[notes from Philip Anderson, Youth Worker, on the page margin of the sermon: Ephesus – Repentance (Rev. 2:1-7)]
I love to talk about the unlimited adventure of a born again, spirit filled life of faith and freedom! However, I am aware in my own life that I often need to repent to get to the place of freedom. Repentance. The way that we are saved, the way that we are changed, transformed into better people. Repentance. Turning around, changing my mind, changing my actions. Changing my focus. Sometimes it’s hard to bend my own will to repentance. It’s not something I can make others do. However, it is something God can lead us into.
Just as my earthly father would encourage me to get out of bed and give me stern word when I was way out of line, God is disciplining me. Not just addressing my outward behaviour but my thoughts motivations and attitudes.
Repentance starts with God pointing out an area he wants to work in. Unlike people’s criticisms, know that conviction from Jesus is always for your good. I love the Psalmist’s prayer in Psalm 139:23-24. It gives an opportunity for God to shine a light on anything that he wants to change:
“Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139:23-34; KJV)
Are you brave enough to ask God about what he is calling you to repent of?
In the Old Testament God sends prophets to proclaim his word and challenge wrong ways of living, asking people to repent. Are you giving God opportunity to speak through his Word? Are there opportunities for other Christians to challenge you? Maybe you could revisit some of the SSCB sermons and other online teaching? Maybe you could ask someone from church to ask you hard questions about your lifestyle? In the Old Testament they often repented in physical ways, not just in prayer. They tore their clothes, shaved their heads, sat in ashes. Is there a way we could physically mark our repentance? One thing I like doing is scratching my sin onto a slate before dipping the slate in the river and seeing that what was written is no longer readable. This action helps me cement my repentance and helps me see how completely Jesus has forgiven me!
Repentance can be a hard thing to do, conviction of the Holy Spirit is uncomfortable. But repentance is a good thing. I want to relish repentance more. To embrace repentance knowing that it is my loving Father working his power and goodness into my life. Every time I repent and believe, Jesus takes ground in my life. He wins more of my affection. My sinful nature loses, and God gets the Glory he deserves! Repentance is about saying YES to God, it’s worship. Repentance is not about regret and shame -I have been stuck in those feelings before- but repentance moves past these negative feelings into the victory Jesus won for us and the experience of being a new creation!
I hope this article may encourage you to seek repentance because you know it is good for you. It is good to live in step with Jesus. Repentance keeps us firmly on the path. I leave you with a reminder from Paul that God is kind. He doesn’t condemn you, he frees you from shame by giving forgiveness without asking for anything in return.
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you?…. Do you not realise that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) – [the citation is a combination of NLT and NTE translations]
[from Philip Anderson, Youth Worker]