Recently the Lord revealed to my heart that the greatest ability that I have, that far surpasses any capability I might exhibit, is the ABILITY TO REPENT. I have pondered that insight for a number of days now, and feel to write about what was shown me, believing this article will truly change many lives. Perhaps “your” life!
Think about it with me….Read past the picture below and and I will “show you something”…to help you understand..
First, let me define what REPENT really means. To repent is to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin, enough so, that a person chooses to turn away from it, and turn toward God, and receive forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, resulting in fruit keeping with repentance. Matthew 3:8-10 states that true repentance involves “fruit” or evidence to the fact. Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness).The good news is that Jesus DID shed his blood, and made atonement for ALL sin, so that we are always and forever ABLE to repent.
This ability to repent far exceeds any capability of ours, for sooner or later, each one of us sins or fails or has something they need to turn away from, knowing it does not please a Holy God. Our capability to lead a righteous life is indeed in Christ, but within our own sin nature is also the capability to do evil. Therefore, the greatest ability we have is to repent. As with a computer, we simply press “delete” or “backspace” upon our error, erasing our error, so that we can once again enjoy advancing forward. So too, with repentance, our own sin is erased, and glorious fellowship is restored or given with our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
So then, whether we do repent is up to each one of us, and “when” we repent. We have totally free will in this matter. Yet God is always pursuing us, revealing to us, and desiring for us all to come to repentance.
Do we realize how glorious is this Ability? It is ALWAYS AVAILABLE to us. (That is, if we, ourselves, do not harden our hearts so many times that our desire to access our ability to repent is diminished or non-existent. )
When my two sons were grade school age they had an Etch-A-Sketch. Have you ever had one of them yourself? Well, as I sat with them both, one of them was drawing something I was teaching them how to draw, and goofed up, getting totally exasperated with himself. So, I, in encouragement, grabbed hold of the Etch-A-Sketch and animatedly declared: “Let’s get rid of all that!” It’s a good thing, with this, your mistakes can just be erased, so you can start afresh! “ (I showed him how to shake it up, and as he did it, we watched the silver wash away all of what he drew.) “See, you can start all over!” As I said these words aloud, instant revelation came to me from the Holy Spirit, and out my mouth it came: “An Etch-A-Sketch actually represents a picture of GRACE and FORGIVENESS OF SINS, sons… and the silver stuff is as the BLOOD OF CHRIST. The display screen is as Our Life. If our life displays or reveals an error, gross sin, mistaken path, misled alliance, failure, broken promise, abusive action, selfish tendency, etc…we need only to repent to activate the BLOOD which then ERASES all that was done outside of the will of God. We need not remain miserable and exasperated, ashamed or fretful.”
In fact, even as an Etch-A-Sketch erases a picture, so too, is grace greater than sin! When one of you hands that Etch-A-Sketch to the next person, there is no evidence of what had been written there. It is dissolved. Invisible. Gone! So too, sin is gone!… forever erased in the sight of God. He remembers it no more.
Jesus wipes the slate clean! Then God sees the slate clean! How awesome is that!
Now, you might say, “hmm…well, sometimes, with an Etch-A-Sketch there is some residue of what was there”…and yes, this is true…. So too, you may need to go to the Lord, and receive GRACE, a few more times, to cleanse your own conscience, so that it is erased forever. Sometimes it is a process, at our end, as the water of The Word washes away residue, as our own faith in the atonement is built up.. i.e. we embrace our own forgiveness of sin. An evidence is that we become God-conscious rather than sin-conscious when the work is complete. Sometimes, the remembrance of “what was” may be upon people around us, who then may continually remind us of our sin, to our chagrin. And sometimes a temporal consequence is resultant, even though an eternal consequence is absolved. But to REPENT is all about what is between you and God, and GOD HIMSELF SEES IT NO MORE. So every single “present moment” can be a “new beginning” of walking with the Lord in perfect peace. Inner strength to walk midst others’ judgments and to embrace a consequence of our sin, and to go on cleansed and whole, is granted us as part of this grace of repentance. It is given to us, in the person of the Holy Spirit, who is with us, assuring us of our secure salvation, and letting us know whenever repentance needs to be done to clear our consciences.
The point in this simple illustration of the Etch-A-Sketch is to reveal that to REPENT is a great ABILITY that we have as Believers. Actually, to repent is available to all. For Jesus calls Sinners to repentance. This is why He came! A person just needs to know that it is Jesus’ blood that can cleanse and grant reconciliation to God, causing a rebirth….a pure blank slate now to be written upon. However, in true repentance, this new Believer will choose to now let God use those controls, creating a masterpiece out of their shaken life.
My son discovered, that it became easier for him to draw, and he became better and better at the Etch-A-Sketch, for he was no longer intimidated by the thought of making a mistake. He knew it could easily erase, and he could start again. This is also true of how grace and repentance work in a believers life. The longer a person walks in Christ, the easier it is for them to be FREE of sin… and actually the need to repent and wipe the slate clean, becomes less frequent as a person becomes “perfected” in such great grace.
Luke 24:46-48 says “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
So what about good works? Or a focus on “capability”? Well, it is simply fulfilling the Lord’s command of Matthew 3:8 “Produce fruit keeping with repentance”. Our “fruit” must come forth in keeping with our repentance. This is how we show God we rejoice in our forgiveness, and reveal we are His. You lied? then the fruit would be to resolve to tell the truth. You fornicated? then the fruit would be to resolve not to have sex outside of the marriage covenant. You stole? Steal no more. You grumbled and complained? Then change your attitude! You fought with someone? Say you’re sorry, forgive them, and look together for your solution in Christ.
When one truly realizes the greatest ability we have is to REPENT, and he or she exercises that ability immediately when the need arises, then this ability to WALK IN OUR GRACE gives us CAPABILITY to walk in the righteousness of Christ. (i.e. we know we can shake that Etch-A-Sketch each step we take that is not in Christ…so our path can be righted…and fellowship restored.)
Another reason why our greatest ABILITY is to repent? … Because our sin is NEVER too much, or mistake EVER too big, for the blood not to erase, when appropriated. Christ’s capability gives us this ability.
NEVER will God not forgive true repentance. He loves the sinner and wipes away the sin. It is a lie of Satan that God hates sinners. What He hates is Sin, and how it keeps us from Him.
Repentance is always available to anyone who will believe in GOD’S CAPABILITY to provide that forgiveness. Yes, again I say you must be or become a “Believer in Christ” to be forgiven. It is an ability only available IN CHRIST. It is only His Blood that cleanses away the sin.
There is one other thing that can mislead too. Let me warn you of that. Okay? The Word of God says, in II Corinthians 7:10, that “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Worldly sorrow lacks “repentance” and brings death. Repentance is more than just an sorrowful emotion, or a “getting caught” and wanting to avoid “a consequence”. Godly sorrow is a grief that is for God’s sake, and produces a remorse of the soul which then reverses itself and restores to life…it leads to salvation through Jesus, and a transformed life.
Let’s go back to the Etch-A-Sketch picture of grace… We had to “Let it Be Shaken.” As was true of the choice to shake that “Etch-A-Sketch” to erase what was written upon it… So too, a sin revealed requires the choice to take action on our part. It is an act of our own free will to DO the action of repenting after coming to recognize that which needs to be repented of or erased. To refuse to do that “repenting” (as with the Etch-A-Sketch being shaken to have the silver erase the slate)… it means mistake upon mistake is built up more and more, causing us greater and greater exasperation and unhappiness in our own lives. Yet also, here again… we see the greatest ability we, human beings in all the world, have been given! We can even erase “all that buildup!” Once we see and recognize our sin before God… this ability remains there to access! This ability surpasses understanding! Oh, what grace! Repenting can erase it all!
But WAIT!…WARNING!!! Our free will is involved here! If we choose not to appropriate our ability to repent once sin is revealed, it can indeed eventually become too late to have our slate wiped clean. We can go to hell and suffer permanent consequence for sin, and not just earth’s temporary consequences. For the individual Believer, when the choice is made to continually harden their heart, after knowing the joy of being In Christ, scripture warns them, in Hebrews 6:4-12 and in Hebrews 10:26-39 that this condition of hardening the heart causes them to not avail themselves of this, their greatest ability: to repent. Those believers who sin against the Holy Spirit, who is faithful to convict of sin, will instead repeatedly choose not to respond and they will indeed lose their salvation. The Amplified Version of 10:29 states that when Christ’s blood is considered common and unhallowed, that the Holy Spirit is profaned, insulted, and outraged! He has imparted the grace TO REPENT and the blood was given to cleanse! But even believers can walk away from grace. Grace requires the action to stay IN CHRIST and resting faith in what He has done by repenting when convicted by the Spirit of sin. Rest easy, if you have a conscience active right now at all, you are not “there”. No fear need be… just simply repent now. (Don’t necessarily believe this?…then continue on, and read the three verses from Revelation, near the end of this article, and you will hear what Christ Himself says about the danger some of you are in.)
It is only a “Believer”, or one who is repenting to “become a Believer” , that exercises this GREATEST ABILITY known to man: the ability TO REPENT, and it leads to their SALVATION, in this life and in the life to come.
To repent is easy… and it may be done continually…as a lifestyle…with joy. The Lord delivers us from our sins as we continually bring them before him in godly sorrow over them. We experience the pain of seeing our need, but then the great joy in having sin removed. You need not become sin-conscious or look for sin. The Holy Spirit will do the work of revealing sin to your conscience, and the written Word of God will expose unknown or hidden sin. A prophet may speak, a sermon may be heard, an authority figure rebuke…God uses many ways to reveal things for us to repent of. Let peace be your guide. Is some sin revealed? You “respond” in repentance. Quickly receive the blood wiping it away! Rejoicing then, simply follow Christ, in that area, believing the slate is clean. There is no need for penance, which means an act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow or repentance for sin. The blood is sufficient to wipe your slate clean. Repentance is of the heart. Always with Jesus, He says to the repentant one, “Neither do I condemn you… Go and sin no more.” And worthy to note: Following true repentance, the Holy Spirit may direct you, to do some restitution toward someone you may have sinned against, that reconciliation be made to them. Repentance is toward God, and Restitution is toward one another…. a natural, chosen response to a changed heart, for within it the Love of God now flows freely.
It will bring GREAT JOY, if we understand that This ABILITY to Repent Surpasses any Capability. We cease being “self-righteous” (ignoring our need to repent), or “heathen” (ignoring our need for God’s plan of forgiveness), or “hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (ignoring the grace that is set before us). We, instead, realize the incredible ABILITY Christ purchased at the Cross by spilling his blood…the ABILITY to repent and go forward forgiven and cleansed. Healing and deliverance, all a part of our atonement from sin, comes from our continually accessing our ABILITY to repent, due to what Christ did.
With all the talk of grace, out there in the world… I exhort, and speak the truth: GRACE still needs AN ACTION and RESPONSE on our part: TO REPENT and TO RECEIVE. Christ’s work is finished. And salvation from sin is not of OUR Works. We must simply choose to access this GREAT ABILITY that He has offered and paid for.
In closing, I am led, by the Spirit of God, to give you, from the Word of God, an increased desire to exercise your greatest ability: TO REPENT. I will leave you three verses from Revelation that have the instruction from Our Lord Christ Jesus TO REPENT in them. Listen carefully. Please.
“Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent, and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you, and remove your lamp stand from its place.”
“Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know what time I will come to you.”
“Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.”
Written by Elizabeth Norland, June 28, 2013
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