So here we are at a crossroads. Which path will you choose?
Repentance is a difficult thing to do. Not only do we have to face up to the fact that we did something wrong but we also need to realise that we can do nothing to fix it. We so want to fix stuff it seems to be in our very DNA.
Why are we so focused on sorting out everything for ourselves?
The trouble with this approach is that we become proud. We become judgemental and live a life where we constantly compare ourselves to other people. Sometimes we put our energies into trying to fix other people or to change them. There are times we are desperate to find solutions for other people’s problems or suffering but in and of ourselves there is nothing we have to offer because all our solutions are earthly bound. Our compassion is a wonderful gift to have however it can be foolhardy to think we hold all the solutions to everyone else’s issues.
The amazing thing about repentance is that it doesn’t stand alone; it comes with forgiveness. In 1 John 1:9 the bible tells us ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’.
When we repent, turn away from our desire to be self-reliant and recognise that we can’t fix ourselves, never mind other people; God is waiting to forgive us and purify (clean) us.
The bible teaches us that God wants to have a relationship that involves Him and us. The love story of relationship that God has weaved throughout the bible is a wonderful gift to receive however our sin stops us from being able to receive this gift, the gift of life God had planned for us. It is not until we see that we are not the source of life but the recipient of a gift, that we can choose to follow the right path.
Are you willing to receive this gift of an abundant life of love rather than overindulgence. Are you willing to accept the life Jesus is offering that always points us towards something greater, something eternal?
It doesn’t sound that hard really does it? Who has ever heard of someone not receiving a gift? Imagine it’s your birthday and you turn away everyone who comes to you with a present; it doesn’t make sense. It would be ungrateful. Unthinkable. God is the giver and we are the receiver, but many people do choose to say, ‘no thank you’ to God’s free gift to us because it would require them to change, it would require them to say I am no longer going to control my life but trust in the one who created me.
In John 14:6 Jesus stated that, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’.
Jesus gives us an alternative to living in sin, he provides a different path, a different route, Jesus says follow me. The path has been laid before us. It is our choice whether or not we choose to follow it.
Are you ready to recognise you are currently on the wrong path and choose a different direction, one that leads to a transformed and purposeful life?
The life God had planned all along for you!
A biblical health warning
This all sounds well and good but in our position of pride we can think God needs us to change before we come to Jesus. We convince ourselves that we need to clean up our act before Jesus can truly rescue us but we need to remember the story of the ‘Lost Son’ in Luke 15. When the son came to the Father he came warts and all, he was still stinking from the pig’s pen.
There is nothing we can bring to Jesus to make the deal better all he wants is our willingness to trust Him. Jesus wants us to come as we are, he doesn’t want perfect people because He alone is perfect, when we come face to face with who Jesus is we have a realisation of our limitations, we have a realisation of how unclean we truly are. Coming into the light of Jesus shines up the sin in our lives not to bring us shame but to bring the sin into Jesus light so he can defeat it.
As a Christian, it is easy to fall into the trap that now we have accepted Christ that we need to live a perfect life, that once Jesus rescues us then it is up to us to stay out of trouble, that once Jesus has cleansed us then it is up to us to stay clean.
We do this in many ways, we give others the impression that we don’t make mistakes, we try to keep the peace and don’t confront difficult situations, we try our best to not get angry or jealous or whatever attitude we think is wrong.
However, what we need to consider is that even as a Christian we have nothing to bring to the table, we are still sinners within the identity of a saint. It is Christ that gives us a new identity however the process of changing to be more like Christ is a process. Jesus redeemed us so that we can take up our true identity and become an eternal heir along with him however we don’t know what it means to be perfect, we don’t know what it means to be holy because up to the point of accepting Christ we don’t know what holy is.
Jesus turns our heart of stone to a heart of flesh that is changeable, by spending time with Jesus in prayer and reading scripture he changes us to be like Him. Every experience we have, every situation we find ourselves in, Jesus uses to expose our sinful hearts so that we turn to Him for resolution. In and of ourselves we can do nothing but this is the very place of hope because we have the promise that Jesus doesn’t just rescue us but he also takes us from the place of sinner to saint.
In the book of Phillipians the apostle Paul tells the church that he is confident that Jesus will complete the work he began when he rescued them.
‘I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ 1Phil 1:6 (NIV).
Once we become a Christian the process of change begins, this process is called sanctification. During this journey with Jesus he teaches us through the power of the Holy Spirit of who He is and the more time we spend with him the more we take on his likeness.
Quite often we don’t trust this process and we try to step in to speed it up, instead we just slow it down.
I have seen this time and time again with the sin of overeating. Each time I make a breakthrough I think yes this is it all I have to do is follow the diet plan better and then I will start losing weight which will solve all my sinful issues. In hindsight I tried to perfect myself by bypassing Jesus’ influence and guidance. I was trying to make myself more acceptable, to become clean so that Jesus doesn’t get angry or judge me unclean.
Jesus knows me much better than I know myself and it is with the state of my heart that Jesus wants to deal with, it is with anger, bitterness, jealousy etc these are the issues that Jesus has spent the last 32 years helping me with.
However, I still overeat, I still eat too much on occasions. Does this mean that I am still trapped in my overeating, does it mean that Jesus is waiting for me to get it right before I can be completely free from the sin of overeating?
No because it is Jesus that is perfecting me not by my own efforts, even in my moments of sin he teaches me, even in my sinful attitudes he demonstrates his love for me. The wonderful liberating truth of Christ is that our sin isn’t big enough to destroy his mercy.
The darkness of sin can never have any impact on the light of Jesus, Jesus has defeated sin and its eternal damnation therefore when we sin as a follower of Jesus it provides us with an opportunity to be reminded of our need of staying close to Him, our need to learn from him and a reminder of the extent of his mercy and love towards his disciples.
Jesus loves us so much that he doesn’t just call us to him he also enables us to continually share the journey with him.
The bible is filled with sinners and not one of them were worthy of rescue but because of their trust in God’s power to rescue and change then they were considered faithful (Hebrews 11).
We are faithful because we are willing to follow Jesus not because we are capable of being faithful.
Jesus knows who we are and still loves us, his forgiveness covers all sins past, present and future this is the mystery and wonder of his amazing grace.
So be warned, there is nothing we can do to keep ourselves from falling into sin except to simply stay close to the Saviour who will shine his light into all the dark places of our hearts so that we can be transformed into his likeness.