Repentance; March 22, 2018

Hosea 6:1 “Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.”

On the face of it, the first three verses of this chapter are a magnificent declaration of repentance and faith. Verse three has been set to music in Japanese as a very nice church song, and as such I delight to sing it as a promise of revival. However, the following verses indicate that in context, those who sere saying this sort of thing were doing so hypocritically, presuming on God rather than genuinely repenting. If these three verses are declared from the heart and lived out, you could hardly do better at pleasing God. However, there is a tinge of “do this so God will do that” about them. Verse 6 is a statement by God that He wants our hearts rather than our religious rituals. The Japanese word for “repentance” is very good. It is a compound that means, “regret and do over.” Regret means acknowledging that we have done wrong, and not just that we don’t enjoy the consequences of what we have done. A lot of what passes for repentance is just that, but as soon as we escape those consequences, we are back at whatever brought them on. The flip side of that is doing over. If we say, “I was wrong,” but then make no move actually to change, that’s not repentance either. Usually true repentance involves acknowledging to God that we can’t do it right on our own, and asking Him to do it right through us. He’s happy to oblige, as 1 John 1:9 says. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” God taught Hosea about repentance through his marriage, and He seeks to teach us as well. We would do well to learn the lesson!

I’ve had my own encounters with repentance and they have taught me that indeed, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) I have also learned that God’s forgiveness is real, and once I have repented in truth, I don’t have to drag around the guilt of what I have done. That’s glorious good news indeed! Sometime God has to discipline me, even painfully, but when I turn to Him instead of just running from the pain, the healing and restoration are glorious. I think the reason I like the song made from verse three (and translated it so we could sing it bilingually) is that God has rescued me from hypocrisy so that I can sing it with a clear conscience. As a pastor I have to deal with my own human imperfection even as I deal with that of others. All of us need to keep our repentance up to date, as even Billy Graham affirmed not long before he died. However, I serve a perfect Savior, and my life is hidden in Him. The fact that is possible by faith is the very essence of the Gospel, and I must proclaim it boldly.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for reminding me of Your truth morning by morning. Help me indeed live it out more and more fully and consistently, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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