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Monday, May 20, 2013

A Believer's Repentant Heart

A Believer’s Repentant Heart
Once more the pastor had shared the message of God’s sanctifying grace. Once more he had reminded his congregation that heart change was an on-going process. Once more he had bared his soul. You might have thought his own “me too” as only one couple knelt at the altar would have revealed his own repentant heart to the congregation. He had prayed that God's people would have a teachable spirit just as David had when faced with his own failure. Had the sermon fallen on deaf ears?

Jesus once told his disciples why he spoke to others in parable. “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them’” (Matthew 13: 13-15).

With closed eyes and ears, many people that morning had never entertained the idea that their pastor’s convicting message was for them. Others had heard the message and were literally unwilling. Afraid of what others might think - disinclined to submit to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, they stood with hands gripping the pew in front of them, not even realizing that they had said “no” to the will of God. They were not even aware that the attitude of their hearts had been dictated by human will instead of a Holy Spirit altered heart and mind. 

As a believer I am to have an open spirit to what the Lord instructs. I do not have the option to ignore the transformation of the Spirit. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers,” the apostle Paul declared, “in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2).

My life should be an act of spiritual worship to the God who became a living sacrifice for me. Spirit and truth are inseparable. If I worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24), I offer a yielded heart to His replenishment. Spiritual transformation is discovered in the renewing of my mind. A willingness to be renewed means that I am ready to admit I am not perfect. It means I seek His perfect will, not just stumble into His permissive will.

“You were taught,” Paul also wrote,” with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4: 23-23).
I am also created to be holy as God is holy (I Peter 1:15), but I cannot be like Him until my attitudes and desires are what He wishes. In repentance I discover God’s desire instead of my own. The reason that repentance is ongoing is because absolute holiness of heart is a goal. When my heart and mind is constantly renewed, repentance creates the ability to put off the old and put on the new. On earth holiness is a goal that is daily discovered. It is the culmination of daily surrenders which brings me closer to the ultimate target. In heaven when I stand in the presence of God, holiness shall be a goal completely realized. No longer will I see Him through a glass darkly, but then I shall see Him. face to face (I Corinthians 13:12).

God seeks the whole earth for those whose hearts totally belong to Him. To such a person God gives His strength which empowers personal change (I Chronicles 16: 9). Christians who constantly experience the renewing power of the Holy Spirit view God’s omnipotence with humble amazement at His love. When David’s sin with Bathsheba was brought to his attention by Nathan, David hit the ground in repentance. There was no hesitation in his humble heart. His example teaches that even those with a heart that loves the Lord, need to be spiritually open to the convicting presence of the Holy Spirit. David experienced God’s immediate forgiveness because of his repentant heart. If his heart had been calloused, David never would have realized at what point the Holy Spirit had left him.
Only the blood of Jesus brings new life to what would otherwise remain dead in transgression in a Christian’s life. When I repent God cleanses my heart, and washes away the impurities. He promises, “I will give you a clean heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36: 26). 

Where once my heart was as hard and unyielding as stone now he promises it shall beat with the pulsating blood of His living sacrifice. Where once calloused inner pain held God’s renewal at bay, now I shall be energized by His living presence. A new heart and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit fills me with the desire to keep His laws and commandments- not because they are rules to be followed, but because I love Him above all else. His law shall be my delight, and in every way He shall be my God and I shall belong only to Him (Ezekiel 26: 27-28). 

Sincere holiness comes as a result of a rejuvenated heart, and not as the result of a legalistic-type rule, and is the outward expression of inward renewal. Because the sacrifice of His blood has made me clean, holiness expects absolute surrender to the will of God. Christ’s blood flows easily and fully into a repentant heart.
Repentance is a life changing experience. It means that you have been halted in your tracks, and made a complete turn around. True repentance comes from knowing the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and changes your heart attitude. It is not measured in a personal outward change as the Pharisees instructed. It is measured in the change of your heart. It calls for a transformation that inspires vulnerability to a Holy God and the transforming power of His Word.

Jesus compared his yielded disciples to the multitude with deaf ears. “But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it” (Matthew 13: 16-17).

Do I realize that a believer’s repentant heart is my only hope?  If I don’t, then I have missed His best. Realized, I know unparalleled intimacy.

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