I made the case in my last blog that we may be embracing sin, because we think we can control our sin nature. This is an idea not lost on Satan, our adversary, whose primary goal is keeping us separated from a real and life-transforming relationship with Almighty God. Today, I want to address some of the instruction of Scripture regarding repentance, words from the very heart of a loving God who loves us but despises our sin.
When we accept Christ as the Lord of our life, Scripture tells us that there is a change in our life, that we have been made new. However, Scripture doesn't promise the "removal" of our sin nature...nor the charming nature it possesses that so easily lures us to refocus our attention away from God's commands. God’s Word gives us some pretty clear instruction on how to keep the momentum of our new life in Christ surging forward towards the "new self" or the "new creation" that our Lord desires.
It all has to do with the focus of our heart…
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things… Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” – Colossians 3:1,2 and 5-10 (NIV)
This is pretty succinct direction from a God who pulls no punches in addressing the things that He knows will trip us up in our walk towards Him and with Him. The idea of “setting our heart on things above” is the very first step toward a repentant life. We’re probably not willing to walk away from the sinful things that we think make this life so “enjoyable” until we realize just how remarkable our God really is! We give up nothing of value when we surrender our life of sin to the perfect will of God; however, we give up much when we unrepentantly embrace sin over righteousness. When thoroughly examined, the trade-off should be an easy one.
Isaiah 61:3 gives us a brief hint as to what God offers those who seek Him. It says, “…he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.”
Our instruction is to fully concentrate on the beauty found in living a life holy and set apart for God’s use…a life of determined repentance of the sin that contaminates our life and destroys everything it touches. Notice that we are not told to revisit sin on occasion; instead, we are instructed to “put to death” the things that belong to our sinful nature, and some of them are named: immorality, lust, greed, idolatry, anger, malice, slander, lies…basically, the very things that we see prevailing in today’s society...the very things that mark the condition of the world before the return of Christ.
The passage in Colossians tells us that “we must rid ourselves of all such things.” We certainly don’t rid ourselves of any sin by the revisitation of it, nor do we rid ourselves of sin by “asking forgiveness for it.” Feeling convicted about sin, crying tears, or confessing sin doesn’t rid us of the problem either. It is only through true repentance, a changing of our mind and a redirection of our course, that sin can truly be addressed and cast away from the equation of our life.
Next: Repentance: Defying Satan Power in the Journey
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!