Chapter 4. Repentance
per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #28
There is a time for celebration and rejoicing and for worshiping God, and then there is a time for mourning and grieving and laying bare our deeds before the Lord.
Consider what James says,
“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:8-10 ESV
Admitting that we have done wrong is one of the most freeing experiences. Repentance is deep intimacy with The Father.
Yet it is not a normal human response to admit wrongdoing. In fact, our natural response is to cover up and to hide our sins.
But think about it, when we cover up our sins we still have them with us.
They bury into our hearts and minds with the memory and emotions. We are never free of our sin when we harbour it in our selves.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 ESV
At the very beginning when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden we see this propensity to cover over our sin. We read,
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:8 NIV
We have been hiding ourselves ever since.
“But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9-12 NIV
Do you notice the excuses, the blaming, the rationalizations? Don’t we all continue in sins of avoidance and fear, of shame and covering over?
The man blamed the woman (9), the woman blamed the serpent, and ever since we have been making excuses and blaming others. We have been unable to admit our wrong and have carried death as a result.
God saw this and understood the depths of the problem. Shame was coiled around us, guilt was heaped on our heads, and we were emotionally and psychologically unable to admit wrong. We are fearful of the exposure that confession requires.
Then in verse 21 we read, “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 NIV
In one amazing act of grace, God, who made all things unto life, now kills an animal/s in order to provide a covering and to remove shame.
In a powerful prophetic act looking ahead to the cross, God takes on our sin and death so that we might be all that God originally intended.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
God was committed to our covering and our keeping right from the start, and has since played that out through Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Our sin is buried with Christ when we accept his salvation and turn from our wrongs.
In fact, the blood covering of Christ is the only thing that truly covers our sin and washes it away.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 ESV
Imagine in your mind’s eye the cross of Jesus Christ. And imagine the blood that fell from Christ onto the ground at the foot of that cross.
Imagine that you bring your sins and lay them down at the foot of the cross, and imagine that Christ’s blood, as it soaks into the ground, takes your sin with it.
Burying the sin, washing the sin away, covering over the sin.
This is the work of Christ, not us. We cannot bury our own sin. We cannot cover over our own sin. Only Christ can do this.
When we try to cover over our own sin we simply become hardened of heart. In trying to keep our sin secret we build a wall between ourself and God.
READ all of Psalm 32
If you think that you are above sin, consider this verse, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32 NIV
It is imperative that all of us, no matter our station or influence, allow repentance. The leaders amongst us should be the first on our knees before the Lord, the first to repent and to enter into a contrition of spirit before the Lord.
Let us never forget that, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18 ESV
And that, “As the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ ” James 4:6b NLT
We are given a conscience, a knowledge built into us, of right and wrong. And when we violate this sense of right and wrong we have only two choices.
One, we labor under the sin, trying to get free, cover it over ourselves, hide it, but then like anything that goes bad we are simply left with a poison in our hearts and minds. We are not free, we are caught. And there is a deep divide between ourselves and God.
There is a better way. Our second option is to confess our sins to God and each other.
“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2: 12-13 ESV
Bringing our sin out into the open allows the light of Christ to come upon it and us. And in the shift deep within our being as we bring our wrongs into the light, we find that we are given the gift of sorrow and grief and mourning. We come near to God in humility and repentance.
We grieve over our sin. We acknowledge it. We say, “I did this.” And without excuse or blame we simply stand before the living God.
“As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!” Psalm 41:4 ESV
Instead of trying to cover over our own wrongs, we find that God then covers over our wrong. Jesus (who already took it over 2000 years ago) takes our sin and washes us clean with his blood. Our wrongdoing is buried along with Christ’s sacrificial death and we are free.
“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”
Psalm 32:5 ESV
And in our acknowledgement we experience and really come to know that God is for us.
The Psalmist put it this way, “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” Psalms 3:3 NIV
God surrounds us and lifts us up. We come broken on our knees before him, and we find ourselves standing beside the Lord.
Repentance is the key to this sort of freedom. Repentance enables us to receive God’s grace.
Nothing else can do this. Without repentance we are simply stuck in our sin.
But with repentance we find life.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;”
Isaiah 61:1 ESV
With repentance we are rich in heart and mind. We find ourselves, as this verse declares the Living Christ, with our broken hearts bound up, our captivity to sin is turned into liberty of life, and the prisons and bondage of guilt are opened and freed off of us.
As we accept and agree with the sacrifice of Christ the forgiveness established on the cross over 2000 years ago becomes our own. Repentance is our hearts position to receive all the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Without repentance we are merely in contempt of the cross, and against the work of the Lord. But with repentance we find the habitation of God in our very lives and we receive his gladness throughout our whole life.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 ESV
”God I come before you today in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, bringing my sins (they are…. ) to the foot of your cross. These sins, my guilt, and my shame have weighed us down and crippled our hearts and minds.
We are tired of our sin and wrongdoing, and today we say, “No more” in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. Today I declare enough is enough and I release my sins unto you God. We enter into a contrite heart and we ask for a deep repentance before you.
Leaving our sins at the foot of your cross, declaring them covered by the blood of the Lamb, they are washed away and cancelled by the power of our Living Lord Jesus Christ. I take unto myself your salvation to every part of my being. We receive your grace and give praise, declaring all glory to you God. Amen”
We cannot know our sin without the revelation of the Holy Spirit. While repentance may feel bad to us we come to find that it is a gift from God. In this, our response turns from one of avoiding our sin and our need of repentance to coming before God eager to know how we might be free.
Repentance, after all, is the path of healing and freedom for all of us. In Psalm we read, “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” Psalm 51:17 NLT
We can therefore take courage to come before the Lord with a broken and repentant heart. As leaders we want to lead the way in this. The people we serve need to know that it is always okay to bring our sins out into the open before the Lord. As leaders we set the tone.
Part of making repentance normal amongst us, is creating a culture of safety in our churches. We must normalize our growth processes and in this we must normalize the fact that we are sinners before a holy God, that God has covered over our sin, and that we are invited to enter into his covering. There is no shame in this — only cause for celebration.
This means, that we remove shame and condemnation as part of our ministry to each other. Shame and condemnation are of the enemy, not the Lord. Shame and condemnation keep us from bringing our sin to God — and this keeps us bound. God’s heart is for the exact opposite.
God’s heart wants us free to bring our sin, failures and regrets to him. This is, in many ways, the ministry of the body of Christ on this earth. We are to participate and lead people to the grace of God. We do this as we create emotional safety for each other as we refuse to condemn, blame, or bring shame.
1. Begin to listen to your language and the words, and the unspoken messages beneath your words, and see how much shame and condemnation is in your church.
2. Repent and allow your heart to be broken over the amount of shame and condemnation that is in your fellowship of believers — it should not be there.
3. Ask the Lord to show you a new way. Invite the grace of the Lord to penetrate your own heart and mind first, and then to penetrate the culture of your church body. We must be changed by the grace of God or all we have is religion, and religion kills; we want the life of Christ.
As a church leadership team and as a body of believers it is important to come together and into agreement with the grace of the Lord, and to break our agreements with the enemy’s shame and condemnations.
We do this as we gather together and as we talk about shame and how damaging it is to our hearts in the Lord. When we are bound up in shame we cannot see the love of God. And where we are bound up in condemnations we are unable to know the love of God.
We desperately need freedom from shame and condemnation and into the love of Jesus Christ. We must cry out to God for this freedom for only the work of Jesus is powerful enough to reach into our deepest hearts with a touch that heals us and restores us and makes us glad.
I suggest that as a family, as a leadership team, and even as a congregation that you confess to your agreements to shame and condemnation (remember, these are agreements with satan), and make a new agreement with the Lord for mutual blessing and honouring of each other.
We are called to be healing agents of Jesus in this world. To do this we must renounce shame and condemnation and we must take on the grace of our Lord. In this we become safe people and safe churches so that repentance comes naturally and easily to us, and in this repentance we are transformed into the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“We come before you God in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We confess that we have been under the shame and condemnation of the enemy. We have even been participants of shame and condemnation, even bringing these things to those around us. We are sorry.
Today, in the name and the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ we renounce shame and condemnation. We refuse to use them any longer to control or manipulate each other. We realize that shame and condemnation are of the enemy and not God.
Please alert our spirits to these things of the enemy. Help our ears and our understanding to hear when we are speaking shame or condemnation, help our hearts to know when we are carrying shame or condemnation deep inside ourselves. Heal us, help us, restore us.
Today we make new agreements unto the grace and love of our Lord Jesus Christ. We recognize that the grace of Jesus is powerful to make us new creatures and to free us unto all holiness and godliness. We receive your grace today God. Thank you for making us new.”
Summary – repentance
Repentance is key to our healing and freedom. Joel 2:12-13, Psalm 57:17
Hiding our sin never bears good fruit. Psalm 32:3-5, Proverbs 28:13
God is understanding. Isaiah 1:18, Exodus 34:6
We can come to Him with everything. James 4:6, Psalm 34:18
9. Adam was really blaming God for giving him the woman