Repentance; August 25, 2021

Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

This is a rightly well-known passage, but I think it doesn’t get enough emphasis. At the same time, those who do know it tend to fo­cus on “I came to call sinners,” and gloss over the “to repentance” part. Both are essential. It is true that “holier than thou” types tend to shy away from anyone who doesn’t meet their essentially social stan­dards, and those are indeed the kind of people Jesus was responding to, but the flip side of that is that some people, saying “Jesus loves me just as I am,” make no effort to change. That’s certainly not in­dicative of repentance! Jesus indeed loves us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are. He is constantly, and consistently, calling us to draw closer to Him, to be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” (Romans 12:2) It’s not that we don’t sin, and it’s not that such sin forever cuts us off from salvation, but rather that we can’t wallow in our sin, being satisfied with it. John’s first letter deals with that a lot, repeatedly. You could even say it’s a lengthy exposition on these two verses. The Gospel, that is, the Good News, is that God en­ables us to become what He causes us to want to become, that is, children in the likeness of His Son. (2 Corinthians 3:18) That is one of the major themes of Paul’s letter to the Romans. We are not to condemn ourselves – that’s what the devil is constantly trying to do – but neither are we to be satisfied with where we are. That’s what Paul wrote about so memorably in Philippians 3:7-16. Any parent will tell you they love their children as they are, but they also want their children to keep growing, and God is exactly the same with us.

I have written repeatedly about two massive encounters with this issue. The first was when the Lord showed me the condition of my soul, for a brief instant, and I collapsed in repentant tears. The second was years later, when on the basis of 2 Peter 1:9 I had a revelation that once a sin is confessed and repented of, it really is gone, com­pletely washed away, and it is not an enduring part of my character. The devil tries to define us by our sins and weaknesses, and too often we let him get away with it. I learned that I am defined by what God says about me, not by what I have done, if I have repented of my sin. Today we will be with someone who needs this truth revealed to their heart. I can’t force him to accept it but I can speak it to him in love and demonstrate it with my actions, so that the Holy Spirit may plant it in his heart.

Father, thank You for Your truly amazing grace. Help me be ever more effective as a channel of that grace, so that more and more people may be liberated from the lies of the devil to walk in the light of Your life, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

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