Yesterday, we left off talking about components of forgiveness. We talked about the magnitude of the sacrifice of Jesus. In other words, you can't out sin His sacrifice. Today, we're on to the next component of forgiveness. If the first component of forgiveness is what Jesus did, then the second component of forgiveness is what we do, or our job in the process.
Now this is where a lot of people get tripped up. We hear this and we think, “Okay, just tell me what I have to do and I’ll get started. God you name it, and I’ll do it.”
That’s what we’re looking for right? We’d love to have a list of 8-10 things in front of us that we could just do and then move on with life knowing that God has forgiven us. Here’s the deal, there is a list, but it has nothing to do with doing good works. The list isn’t about helping old ladies across the street or being honest on your taxes (those are things we should do regardless). Our first responsibility has to do with confession.
1 John 1:9 (NLT) says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” I mean right here in this verse alone it maps out the whole deal. We confess, He forgives.
Proverbs 28:13 (NLT) says, “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
Psalm 32:5 (NLT) David says, “Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.”
I mean I don’t think that Scripture could be any more clear on this idea. When we confess, when we acknowledge our sins, God forgives us.
Now at this point some of you are probably thinking, “Hey, I’ve got this down because I screw up a lot. I’ve gotten really good at admitting that I’m wrong.” That’s good, Scripture calls us to confess but there’s more. Our second job has to do with repentance.
2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT) says, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
Acts 3:19 (NLT) says, “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.”
Repentance is almost like stage two of the process for you and I. We’ve become really good at admitting our wrongs but not so good at making the needed changes to ensure that we don’t continue to go down the same road. That’s what repentance is in the first place. To repent is to turn away from. Repentance is all about us planting a foot in the ground and making a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction. Look again at that passage in 2 Chronicles, it says we’re to “turn” from our wicked way. The passage in Acts say we should “turn” to God. God’s not interested in our words, He’s interested in our actions.
1 John 3:18 (NLT) says, “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
James 1:22 (NLT) says, “But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”
So we want God to forgive us, but we don’t want to do anything different in how we’re living our lives? There is no other area where that kind of thinking makes sense in life.
In other words, while our forgiveness comes from God and isn’t about our good works, God does expect us to put something into the mix. He expects our lives, the actions of our lives to reflect our heart’s desire to be forgiven.
Jeremiah 17:10 (NLT) says, “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
We’re not fooling God with our empty words. God is fully aware that you’re just spouting off meaningless words and that you have absolutely no intention of really changing your life.
What God is looking for from us is a sincerity of heart and a genuine desire to change. Not perfection, not mistake free living but a genuine heart felt desire to allow Him to continue working in our lives.
Spend some time chewing on these questions:
1. How often do you come to God seeking redemption without repentance?
2. What areas of your life are you in need of true repentance in?
3. What are you going to do differently today to start walking in repentance?