Posts Tagged repentance
Today’s Spiritual Growth Principle: Repent.
One major thing that prevents spiritual growth is sin that we don’t deal with. Wayne Grudem defines repentance as “A heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.” Are you harboring some kind of sin in your life? Is there an area of disobedience that you are unwilling to deal with? David describes the life-sapping nature of holding onto sin:
Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknow¬ledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:2-5)
How have you seen repentance be a catalyst to spiritual growth?
In last Sunday’s sermon, we focused quite a bit on the need for ongoing repentance. This is the idea that we don’t just turn from our sin one time, but that the life of the follower of Jesus is a life of constant turning. With that in mind, I want to recommend a brief, helpful article by Tim Keller entitled “All of Life is Repentance.” It’s worth reading, re-reading, and really trying to work into the fabric of your life.
At Second Mile, we love hearing stories of how God is working in people’s lives. We often share them during our Sunday worship gatherings. I recently came across a new website – www.iamsecond.com – that is filled with stories of how God has worked in people’s lives to help them realize that they come second.
Some would be people you’re familiar with like outfielder Josh Hamilton, American Idol’s Jason Castro, former Korn guitarist Brian Welch, driver Darrell Waltrip, or actor Stephen Baldwin. Others were names I didn’t necessarily recognize, but they are still great stories and well produced.
Each of us is living for something. We each have something that motivates us and drives us. This could also be described as your identity. What makes you who you are? What defines you?
In his excellent book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller makes the point that the essence of sin is basing your identity on anything but God. In the “Notes” section of the book he gives some great examples of how centering your life on other things will destroy you (pp. 275-276). I’d encourage you to read the list, look for these idolatrous identities in your own life, and repent if necessary.
- If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.
- If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.
- If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.
- If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.
- If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.
- If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.
- If you center your life and identity on a “noble cause,” you will divide the world into “good” and “bad” and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.
- If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards your guilt will be utterly devastating.
May we be people who center our lives on the love and grace of Jesus Christ for us!
If you hang around here for any period of time, you’ll bump into a number of great resources from Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church. He’s been very influential on me and a number of Second Mile’s leaders, particularly in his understanding of how to apply the gospel and understand its implications. One great example of this is in his brief article, “All of Life is Repentance.” This is one you don’t want to miss.
Click here for more Tim Keller resources.
Click here to submit your answer to the question, “What do you think are things that kill people’s joy?”
The previous post in this series on “Joy-Killers” was about sin. Today we go just a little bit deeper with another big joy-killer: IDOLATRY.
This gets at the question, “Why do we sin?” After all, if sin is a joy-killer, we should just stop it — right? Yes, that is right, but the question remains…”Why can’t I stop sinning?” I think the answer is “Because of idolatry.” Webster defines “idolatry” as “immoderate attachment or devotion to something.” It is our immoderate attachments or our over-desires — sometimes even for good things — that lead us to disobey God with our actions. Sinful behavior is always preceeded by idolatrous desire.
What are the key idols we face? Here is a brief list that has helped me tremendously:
- People’s approval
- Power or influence
I find that if I ask myself, “Why did I do or say that sinful thing?” the answer is usually found on that list.
This list is helpful because it gets deeper than we normally think. For instance, most people would say that money is an idol. However, when you think about it, you realize that people want money for different reasons. Some want it to impress people, some to have an easy life, and others to be able to influence key people. So, if you are struggling with the love of money, it won’t help to just try to stop loving money. You need to first understand the idol that is gripping your heart and leading you to love money. Only when we repent of these deeper idols with gospel-truth (i.e. “I don’t need people’s approval because in Jesus I have the only person’s approval who really matters”) will we see lasting change and growing joy.
Our leaders have been working through some brief studies on prayer from Tim Keller and Redeemer Presbyterian Church and then spending extended time in prayer. This week’s study talks about the difference between praying for just “temporal” blessings (food and clothing, adequate housing, health, etc.) and “Spirit” blessings (growth in holiness, experiencing God’s love, fellowship with God, etc.). Here’s a quote that is particularly insightful:
The fact that we pray so much more instinctively, consistently, and fervently for money, health, reputation, approval, and social status than we do for the glory of God and the work of his Spirit shows what our hearts are really after and really trusting in…To begin praying for the operations of the Spirit is not simply a matter of scheduling more time for it! We have to repent for the reasons we haven’t been praying for them.
Our prayer is that the people of Second Mile Church, individually and together, will be people marked by praying for the glory of God and the work of the Spirit in their lives.