Repentance: The Only Way Home

August 2013 Blog:

  2 Chronicles 7:14
"If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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."
Daniel 9:16, 19
"O LORD, according to all thy righteousness, I beseech thee, let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy city Jerusalem, thy holy mountain: because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.

Psalm 51:17
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

I have been thinking lately about what repentance means and how important it is in the life of a Christian. The term it self seems a little "olde worlde" or should I say out of this world! Outside of Christian circles, I have never used the word. It (repentance) doesn’t seem to have a place in Post Modern society and this to me seems to reflect not only a deep truth, but also a great shame.

Where is God when we need Him? Perhaps this has more to do with the gradual erosion of God, the commandments and anything that appears remotely Christian, as opposed to "religious", from society. By society- I mean British society, I am conscious there are many countries where the church and state are one and the same or inseparable.

Recently I was really surprised to read about how there was a time when faith in God did matter to people was living in this country. So much so that on 26th May 1940 at the request of the then Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, who feared that Britain was due to be defeated by Germany, King George the VI, called the British people to a National Day of Prayer. The result became know as the "Miracle of Dunkirk". So God is still in the business of hearing and answering prayers, if we are in the business of saying them.

That "miracle" was almost 73 years ago. Do we need God less these days? I would argue that although as a nation we have always needed and will always need a relationship with God (no faith in God=no salvation), this needs is obscured. Society is more sophisticated and complex and with all the opportunities that we have in these modern times, we have major global challenges.

The technology revolution has made the world smaller and larger at the same time. We all have access to phones, apps, music, films, information and merchandise at our fingertips. No need to wait, we can have it ALL and we can have it ALL NOW. That being the case, why do we need God? The good book tells us that we are gods (Psalm 82:6), but this is only because we are the children of God. With Post Modernism everything is relative- particularly truth, so God and the bible are equally flexible- we only need to locate them as and when they are required.

Repentance is a verb and according to Oxford it is defined as "to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin", whilst the Cambridge dictionaries online explains it more simply as "to be very sorry for something bad you have done in the past and wish that you had not done it". Other definitions include "turning away" and agreeing with God who is holy about our "unholiness".

Biblically, repentance is an essential prerequisite of God’s forgiveness and an intimate relationship with Him. The bible also refers to the need for corporate repentance. To be repentant, we have to accept that we have done something that we need to be deeply sorry for. The good book reminds us that as humans, we start from the premise that we are fundamentally sinful and have sin and sinning as a default position. We have "all sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

The verses above were selected to convey the various aspects of repentance. In Chronicles we find God’s response to Solomon’s deep conviction, following the building of the temple, of the sins’ of the people and their need to recommit themselves to God. God’s response to Solomon holds true to us individually and collectively today. Repentance requires the following 4 steps: "humility", "prayer", "seeking after God" and "turning away" from wrong-doing.

David’s deeply sorrowful description in Psalms 51 is a "broken spirit and a contrite heart" God requires us to be heartbroken- we have to feel sorry not just say it! It has to cost us something. Sin separates us from God and we need to recognise that. Without repentance there is neither reconciliation nor reunion with God.

In Daniel we find an example of corporate repentance. In the tradition of many great intercessors, Daniel identifies with his people and acknowledges their collective sins before God. In each case referred to above, God answers. God is not mean spirited like we are. His unconditional love is always waiting for an opportunity to reunite us with Him- He is a God of fellowship. He wants us to "reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). "If we confess sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

In response to true repentance, God promises that He will hear us from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our lands. As simple as that! There is nothing complex or sophisticated about repentance. True repentance causes sorrow and shame, leaving us with the memory of the sin emblazoned upon our consciences as an antidote to repeat offending "Then you will remember your evil ways and the bad things that you did, and you will hate yourselves for all these wicked and disgusting things (Ezekiel 36:31-God’s Word translation).

I pray that like Daniel we will cry out to God, for ourselves and others in true repentance: "O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name" and He Will Do It.

©, 2013 (all rights reserved)

HopeCalls Blogs

Joy Comes In The Morning (March 2015)

Joy, God's gift to mankind which helps us to appreciate His Goodness and the Blessings of His Presence...more

Come See A Man (March 2014)

I want to paint a picture of what experiencing the good news ought to be like. To do this, I want to use that well known story...more

The Parable of The Misunderstood Father (June 2016)

The Prodigal son’s story has been replaying in my mind over and over again...more

The Birth of Hope (January 2011)

I can recall when Hopecalls was born, I remember the surge of inspiration, in the surroundings of the New Forest...more

How’s Your Faith Today? (April 2017)

In Romans 12:3, we all have a measure of faith. In fact, if it were not for that measure, we would not be part of this group...more

Reflections on Humility (February 2011)

I have been praying about developing the ability to deny self for a little while now...more

Fear: Casting Pearls Before Swine (March 2011)

I spoke to a friend recently who'd also been experiencing testing times with fear she found a practical answer in claiming the following promise...more

Happiness: Our Walk With Christ (April 2011)

Oh how I wish it was me- I would sit at our Lords feet, nothing could drag me away from His warmth and gentle wisdom. Perhaps I would be different from them...more

Anger: Zeal for Righteousness (May 2011)

We too can grow up to become solid and sturdy, robust and promising- but in reality we are working for ourselves and not the master...more

Beside Still Waters (January 2012)

Probably the most famous Psalm of all, the well known, well loved and well remembered, "The Lord's Prayer" seems to have world wide appeal...more

Salvation: A New Beginning (Nov 2013)

When we are separated from God's goodness, we are unable to thrive. As the opening text describes- God's grace saves us when we believe in Him...more

Who Is God To You? (December 2015)

When Moses boldly approached God as a friend and asked him to show him his glory I wonder what he expected...more

Goodness Stored Up! (August 2014)

Part of my exposition of the Goodness of God is to provide his own words in his Word. The wonderful thing about the Word of God is that it is living...more

Repentance: The Only Way Home (August 2013)

Where is God when we need Him? Perhaps this has more to do with the gradual erosion of God, the commandments and anything that appears remotely Christian, as opposed to "religious", from society...more

Peace: The Fruit Of Righteousness (March 2013)

We live in a world where peace is seen as a poor relation to fun, excitement, fame, fortune and popularity...more

Faith: The Substance of Our Hope (January 2013)

As believers, there is another type of faith which is more definate as it relates to faith in God...more

A Weary Soul's Rest (October 2012)

Liberally distributed throughout the bible are important statements- bible promises of rest whether physical, emotional or spiritual...more

Peace (August 2012)

Once implemented, the benefits of this exercise so fortify the Christian that they are able to withstand persecution, reviling and insults for their faith...more

Prayer: A Marvellous Journey (June 2012)

I can't deny that in the early days, prayer was like a verbal "talisman" something that I had to say to feel safe at night just in case something happened...more

If Trees Could Walk (May 2012)

Stick with me on this journey while I make this point. When we see people as trees and walking ones at that- we are not seeing our fellow man in the way God intended us to see them...more

Magnify the Lord with Me (April 2012)

Mary must have been a teenager with outstanding faith. Just imagine the scene- she is engaged to be married to Joseph and an angel appears...more

Depression: Tending the Flock (March 2012)

In these brief lines (Isaiah 40:11) we find the manifold qualities of God the Shepherd of His sheep...more

Love: The Spirit's Fruit (February 2012)

According to Paul in the verse above one of the functions of the Holy Spirit, is to bear fruit in our lives...more