Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Real Repentance....

Real repentance is a five-fold process, and I’ve shared this before.

1. Conviction

It starts with conviction, that is a work of God. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit would come to convict us of sin. Works through the conscience, the Scriptures, works through good friends, and Bible teaching. And conviction is where you feel it, you know it, you blew it. Conviction, that comes from God.

2. Confession

Now at this point, we can grieve, quench, or resist, the Bible says, the Holy Spirit. Or we can agree with God. Here it says that they declared God just, that’s agreeing with God. That’s what they’re doing. “You’re right, I’m wrong.” That moves on to confession. Confession is declaring, talking about, owning it. “You’re right, God, I’m wrong. The Bible says something, and I am in violation of what you say.” Confession is talking to God about your sin. Confession is talking to others about your sin, and some of you haven’t repented—your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, don’t even know, your spouse, what you’ve done, or are doing. You’ve not repented. You’re just waiting to get caught, and if you never get caught, you’re never going to talk about it. This is my exhortation and admonition to you, to confess, to talk about it. To say, “You know what? There’s some stuff I need to tell you. We need to have that conversation. Here’s who I am, here’s what I’ve done.” Confession is talking about sin with God, whom you’ve sinned against, and talking with people about sin, whom you’ve sinned against. That’s why the Bible says in 1 John 1:9, “if we confess our sin,” gotta talk about it. Conviction, confession. Confession is responding.

3. Repentance

Third is repentance. Repentance is not managing, or minimizing sin. “I used to do it every week, now I do it once a month, or once every six months, or once a year. I used to, you know, do it to this degree, and I’ve ratcheted it back a little bit. I’m trying to manage, or I’m trying to minimize, or maintain my sin.” That’s not it. Our sin is worse than we think. Our sin is so bad that God, Jesus, had to die for it. And if it’s important enough for Jesus to die for, we need to put it to death. We need to put it to death. If Jesus died for that sin, then that sin must die. Can’t just wound it, you have to kill it. Repentance is the putting to death of sin, putting it to death, not just feeling bad. Not just saying you’re sorry. Not just trying harder. Killing it, because it killed Jesus.

4. Restitution

This leads to step number four—and by the way, that was John’s whole ministry: repent, repent, repent. That’s what he’s getting at. Step number four then is restitution, and this is not penance, where you pay God back, this is just trying to make it right. If you’ve stolen, you should pay it back. If you’ve lied about someone and damaged their reputation, you need to go to those people you’ve lied to and say, “That wasn’t true. I sinned and I lied.” See, because some of you have done great, horrific damage to other people, and you can tell God, “I’m sorry.” And you can tell them, “I’m sorry,” but if you don’t try and fix it, it’s like shooting someone and driving away, rather than giving them a ride to the hospital. “Sorry, that hurts. Good luck with that, good-bye.” No, real repentance is: “And I need to try and make this right in as much as by God’s grace I’m able, ‘cause if I was part of your wounding, I need to be part of your healing, if you will let me.” Conviction, confession, repentance, restitution.

5. Reconciliation

Step number five, reconciliation. This is where God and people are reconciled, and people and people are reconciled, that Jesus takes away sin, that reconciliation may happen. Jesus makes this possible through his death, burial, resurrection. That’s the means for reconciliation. Let me say this: forgiveness takes one person. Repentance takes one person. Reconciliation takes two. If you have sinned, or when you sin, ‘cause we’re all sinning, you go to the person you’ve sinned against and you repent. “I have sinned. You may have not even known about it, but let me come clean and be honest. Let me tell you who I am, and what I’ve done, or what I’ve failed to do. And I’m repenting, I’m killing that. It’s gonna stop by the grace of God.” Takes one person to repent. What do you have to repent of? Who do you need to talk to? What needs to be made known?

It takes one person to forgive. “I forgive you for what you’ve done, or failed to do.” Some of you would say, “I cannot forgive them, because they have not repented.” You must forgive them either way, because it frees you of bitterness. It opens the door of reconciliation. You are willing to meet them at the threshold, and they must turn from sin, and walk toward you. Additionally, it leaves them to God. “God, I have forgiven them. They are now in your hands. My prayer is that they would repent, and if not, justice will come from you.” Either justice comes from the cross of Jesus, or justice comes in hell, either way, justice comes. Who do you need to forgive? What have they done? Some of you would say, “I cannot forgive.” You must. You must.

And I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit. I didn’t intend to say this, and I didn’t say this all day. I feel as if some of you right now in your mind are saying this—and if this is you, this is a gift to you from the Holy Spirit. “I cannot forgive myself.” And let me tell you that, as spiritual as that sounds, it’s blasphemy, because if the God of the Bible forgives you, and you will not forgive yourself, you are saying that you are above the God of the Bible. What you’re saying is when Jesus declared on the cross, “Father, forgive them,” you are saying, “Even if the Father forgives me, I do not forgive myself.” And so you are in effect saying, “I am a superior God than him.” You need to repent of sin. You need to forgive those who’ve sinned against you, and you need not say that you cannot forgive yourself, because it’s blasphemy. If Jesus forgives you, there is no higher God, and you and I have no right to place ourselves above Jesus, and to withhold from ourselves forgiveness that he guarantees through his death and resurrection. This is all very serious business.

And Jesus declares that John is great, because he calls people to repentance. He cut through all of the cultural clutter, and noise, and nonsense. He does not settle for religious repentance, pagan repentance, worldly sorrow, mere confession, blame shifting, minimizing, excuse making, mere conviction, or mere confession. He lays an ax at the root of the problem, and he goes after sin with a furious courage, and he calls people to repent of sin. And God would call us all to repent of sin, because he loves us. And sin leads to death, and repentance is a gift to be enjoyed. That is the greatness of John.

And again, some in this account of Luke, they receive it, and they go down to the river, and they say publicly with their actions, “I’m a sinner, and I’m repenting.” And others reject, and they become religious, and they fight, and they argue, and they defend themselves to their own shame and folly. And you and I are given this divine moment of opportunity to make that decision for ourselves. Will we declare God to be just, by ourselves declaring ourselves to be unjust, and in need of his justice through the cross of Jesus? You know why John had such strong reaction now, don’t you? He was loved and hated, but he could not be ignored. That’s John.

From the sermon notes, "John The Baptizer Part 2" by Pastor Mark Driscoll

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