2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
This verse was very popular in some circles back around 1978, pushed particularly by Rock Church of Virginia Beach, but it’s obvious it wasn’t taken seriously back then. I heard it again after the 9/11 attack in New York. This time the response was more widespread, but certainly no more lasting. We tend to want God to protect and bless us, getting us out of our messes, without paying much if any attention to what He has said about how we are to live. A speaker at this conference yesterday said that bank robbers don’t hold a prayer meeting for success before going to rob a bank, but I have read recently of things just about that absurd. One example was relatives praying for a guilty criminal to be acquitted in court, even though there had been no repentance on the part of the perpetrator, or really remorse on the part of those praying. That’s spitting in God’s face! America is at a turning point right now, and in some areas of society (not necessarily geographical) is evidently under judgment. If the nation will actually take this verse to heart, there is hope, because God is indeed a God of mercy. However, He is also perfectly holy and just, and He cannot be ignored. Ezekiel 18:33 and various other passages make it clear that God takes no delight in squashing people. The ultimate example of that is, of course, expressed in John 3:16. However, God is not interested in lip service; He is after repentance.
I have had times of true repentance that were very needed; I do know what it looks like. However, I have also had times when I said the right things but didn’t change my behavior; that isn’t repentance. As a pastor I seek to lead people to repentance, but I can’t force it on anyone. Sadly, I have baptized a few people who hadn’t really repented. Instead of getting born again, they just got wet. I am to speak the truth in love, and above all I am to pray. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment, and it is foolish for me to try to do His job, but I can be His instrument, His mouthpiece at times. Above all, I must be careful that my own repentance is up to date, not letting any unconfessed sin fester, but walking in the light at all times, because my Lord is worthy of nothing less.
Father, thank You for Your grace. I have taken it lightly more times than I like to think about, and really, more times than I know. Help me be an instrument of grace, walking in personal holiness and leading others to do the same, so that You may indeed have a spotless bride for Your Son, as You desire and intend. Thank You. Praise God!