“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance? But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism,” [Romans 2:1-11]
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” [Acts 2:36-38]
A word that has generally fallen out of usage in the English language is “penitent.” A penitent person is someone who is in the habit of seeking God’s forgiveness and is sensitive to a need for personal repentance. A well-known evangelist recently observed that the majority of preaching in recent years has lacked the teaching of repentance. Without repentance, there can be no change and our prayers become ineffective.
I love to read about the forefathers of the United States. Contrary to recent teaching that our forefathers were secularists (those who try to remove all vestiges of religion –akin to atheism), the majority of our forefathers were indeed Christian and sought the blessings of God on all of their endeavors. Up until the advent of the Industrial Revolution, presidents, justices and representatives called on the American people to ask God’s forgiveness. They understood that our nation cannot receive the favor of heaven without first confessing sins and asking forgiveness; this was an axiom (generally understood fact).
On a personal level, we cannot expect our prayers to be effective unless we first confess that we are sinners, we have sinned and that we are in great need of the Lord’s help. However, as many recovery-oriented services tell us: We first have to acknowledge that we have a problem. And Jesus has told us that if we intend to seek God’s favor and forgiveness, then we first need to forgive others. But it’s a two-way street: We cannot forgive others very well unless we know that we also are in great need of forgiveness.
The world has become comfortable with personal sin while condemning the sins of others. People who are comfortable with sin become blind to their need for God’s help. And our nation and our communities have become blind to the need for God’s favor. Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who brings conviction –which leads to repentance. But the Spirit will not bring conviction unless God’s people see the desperate state of the world around them and are willing to invest time in prayer to ensure it happens. And repentance is a change in perception –that God is right and sin is abhorrent (disgusting). Repentance brings us close to God while pride and acceptance of human understanding drives God away from us.
Jesus can only help the sick –those who know that they need a doctor. We follow Jesus, which means that we see what He sees: Sin, all sin, is deadly and makes us sick. The only path to recovery is through humility –acknowledging that we are wrong and God is Right. Then seeking God’s forgiveness while forgiving others who have wronged us because we are all guilty. I hear many people attacking the President in recent days. But how many are praying for him? We are all sinners, as Romans says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” This is what the Word of God says. That means that I am a sinner and I need a lot of help from God. But the day that I start to believe that I’m “better than others” or “much better than I used to be” a deadly pride can creep in. The truth is, I still need a Savior. I haven’t gained my “get out of hell free card” so that I can coast through the rest of life, thinking that I’m righteous. No, I’m made righteous by Jesus –and without Him, I’ll be destroyed. There is no one righteous –no, not even one. If I remember this and if I live with this wisdom, then it is much easier to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness and for the forgiveness of others. I don’t deserve to be forgiven, but I’m counting on God’s character (His mercy, His grace and His love) to save me from myself. And God is counting on me to forgive like He does. But I won’t be doing this very well and I won’t be seeking forgiveness unless I am in a constant state of repentance: I must be penitent. But my confidence and ability to repent is not strong because of how “religious” I am; as the Scriptures say, “It’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.” We wouldn’t change our mind about sinfulness or seek God’s forgiveness if we believed that He doesn’t have the power to help us –but He does! It’s His kindness that inspires a desire to change –with the help of the Spirit of God. He is Merciful, abounding in love, slow to anger, just and good… “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance,” [2 Peter 3:9].
Sinners need a Savior. Our world is comfortable with sin. The wages of sin is death –eternal death. Sin separates. God is merciful. Sin is taken away by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If we confess our sins and acknowledge God as Savior, He is faithful to save us. Isn’t it time to repent, on behalf of ourselves (none are perfect), on behalf of our church (no church is perfect), on behalf of our nation (no nation is perfect) and on behalf of the world (the world is not perfect) because God is Mighty to save? (God is Perfect) and ask for His Light to reveal darkness and heal us all?
Pray with confidence,