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Cleaning Up One's Act Is Not Repentance

"And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; And he gave them power over unclean spirits;" Mark 6:7 Notice in this passage that being born again did not confer on them automatic power and authority. These men had walked for quite awhile with Jesus, but they could do nothing until he GAVE them power to go out in his Name. v 12-13: "And they went out, and preached that men should repent. and they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them." Notice that they preached repentance before they did anything else. We live in a day of "cheap grace." Men preach that all you have to do is repeat "the sinner's prayer," and zippo! You're saved! Hold on, it doesn't work that way. If you're approaching the Most High God with the repetition of a pre-written prayer, it will probably be to no avail. Clearly in this passage we see the disciples demanding repentance first. What is repentance? Sometimes sinners stay away from God because they are caught in sin that they know they cannot overcome. A man knows he has a violent temper, and he knows there is no way to stop it, so he stays away from God. Another man knows he is steeped in pride as he climbs the corporate ladder, and he cannot imagine himself walking in humility, so he stays away from God. Someone else is hooked on pornography and he knows beyond any shadow of doubt that he cannot overcome this sin. So he stays away from God. The fallacy is the idea that one needs to clean up before coming to God, and that's a fallacy because it's humanly impossible. It's like avoiding a shower until you're clean. Whatever a person is trapped in, he knows he can't escape it. Deep down he's very aware that he's steeped in sin, and he's also very aware that he can't overcome it. The demand that he extricate himself before coming to God is a Satanic lie that will damn him. We human beings do not have the power to escape sin. We might get a victory here or there, and pat ourselves on the back for being smart enough to overcome some stronghold in our lives. But anyone who's been there knows that there will always be another front and then another. If a person makes every effort to part from sin before coming to God, he'll never come. Cleaning up one's act is not repentance. No, repentance is far greater than that. Repentance means surrendering to God your sin, your weakness, and your self- reliance, which is pride. It means giving up that pride, giving up control over one's life, humbling oneself before God in a lifetime commitment. “A Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men— extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other;" Luke 18:10-14 Repentance is taking the crown off one's head and bowing before the Crown on Jesus's head. It means transferring control over one's life to the sovereign control of God. It means taking the focus off oneself, and bowing before the Lord. It means being willing for the Lord to come into one's heart and make the changes that HE wants to make. If you have been discouraged because you know you're a sinner hopelessly bound in whatever brand of sin is your lot, do not stay away from God because of it. He knows you cannot overcome it; what he wants is your surrender to him. Once you have truly bowed the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ, once you have completely surrendered your life to him, then you will be forgiven and you will enter a story, a journey, an adventure with him that will change everything about you, not just the sin you are focused on. Don't stay away. Instead, bow before him in heartfelt surrender. And there ...he will receive you. "Just as I am, and waiting not to rid my soul of one dark blot, to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot, O Lamb of God, I come, I come." -Just As I Am More:


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