Repentance – the path to Comfort

Before we dig in today, I want to state that this is one of my core teachings. I share this message when I have the opportunity because I truly believe it’s a missing note in the current chord of Christianity. If we get this idea planted in our hearts and stop resisting this wonderful gift the Spirit offers, we can experience true victory over sin in our lives and the real comfort that comes with it. So, here goes… enjoy!


Blessed are those who mourn… – Matthew 5:4

How could mourning ever lead to blessing? Mourning about what? Is Jesus talking about people who have lost loved ones? Blessed are the grieving? Is He talking about sad people here?

Once again, the answer is an emphatic NO.

We are talking about people who realize their need for God, the poor in spirit. As they perceive the great distance between their current state and the holy God a godly sorrow–mourning–overtakes them. This sorrow leads them down a straight path directly to repentance.

So then, what is repentance? Does it happen at the front of a church? Is it tears at the altar? Is it just saying I’m sorry? Does it simply mean to change your mind, as it is commonly taught today? Again, no. Repentance is one of the most basic yet most important parts of the Christian life. Without repentance, you can never achieve true freedom from sin. Repentance is Christianity 101.

Repentance – a biblical definition from 2 Corinthians 7:10-11

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things, ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. – 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 KJV

Sorrow of the world produces death: There are a couple types of sorrow that will kill you. One is self-pity. Feeling sorry for yourself will put you into a downward spiral from which there is no return. Another deadly type of sorrow is that which is born of condemnation. The Greek word translated devil in our New Testament means accuser. Condemnation comes from the accuser of the brethren, and it shows up as a general feeling of unworthiness. Condemnation is vague and depressing.

Godly sorrow which works repentance: In contrast, the Holy Spirit convicts.

Conviction is specific and actionable. Conviction always comes with the gift of repentance. That’s right, gift! Repentance is a gift from God. God offers to turn your sin and weakness into strength and victory.

And now Paul walks step by step through the process of repentance.

what carefulness it wrought in you: You are careful not to get yourself into situations when you can even be tempted by this sin. Job speaks of a covenant made with his eyes. Back in the 80s before Disney bought downtown Manhattan, I had a job where I had to walk right through the sleaziest part of town. I made a covenant with my eyes and glued them to the sidewalk. I did not want to puff out my spiritual chest and believe that I could resist. I took the extra effort to protect the gates of my soul.

Solomon offers a six-part plan to avoid temptation:

Do not enter the path of the wicked, And do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it; Turn away from it and pass on. ~ Proverbs 4:14-15

In the specific area of your repentance, this is the way to go – find a way to get around it. Remember also that Paul tells us:

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

what clearing of yourselves: You get rid of everything that pertains to this sin you are fleeing. You don’t keep a stash of porn, or a bottle of booze around for when you lose your resolve. You clear the decks.

what indignation: You take offense at anything or anyone that would draw you, or others, into this temptation. You actually see this sin as the enemy of your soul. You realize that this sin will kill you if you give it any quarter. You have a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude toward that which once held your reigns.

what fear: You have a healthy realization that sin in general, and this sin specifically, ends in death. Hear the words of James:

Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. ~ James 1:15

Understand, there is a fear that is right – not a terror, but a respect and understanding. The fear of the Lord is probably best defined as an unwillingness to offend God. It’s not a fear of punishment, but a fear of separation. Remember when Jesus was in the garden, and prayed for deliverance from the cup He was facing. The thing He wanted to avoid was not the physical pain, but the separation He knew He would face as He became sin for us.

what vehement desire: Vehement would be a good adjective for a raging forest fire, like those that hit the West Coast of the US in dry seasons. Repentance brings a ferocious desire for purity.

what zeal: Zealots usually look crazy. We all know someone who is zealous about something. Some people are zealous with their exercise routines, and some with their finances. The ones that make the news are those who are zealous for their religion and blow something up. I met a man who would chain himself to abortion tables, or clinic doors because he was zealous for the unborn. In the case of repentance – you are ready to be outspoken about the evil of this thing, and you will do whatever you can to dissuade others from taking up this sin.

what revenge!: Finally revenge. Your passion leads others from going this way, and so you break the power of this sin in your life and in the lives of those you influence.

All that being said, true repentance is actually a gift of God according to God’s Word in Acts 5:31 and 2 Timothy 2:25. God only gives gifts He intends for you to use, and God’s gifts are powerful. When you repent in this way, God’s intention and promise is that you can be free from the sin He brought to your attention.

So, how do I know if I have been given repentance? You will know if you sense conviction. Conviction is a specific realization that something you have done has offended God. Not some vague condemnation that you are not good enough, but you know that you know that what you did is wrong. If you have been given repentance, that means God will give you the freedom from that sin once you repent. True repentance can set you free from sin, as God leads you through these steps.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by today.

Walk in the light.

Ben

The Kingdom of Heaven

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:3

On my old blog, I spent a few weeks talking about the kingdom of God. I’m not going to re-post that series right now, but I thought this one post held some fun insight into the what the Kingdom of God looks like.

Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, speaks about the kingdom of heaven more than any other theme. I’m quite intrigued as I look at what He has to say about it.

What is the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ like?

Jesus said it’s like:

a man who sowed good seed in his field. – Matthew 13:24

a mustard seed – Matthew 13:31

leaven – Matthew 13:33

a treasure hidden in the field – Matthew 13:44

a merchant seeking fine pearls, – Matthew 13:45

a dragnet cast into the sea – Matthew 13:47

a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” – Matthew 13:52

a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. – Matthew 18:23

a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. – Matthew 20:1

a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. – Matthew 22:2

ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. – Matthew 25:1

Where is He going with this? I’m intrigued. Are you? These Beatitudes will give us a sure-footed path directly into this wonderful kingdom of heaven.

cropped-BenHeadshotCome back again soon.

Don’t forget to shine.

Ben

Who’s Your Master?

Matt 6 19-24

 

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.Matthew 6:19-24

The Son and His Kingdom

Today we get a good dose of theology from this simple quote and how the writer applies it. Actually, verse 8 and 9 are one quote from Psalm 45, but we’re going to do some picking around and about them. This is more than enough for today.

But of the Son He says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. – Hebrews 1:8 NASB

Many skeptics and many less than orthodox sects and cults deny one simple claim of Christianity, the deity of Christ. They say He never claimed deity. They’ll tell you it just the traditions of man that assign deity to Jesus. But the writer of this letter apparently didn’t get the memo.

He pulls in a quote from Psalm 45 which is talking about the eternal throne of God and specifically assigns it to Jesus the only begotten Son. The whole point of this passage is to demonstrate that Jesus is superior to angels. What good is a quote about God’s throne if He’s not talking about Jesus. Jesus is the Son of God and has His place enthroned at the right hand of God the Father.

So get it settled in your heart and mind. Jesus is God. He is divine. He is eternal. He is all that goes with being God.

He is also “forever and ever.” I love that the Psalmist felt that forever didn’t communicate how long Christ will reign. He needed another “ever” in the equation to clarify just how eternally Jesus’ will reign.

One more thing, righteousness. The kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. In the mouth of two or three witnesses–ok five–but who’s counting.

There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this. – Isaiah 9:7

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10

For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:20

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33

for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. – Romans 14:17

The kingdom Jesus came preaching stretches on for all eternity and it’s standard is righteous.

If that doesn’t strike you as good news, it’s because you’re not privy to one little secret. Yes, it’s a kingdom of righteousness, but all the righteousness is His.

Paul talks about this in Philippians 3,

and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, – Philippians 3:9

It’s not our works of the law and good deeds that make us fit for God’s kingdom, it’s the blood of the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. Jesus blood shed for us gives us entry into this kingdom. And our membership is enteral.

So maybe a kingdom of righteousness sounds like a bore to you.

Come back Monday, and we’ll take that notion apart.

cropped-BenHeadshotThanks for stopping by.

Come back again soon.

Ben

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