As sinners our natural response to biblical instructions is to say “no”. It is our default position if you will. God tells us how to behave, and we say no. God says that our thoughts are to be about Him and our goal is to be His glory. And we say no. God says we are to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. And we say no. We must repent of that behavior. We must repent of those thoughts. We must repent of those emotional responses. And we must repent of those times when we say “yes” but live no.
Repentance is a necessary part of the Christian life. When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the town church in Wittenberg he wrote this, “When our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said ‘Repent’ He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” And true repentance has to be more than simply saying some words on Sunday morning. It must be heartfelt and life changing.
True repentance is a willingness to let God change us in any way He so chooses—no limits and no exceptions. And maybe that’s why we resist so hard. It’s scary, isn’t it? It’s scary to think that God would take me and make me something other than I am when I’m perfectly comfortable this way. Most of you know the difficulties Joan and I have been going through with our home. It is not easy to be constantly moving about from one place to another—sleeping here, eating there. Wondering when we’ll be able to return to our place and get back that sense of normal life. Believe me, we’re so looking forward to that day.
That day will come fairly soon and things Joan and Terry will return to normal. But when you and I repent of our sins, truly and completely, when we let God change us, there will be no going back. There will be a new normal and a new level of comfort. Things which we have long clutched to our chests will no longer be there for us. Instead we will be Kingdom people—which is what we are meant to be. Mark tells us that when Jesus began His earthly ministry He went into Galilee preaching Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. And citizens of the Kingdom are different.
But friends, what a great day that will be for us because we do indeed bear a burden when we sin. We know what our sin is and it weighs us down, even if we don’t admit it to ourselves. But that burden will be lifted when you truly repent and allow God to do as He wills with you. Instead of the yoke of sin we will bear the yoke of Christ, and it is light and easy. Instead of the dimness of our natural vision we will see with a new light, the light of Christ Himself. Instead of the confusion which so often rules our lives, we will have complete clarity, because it is God’s clarity, His gracious giving of His wisdom to the people of His calling.