Repentance: An Appeal from Heaven to Us

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By Wes Leake

Throughout the Bible there are numerous calls for God’s people to repent.  It was one of John the Baptist’s key messages: “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven has come near.[1]

This call for repentance is not coming from God as a big ogre in the sky wanting to punish us if we do not repent.  Rather it is like the father of the prodigal son constantly watching for his children to return home[2], to put things back in right relationship and for a party to be thrown as a result.

Yet many of us are like that prodigal son who wants to go back home but feels like the only option is to become a hired servant again[3], instead of the full rights of a son, like the father wanted to lavishly bestow on his returning son[4].

It is like God’s call to Isaiah when he said: “Come now, let us settle the matter, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”[5]

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Where does one start?

We start with confessing our sin to God. 1 John 1:9 is so clear when it says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” We all have sin that we know is sin that we have not confessed to God.  So, we start with what we know.

Secondly, we ask God, as David did, Psalm 139:23 & 24: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ask God directly, what do I need to repent of? This is something that is not to be rushed, but to sit in silence and listen with a pen in hand and write down what you sense the Father is saying to you.  Remember, this is about a loving Father wanting to restore relationship, rather them him wanted to berate you.

Having done this exercise with several people over the past few years, I have often been astounded at what God reveals to people during this time.  He tends to see things from a different perspective than what we do.  Taking the time to listen here is very key.  Do not be surprised if God reveals things to you over a period of time.

Third, the Ten Commandments.  Martin Luther had a private prayer practice[6] of regularly praying through the Ten Commandments as a check for him to recognise that these are truth and they are foundational for Christians.  I encourage you to go to Exodus 20:1-17.  Print it off if need be.  Sit with this passage, read it through 7 times and allow God to speak to you through it about any area in your life that needs to be brought into alignment with the truth in God’s word.

Fourth, forgiveness. Are you harbouring unforgiveness towards someone? Does someone hold something against you? Then it is key for you to take steps to put things right.  In this area you need to be guided by God.  Take time with God and ask Him to show you if you are harbouring unforgiveness towards someone.  If so, confess this and if necessary write a letter of forgiveness towards that person.

Take time to also mediate on Matthew 5:23 &24: says “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” This is a very clear instruction if someone has something against you, go sort it out.

Fifth, do you need to confess your sin to another person? In some circumstances it may be necessary for you to seek out a wise person to confess your sin to. James 5:16 says: “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” There is power in confession to another.  What is fascinating about this scripture is that is says “so you may be healed”. Is there a particular sin that you have been struggling with that you know is more than a quick confession to God about? Then I would suggest that you find a trusted person to confess that sin to.

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Demonstrate the Fruit of Spiritual Transformation

As part of his teaching on repentance John the Baptist encouraged the crowds to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”[7]. The crowds asked him as a result saying: “What should we do then?”[8] As a result John gives them three answers:

  1. Everyone should share clothes and food with the poor (v11)
  2. Tax collectors shouldn’t pocket extra money (v13)
  3. Soldiers should be content with their wages and not extort money. (v14)

What is surprising about these answers is that each of them relates to money and possessions. However, no one was asking John about that! They asked what they should do to demonstrate the fruit of spiritual transformation.  Why? Because how we handle our money and possessions is not just important, it is central to our spiritual lives.

Another example of this is Zacchaeus.  When Zacchaeus repented, he said to Jesus in Luke 19:8: “Look, Lord! Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

What was Jesus response? “Today salvation has come to this house.” Luke 19:8.[9]

Often because of repentance there is something practical that needs to be done.  If you have stolen something, you need to repay it.  As part of your time of repentance, sit with God and ask him to show you the practical outworking of your repentance that needs to happen. Can I encourage you to not put off doing what God says to do.


In summary

Do not rush a time of repentance.

Develop the practice of reviewing your day with God and asking him to reveal to you if there is something you need to put right. There are times when you need to sit with the Father and have an extended time of searching.  Listen to his heart for you to restore you to right relationship with God and with others.  Plus, to reveal to you if there needs to be some kind of action to be taken confirming the fruit of repentance.

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About the author: Wes Leake is married to Pam and has four children.  He runs Business Blessings a ministry committed to connecting people with God and others through profound strategies that help them to glorify God and grow their business supernaturally.  He serves on different boards such as:  Partners In Prayer, National Day of Prayer and Fasting, Christian Business Network and Redwood College. He attends the Christian Church in Brisbane and is currently studying as Masters in Spiritual Formation through ACOM. Each week Wes hosts a regular Listening Prayer time via zoom. Wes has recently joined the PIPES Board.

What is your repentance story? Has God led you to take time to repent because of this article? Then Wes would love to hear from you.  Often, we do not tell the story of our personal repentance and the fruit of this.  Feel free to email Wes at:  wesleyl@businessblessings.com.au or contact him through www.businessblessings.com.au.

 

[1] Matthew 3:2

[2] Luke 15:20

[3] Luke 15:19

[4] Luke 15:22-24

[5] Isaiah 1:18

[6] For more on this listen to James Bryan Smith’s Things Above Podcast: The Soul Knows Best: https://apprenticeinstitute.org/2021/12/01/the-soul-knows-best/

[7] John 3:8

[8] John 3:10.

[9] For more information on this I would encourage you to read The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn.

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