Deuteronomy 4:29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
When you think about it, this is an incredible promise. It says that repentance is always possible, as long as you are alive. The sad thing is how many people fail to avail themselves of this promise. Moses has been talking about Israel going into open idolatry, which they indeed did later in their history. You might think that God would give up on them totally at that, but not so. It would be impossible to overstate the mercy of God, but it hinges on one point: repentance. Here that is expressed as “seeking God with all your heart and soul.” The Greek word used in the New Testament is somewhat simpler, and means turning, that is, turning around, or turning from one thing to another. However, we get all fuzzy and accept as “repentance” what certainly doesn’t involve the whole being, and really doesn’t turn from sin. That does no one any favors! Proclaiming grace without repentance is one of the more pernicious lies of the devil, and he’s doing it a great deal today. People want to be told God accepts them as they are, without turning from things the Bible clearly states are hateful to Him. God loves us too much to do that. When we place pleasures ahead of seeking and obeying God, we haven’t repented, and that is dangerous territory indeed. English-speaking people need a fresh revelation of what repentance is all about. In addition to the Hebrew and Greek terms, Japanese uses a term that means “regret and start over.” That says it pretty well. John the Baptist put it quite clearly: “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) In other words, real repentance will produce changed behavior. We must never forget that.
I’ve had my own tussles with repentance. On one issue I didn’t really get free until I grasped that I really was forgiven. The liar, aka Satan, really plays tricks with us on this whole issue of repentance and forgiveness. His name means “accuser,” and that is certainly what he does. Especially with repeated sins he tells us, “See, you never repented at all. You might as well hang it up and dive into the sin.” That is effective, as I found, only when we fail to grasp that as 1 John 1:9 tells us, the moment we acknowledge our sin before God and ask Him to cleanse us, His forgiveness is operative in our lives. Peter said that people who fail to live in what Christ has done for them have “forgotten that [they have] been cleansed from [their] past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9) When that got through to me it set me free to walk in the repentance I had already chosen. When we desire to be holy before God and we know we are forgiven, then repentance when we stumble is almost automatic, and it is certainly not a burden.
Father, the whole issue of repentance and forgiveness is so vital to everything. Help me communicate it clearly by the power of Your Spirit so that many may be set free from the lying traps of the devil, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!