Repentance: Confess & Forsake

I was a blasphemer and enemy of God my whole life until Father God drew me to Lord Jesus at age forty-five and I was radically converted to Christ.  At that time I had been living on the street for three years, addicted to alcohol and meth, stealing every day, hating myself and others, and crossing boundaries I never thought I would cross in my life—I was greatly demonized and my heart was set on evil.

The last eleven months I was incarcerated six times—three for theft, once for domestic violence assault, once for felony drug possession, and then my fifth DUI in a car I stole from Nevada.  I was banned from the city of Tempe, AZ, by a judge, via court order.

Through unfathomable mercy, God granted me repentance.  He brought me to faith in Christ, forgave my sins, and replaced my heart of stone with a heart of flesh, placing His Spirit in me.

God directed my path to the Phoenix Rescue Mission where I completed a two-year, Christ-centered recovery and discipleship program.  The Word of God cut into my heart and crushed the false beliefs that had allowed lies to operate in my life—the thief came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus the Christ came that we may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).  I was transformed by the renewal of my mind (Romans 12:2).  God sent out his Word and healed me, and delivered me from my destruction (Psalm 107:20).

Three months into the program at Phoenix Rescue Mission my heart was convicted by the Word and Spirit of God to confess a crime that I had not been charged with.  Previously, after my arrest in the car I stole, the only charge I received was Aggravated DUI.  As the Holy Spirit was dealing with my heart, I realized, through tears, that I needed to confess this crime to honor my loving Father and make right with the victim of my crime and and the governing authorities instituted by God (Romans 13:1).  I needed to trust in God—it was not something I could do in my own strength so I cried out to God and He was faithful to guide and uphold me.

Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”

All who hide their sins do not prosper. But those who confess their sins receive mercy.  King David gives us an inspired, first-hand testimony of the painful, agonizing grief of unconfessed sin:

Psalm 32:1-5
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

From The Preacher’s Outline & Sermon Bible commentary:

Note that the word “covered” refers to God’s forgiveness of David’s sin, not his concealing of it.  Notice also David’s physical, spiritual, and emotional condition during the period that he kept silent—he refused to confess and deal with his sin.

The word “prosper” (tsalach) literally means to push or move forward.  If we refuse to acknowledge our sin and confess it to God, we do not prosper.  To the contrary, we suffer just as David suffered.  We discover:

  • that our fellowship with God is severed
  • that God’s blessing and guidance is forfeited
  • that our prayers became powerless and ineffectual
  • that our spiritual growth is stunted
  • that our service becomes fruitless
  • that joy ceases

We will never move forward in life, we will not succeed and prosper, until we deal with our sin.  We deal with sin first by confessing it.

Confession is recognizing sin, acknowledging it as such, and admitting to God what He already knows. In order for mercy to be extended, our confession must be accompanied by repentance, the forsaking of the sin.

Genuine repentance is a change of heart and mind that results in a change of conduct.

Do you hate your sin?  Why?

It is not enough to simply apologize to God for sin without repenting of it. The Greek word for confess (homologeo) means to say the same thing about or to agree with (1 John 1:9).

When we honestly confess our sin to God, we agree with Him that:

  • It is sin
  • it can only be atoned for through the blood of Christ
  • it must not continue in our lives

What about restitution?

In addition to our confession and repentance, we should also have the intention to make restitution for wrongs committed. Then we need to follow through with those intentions and back up our words with action.

Luke 19:8And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.  And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.”

Beloved, note the mercy and forgiveness of God when we sincerely confess our sins:

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Proverbs 28:14 “Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”

If we are wise, we will make prompt confession of sin when God’s Spirit convicts us (John 16:8). We need to guard against a hardened heart that is insensitive to or callous toward sin. We should never allow our hearts to become so insensitive that the convictions of God’s Spirit no long bother us.

What does our Lord Jesus delight in?  Isaiah 11:3 states, “And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

When Scripture says we are to fear sin and its consequences, what specifically is it referring to?  We are to fear:

  • the separation from God and people that sin produces
  • the enslaving, addicting power of sin that can so easily take over our lives
  • the shame and condemnation sin will bring upon us
  • the pain and disgrace sin will cause our families
  • the emotional, mental, and often physical pain sin will inflict on us
  • the loss of employment and other financial difficulties sin might bring about
  • the punishment of our nation’s legal system for certain acts
  • the judgment and retribution of God

Sin brings death (Romans 6:23; James 1:15).  Therefore, when we are afraid of sin, when we tremble at the very thought of sin’s repercussions, we should count ourselves blessed.  And we should do everything possible to stay away from sin. But if our hearts are numb to sin’s painful aftermath, we will have to endure the inevitable consequences it brings.

Proverbs 29:1 “Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.”

2 Chronicles 36:16 “But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.”

Job 9:4 “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered?”

Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Repentance is a gift from God.  He positions us to be in right-standing so that truth and love can flourish in our relationships with Him and others.  Sin separates us from Him and people.  But God.

In his letter to the Romans, addressing the depravity of man, Paul writes: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).

Paul’s point is a simple one; it is God who leads sinners to repentance.

2 Timothy 2:24-25And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

Repentance is a gift.  It is an act of the Holy Spirit.  Our naturally stubborn, rebellious hearts despise and reject the notion of repentance apart from the Spirit of God.  Repentance is produced by godly sorrow, granted to us by God Himself.

2 Corinthians 7:10-12For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly sorrow produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly sorrow has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment!  At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”

We would not even conceive of such a thing left to our own wisdom and understanding.  Like Adam, we would come up with all sorts of excuses for our sin and would point our depraved fingers at everyone else around.  But by His grace, God grants repentance to us and adopts us as His children: “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).  When our minds grow weary and our hearts doubt the promises of God, He remains faithful and patient “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

It is my sin that caused Jesus to be crucified, paying the price for my penalty with His blood, and enabling me to be reconciled to God.  What must my response be?

Acts 2:37-39Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

Is there anything more beautiful and sweet than the the fragrance of brokenness before God that leads to a repenting heart and reconciliation to our heavenly Father?  Is it not true that surrender before God and receiving His love are the exact same thing?

Have you received God’s love?  When we know we are truly loved we are free to have intimacy.  Godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation, without regret.  We can’t possibly understand our need for God’s mercy and grace unless we first understand our need to repent of our sins; and this does not happen until the Word of God and Spirit of God have revealed to us the true condition of our hearts.

Back to the testimony.   The Holy Spirit prompted me to reach out to a Phoenix detective who had another detective call me at the mission.  After sharing the details of my crime, the detective told me to stay put, and that they would come by in a week or two to explain the charges and take me into custody.

Generally, we have to face and walk out the consequences we receive (deservedly so) through our transgressions—for example, I received over $10,000 in fines which God gave me grace to pay off over multiple years.  I spent several months in and out of county jail, including two visits during my two-year recovery and discipleship program at the Phoenix Rescue Mission.  It took over a year of diligent effort to get my license back because it was cancelled on the federal registry, and then I got to drive with an ignition interlock (breathalyzer) device for a year-and-a-half.  I am not complaining!  I am grateful for the consequences because they have magnified the seriousness of my actions and humbled me before God and man.

But I also received great mercy.  A superior court judge reduced my probation by one year.  Also, the victim of my car theft, as well as law enforcement, decided not to submit charges.  More than anything I am grateful to God for exposing the wickedness of my heart, granting me repentance, powerfully revealing Himself to me, and reconciling me to my Father in heaven.  Eternally.

Brothers and sisters, this is a testimony to the goodness of God, and the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  With a broken heart and contrite spirit we stand before God naked and unashamed; that is open, transparent, and vulnerable, hiding nothing and renouncing the hidden things of shame; knowing that He is faithful, merciful, and forgiving.  Jesus is the Lover of your soul!

What is our reasonable response to God’s goodness?  Psalms 40:10I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.”

Rejoice in the LORD who is enthroned on our praises.  For the son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil.  Hallelujah!  Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

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