Monday, June 25, 2007

Through the Depths of Repentance

Through The Depths Of Repentance

“And Peter went out and wept bitterly”. (Luke: 22:62).

What would have led Peter to such a deep repentance, after blatantly denying His dearest Master three times in spite of his zeal in following Him for about three and a half years? Did Peter hear a ‘fiery’ sermon on repentance soon after his denial? No. Or did any of the disciples come and convince him of the seriousness of his sin? No. Then what happened? We read that in the previous verse:

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a cock crows today, you will deny Me three times”. And Peter went out and wept bitterly”. (Luke 22: 61, 62).

Yes, it was a mere look of our Lord, full of love and compassion, that reminded Peter of His words and caused him to repent with brokenness of heart!

Dear children of God, today why are we unable to repent out of a really contrite heart? Do we realize that the very face of Jesus, full of love and compassion, is now earnestly gazing at us? If so, like Peter remembered the loving words of Jesus on seeing Him, we too will begin to remember the high spiritual standards which the Lord has revealed to us from the Word of God. And we will begin to repent of those moments in which we could not live up to those standards.

Thus it is the love of God poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Rom.5:5) that makes the written Word of God living and active for us. It is only then that we go deep down into the depths of repentance…… Yes, it is lovingkindness of Jesus, not the voice of threats about judgment, which leads us to repentance (Rom.2:4)!

Today the hearts of many children of god have become so hardened that they confess to God some obvious sins only. But it is clearly mentioned in Hebrews 6:1,2 that repentance from dead works is the first aspect of the foundation for pressing on to spiritual maturity.

What is dead work? Whatever that does not have the life of Christ or the warmth of His love, is a dead work. If our deeds, words, thoughts, attitudes etc. which we usually presume to be godly, do not arise from a pure, undistracted love for Jesus, they are simply dead, and are a part of mere religiosity!

Do we have the habit of frequently coming close to Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Bridegroom, with an attitude of heart which says: “Point out anything You find in me that makes You sad” (Psalm139:24 Living Bible)? Has that which grieves the heart of Jesus become the very grief of our hearts too? If so, He is able to cleanse us by the washing of water with the Word from the ‘spots’ of sin and the ‘wrinkles’ of spiritual staleness and thus keep us afresh with divine glory moment by moment! (Eph.5:26,27; Jn.15:3). Otherwise, when the loving eyes of Jesus gaze at us as we stand at the judgment seat of Christ one day to give an account of our life (Rom.14:12), would we not have to hang our heads in shame? (1 Jn.2:28)

What we read in the Word of God is that even the innermost motives of our heart will be disclosed on that day! (1Cor.4:5). From 1Cor.3:12-15, we understand that those things in our life which have no eternal value (ie. the dead works in our life) will burn like wood, hay and straw in the fire of the Holy Spirit that day. Only those things which the Spirit of God has worked on us and through us, will persist as gold, silver and precious stones after passing through the fire of God! How better it is to cleanse the dead works in our life now itself by the blood of Christ through repentance than to helplessly watch many parts of our life being burnt to ashes on that day!

In the portion of the Scripture we have been dealing with, our life is compared to building (verse 9). Thus building which is our life, is being built upwards each day like a tower. (The tower Jesus mentioned in Luke 14:28, 29 also refers to our Christian life!). If we build with wood, hay and straw at times in between, will the tower not collapse quickly in spite of building with any amount of gold, silver and precious stones? The upward building is impossible without removing the wood, hay and straw; ie. repenting of our own dead works! Is this incomplete repentance the very reason why we could not walk as Jesus walked (1Jn.2:6) in spite of desiring for it?

Let us draw near the very loving and caring presence of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ in simple faith…… Each one of us (including the one who has just been born again) has received varying measures of light on the divine nature of Christ. Which are the unChristlike areas in our life? Let us allow the Lord to judge various areas in our life in the light of His countenance (Psalm 67:1; 89:15)……

Even the apostle Paul says: “….. I do not examine myself ….. the one who examines me is the Lord” (1Cor.4:3,4). We will soon get exhausted if we ourselves try to find out the faults in our life through the ‘microscope’ of our cleverness. Let us surrender ourselves into the mighty hands of our Great Physician, who knows our hearts thoroughly. Let us be filled with His love. Let us see the light of our life in the light of His life (Psalm 36:9)……

Let us ask our Lord Jesus Himself whether our heart’s attitude is full of love and humility towards God and towards every human being (Phil.2:5)………

Are the motives and decisions in each and every matter of our life absolutely for the glory of our Lord? (1Cor.10:31)……….

What is the passionate desire deep down in our hearts? Is it to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His presence, like David sang? (Psalm 27:4)………

Are our emotions softened by the compassion of Jesus, bridled by His wisdom and hallowed by his holiness? ...........

Are our thoughts refined in the fire of the Holy Spirit with the humility and the purity of Jesus? (1Cor.10:5)………..

How much do we sense the gentle voice of our Lord deep within our spirit? (Jn.10:4, 27)…………

Do we have the diligence of Jesus in using our time wisely and in waking up from the bed? (Eph.5:16; 2Pet.1:5; Is.50:4)……….

Do we have the carefulness, wisdom and generosity of our Lord in spending money? ...............

Do our (five) senses go after those which grieve the loving heart of our Lord? …………

Do the expressions of our face herald the mercy, compassion and Spirit-filled gladness of Jesus Christ? (Heb.1:9; Luke 22:60-62)…………

Does the manner in which we do everything reflect the dignity of our King of kings? ………..

Do the patience and forbearance of Jesus characterize us in hearing, listening and caring for others? ………….

Do the fullness of Spirit and Christlike spiritual authority adorn our writings and words? (Matt.7:28, 29) ……………

Do the words that proceed from our mouth edifying, gracious as well as sharp, seasoned with salt and imparting grace to the hearers? (Eph.4:29; Col.4:6; Lk.4:22) ………….

Do we have the sincerity, faithfulness and diligence of Jesus in God’s work, studies as well as occupation? (Jn.17:4; 2 Tim.4:7)…………

In short, do we live in continual fullness of the Spirit fixing our inner eyes on the Lord Jesus? .................

Only deeper repentance can lead us to greater fullness of the Holy Spirit. If we ourselves restrict the height of our spiritual standards, we will have only a superficial repentance. Suppose a high-jump athlete brings down the height which he has to jump over. Then he may be able to satisfy himself by even jumping over a smaller height. He can even be proud that he is far better than many other incompetent athletes. But another zealous athlete practises jumping over greater and greater heights. So is the matter of spirituality. We can compare ourselves with others and fall into spiritual pride; or we

can compare ourselves with the Lord Jesus and tread through the depths of repentance and brokenness of heart.

Let us look towards the spiritual heights of the Scriptures:

“The one who says he abides in Jesus ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (1 Jn. 2:6).

“For sin shall not be master over you for you are not under law, but under grace.” (Rom.6:14).

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16- 18).

If we repent from the depths of our hearts of having grieved the loving heart of our beloved Lord knowingly and unknowingly, He will surely give us back the opportunities when we could have built our lives with ‘gold, silver and precious stones’! (1 Cor.3:12). For it is our same Lord God who said: “Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you” if you “return to the Lord” with a repentance “rending your hearts” (Joel 2:25, 13). He Himself is the Lord who restored the fortunes of Job twofold (Job 42:10). Repeatedly we see in the Word promises to Israel regarding the restoration of their fortunes (Ezek. 36:33-38; Jer.29: 14).

Not only that the Lord does not remember the sins we have repented of and forsaken (Heb.8:12), but also He has prepared for us further opportunities to overcome in the areas we have failed in the past! Paul was not a man who had never committed any mistakes. But take heed what he says at the end of his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). If so, let us praise God for we are not late in rewriting the records of our past failures with stories of glorious victory! We still have the golden opportunity to stand among the 144,000 who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev.14:4), and be closest to the Lord Jesus for all eternity long as His beloved bride; Hallelujah!

Yes, it is only through real repentance that we can enjoy the real liberty of justification by faith. The Heavenly Father looks at us in Christ as if we have never fallen! And our Heavenly Bridegroom is strong enough to “keep us from stumbling and make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy”! (Jude 24).

So henceforth let us deeply repent each day of the subtle areas of unChristlikeness we see in ourselves as we see His glory in the mirror of His Word (2 Cor. 3:18; James 1:23), and thus soar like an eagle into heavenly heights with the Lover of our soul ( Isaiah 40:31; Song. 4:8)………..


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