When a nation, church, family or individual forsake God’s holy commandments there are only two options: continue in rebellion or repent. Rebellion is a whole lot easier, just like it is easier for a stone to sink into water. Repentance, on the other hand, runs contrary to our sinful nature and we’d much rather keep sinking like a stone, because it is all we’ve ever known. However, the only rescue from the calamity that is sure to come when either an individual or organization is walking in rebellion to God’s law is repentance.
Repentance, we must understand, is not a “once-off” thing. It is a discipline of soul. Further, we must remember that it is a proof of God’s goodness and kindness towards us (Rom. 2:4). We, as Christians, often think that we repent once (at some alter, with tears streaming down our cheeks) and then we are handy-dandy from then on out. However, God, in sanctifying you, will lovingly bring you to a deeper understanding of Himself, and in coming to understand Him we come to understand how far we’ve fallen from His likeness. When we realize how out of whack we are, the godly response is repentance.
The more you know Him, the deeper and more significant the repentance; not only that, but the broader the repentance becomes as well. A man of God of many years will have a greater hatred of sin, a greater grief over his failings, a greater sorrow over the sins of his nation, church and family, a greater tenderness of conscience, a greater swiftness in repentance both of his and other’s sins. A godly man does not necessarily continue to repent of the same sinful pattern or habit, for he walks in the victory and triumph of the cross; however, he comes to know God’s holiness more fully, and therefore he sees deeper and deeper layers of sin from which he knows he must repent.
If you find yourself confessing the same sin over and over, it is likely that your repentance is an immature and unbiblical form of repentance and the solution is to gaze upon the purity and holiness of Christ in His Word and the Work of the Cross. However, if you find yourself grieving over sin’s subtleties within you, and with sorrow and haste repenting of it, forsaking it, and pleading with God to “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities (Psalm 51:9),” then you are displaying a growing spiritual maturity.
Sin is deceptive, and it never comes alone. The sin in one person or institution often times leads to other sins in other people and institutions. Sin in one person will lead us to justify equal and/or opposite sins in our life. In our current culture we are watching our nation sinking fast, and the danger in decrying homosexual mirage, government over-reach, and abortion is that we may very easily fall victim to the subtler sins of self-righteousness, pride, self-pity, and legalism. The danger of a husband being selfish and dabbling in things that take him away from the home (work, hobbies, another woman, porn, etc.), is that it will tempt his wife to punish him by with-holding her attention and affection and place it elsewhere. But, then the danger of a wife idolizing health food, child-rearing, and the latest homeopathic remedy blog is that her husband will be tempted to roll his eyes and continue to find satisfaction elsewhere. The danger of licentiousness in one party is that it tempts another party towards legalism. The danger of selfishness and greed in one party is that it tempts another party towards pride in piety and self-made holiness. The fault lies with both parties, each for their own sins, and the only hope of getting out of this sort of downward spiral is to repent and believe.
Sin doesn’t ever happen in a vacuum. A Church neglecting to preach the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ should not be surprised that it soon lives in a culture full of sin; the Church’s sin of unfaithfulness to God’s order to preach the Gospel will result in a society and culture of lust, greed, and self-preservation. The Church, if not careful, will see the decadence in the culture (which decadence has result from her unfaithfulness) and fall into the sin of self-pity for how “un-influential” she has become, and then begin to remedy the solution not by returning to Gospel proclamation, but by creating policies, resolutions and PAC’s of self-righteousness.
The need for the hour is biblical repentance. It starts with you, it starts with me. The world will not repent, if it does not see the Church walking in biblical repentance. What is biblical repentance? Boldly proclaiming, there is none righteous, no not one . . . I am wrong, God is right, He alone is my hope of salvation. This alone will turn the tide, and even this will be a gift of God. Happily, it is a gift He has promised He will give, and history shows us that He gives it at the moment we least expect. Which is likely right around the corner.