that to come to Him, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24-25). He was really saying that we must repent of our old way of life, that is, be willing to forsake it, and be willing to allow Him to invade our “everyday” and change the way we conduct life’s affairs.
We must repent when we first come to Jesus and receive the new birth, and God desires that we live in a state of constant repentance, or live a lifestyle of repentance. That simply means that we allow the Holy Spirit moment-by-moment access into our heart life and give Him permission to challenge every thought and action of life! And that state of repentance brings a continual manifestation of God’s power and presence into our lives!
I would like to share with you seven steps to repentance found in David’s prayer in Psalm 51. This Psalm reveals David’s prayer of repentance after Nathan the prophet had pronounced him guilty of adultery and murder.
The first step to repentance is to completely acknowledge your guilt. “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (Psalm 51:3). Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1), and confession is the first step toward mending our relationship with Him. We must lay the blame for our sin on no one but ourselves. We often shift the responsibility for our actions onto others or onto our environment. Godly repentance places the responsibility for our sin entirely on us alone.
The second step is to admit that we have offended God. Our sin is really a sin against God and His holiness. “Against You, You only have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Psalm 51:4). When we have a repentant heart, we realize that we have not only hurt others, and ourselves, but we have wronged our Creator. It is His standard that we are to use to measure our lives. This helps remove the tendency toward comparing our behavior to others, or having the attitude that says, “well, at least I’m not as bad as others.”
The third step in repentance is to declare that God is not to be blamed for our sin. “That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge” (Psalm 51:4b). We must renounce any thought that links God to our failure. He is never to be blamed.
The fourth step is to eliminate any claim to our own righteousness. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). We must own our personal unworthiness to stand in His presence. It’s not our good works; it’s the grace of God that helps in times of need.
The fifth step is to make a commitment to forsake sin and pursue right living. “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your generous Spirit. Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You” (Psalm 51:12-13). We can’t go forward and look back at the same time. The angel told Lot’s family not to look back to see the destruction as they left the land of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife looked back and it cost her dearly!
The sixth step is to humble ourselves before God. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Humility is a character trait that is very precious to God. Humility actually draws God’s ability into your weakness. Paul said, “when I am weak then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). The Lord promises to lift us up if we will only humble ourselves under His mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6). We must personally break down the walls of pride and allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us and enable us to walk with God.
The seventh and final step in repentance is to ask God for mercy and expect it! This is what Psalm 51 is all about. God’s response to our brokenness and repentance is that He floods us with His ability, His Grace, His help, His compassion, and His righteousness!
We need God’s power to live in these exciting and dangerous days. And repentance is the key to maintaining the glow of His presence daily. Remember that “times of refreshing” come from the presence of the Lord only after we have repented! (See Acts 3:20-21).
John Milton described repentance as “the golden key that opens the palace of eternity.” If you’re a believer, make repentance a part of your lifestyle so that you can daily enjoy the refreshing waters of the presence of God. If you have not yet experienced salvation, I urge you, bow down in repentance to the Lord Jesus and give Him your life today! He is waiting to clothe your weakness with His strength.
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