By Francis Frangipane
Many are calling for prayer for our nation. To that message I would like to add a call to repentance as well. Indeed, 2 Chronicles 7:14 not only calls us to pray but to follow through by humbling ourselves and aggressively turning away from evil. In that spirit, we then seek God’s face. There is far too much compromise among us. We need a breakthrough into brokenness. A move of God is coming, but it will only be as deep as our repentance prepares us.
The purpose of this message is to take us beyond simply feeling sorry we sinned. God wants to bring us into an attitude of repentance that goes deep, that persistently turns to God’s grace until the fruit of righteousness comes forth in our lives.
The Baptism of Repentance
The Bible tells us that prior to the beginning of Christ’s ministry, “there came a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). John was sent by God to bring Israel into a baptism of repentance. This call to repentance was not the last event of the old covenant; it was the first event of the new covenant. John was the forerunner to Christ’s ministry. His unique purpose was to immerse Israel in an attitude of repentance (Acts 19:4). Called to go before Christ, his task was to “prepare” and “make ready the way of the Lord” (Mark 1:2, 3).
Some measure of repentance always precedes the coming forth of Christ in a person’s life. To “prepare” and “make ready” is the purpose of repentance. Let’s be sure we understand: John’s call to repentance did not merely make men sorry; it made men ready.
True repentance is to turn over the soil of the heart; it is to prepare the heart for a new planting of righteousness or directives from God. It is a vital stage where the kindness of the Lord works with us enlarging our capacity to walk in greater spiritual maturity. To repent is to “change one’s mind.” Such change can come quickly or it may take time and effort. Either way, the goal is to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8).
Indeed, the idea of “keeping with” our repentance means we do not cease turning from pride until we delight in lowliness. It means we continue to repent of selfishness until love flows naturally from us. And we do not stop mourning our impurities until we are pure.
The apostle John tells us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Do not hide from your sins; confess them. God’s grace and the sacrifice of His Son are enough to cover and forgive any and every sin, but we must ask for forgiveness, humbling ourselves from the heart. Be honest about your sin and He will cleanse you of it.
An exhortation: persist in your repentance, never doubting the generosity of God’s mercy. God does not require of us more than He demands of Himself. If you sin 490 times in one day, after each time cry to Him for forgiveness. He will both forgive you and cleanse you of sin’s effect.
During one period in my life I repeatedly stumbled over the same problem. Grieved and doubting in my heart, I cried, “Lord! How long will you put up with me?” In a flash of grace and truth He answered, “Until I have perfected you.”
The Scriptures tell us, “Reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Prov. 6:23 KJV). Repentance is not burdensome except to those who refuse correction. The way of reproof is the way of life! Jesus said, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19). It is not God’s wrath that speaks to us of repentance; it is His lovingkindness. We have been promised, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). As long as we desire to be like Him, His rebuke will be a door into His presence.
If, however, you recoil at the word repentance, it is because you do not want to change. You need this message. When the thought of repentance is not shrouded in gloomy images of sackcloth and tears, when correction inspires rejoicing and shouts of praise to God’s grace, know that your spirit has truly become pure. It is at this point you are walking the way God calls holy.
Adapted from Francis Frangipane’s book, Holiness, Truth and the Presence of God, available at www.arrowbookstore.com.