I have good news for those of us who long to repent afresh this morning.
Like all men, we are horrible worshipers who defy God each and every hour.
Like all men, we deserve the full measure of his wrath. It is a wonder he keeps us around as long as he does. Our sins are odious to him. Every sinful breath we take is a tribute towards his long-suffering patience shown to his enemies.
Like all men, we persistently get a foretaste of his hatred for sin. His divine curse has already been pronounced upon our family tree; this happened immediately after the fall of our first parents. Since then, it has been seen and felt by each and every generation. Persistently, daily, God’s curse on sin is manifest in our souls, bodies, relationships, societies, and universe. Nothing remains pure and holy. Nothing is left unaffected. No one escapes. Everything and everybody are cursed, and the worse is yet to come. Why is this? It is because God hates sin, sinner, and Satan, and he proves his wrath by pouring out representative curses each and every day.
However, like all men, we are naturally and sinfully dull. We remain unconcerned about God’s holiness, our iniquity, his warnings, and the final judgment. Horrifically, we are not even interested in the one Gospel remedy presented for consideration. No, we are stupidly dull, totally deprave, incessantly rebellious, and headed for damning justice.
Naturally, we remain as the inhabitants of Sodom. They met God’s angels. They heard God’s preacher. They experienced God’s wrath. However, still they lusted for their visitors and groped about in blindness seeking to tear down Lot’s door and satisfy their rank desires. They were dull, totally depraved. and they proved it by their lack of repentance.
Naturally, we are like Pharaoh and the many of the Egyptians. They too met God’s minister and angel. They witnessed sign after sign. They experienced plague after plague, but they would not relent and repent. Consequently, to their very end they rebelled. They arrogantly rushed into the miraculously divided Red Sea in their efforts to defy God and enslave his people. They proved to be deprave and dull to the end.
Naturally, we are just like those presented in the Revelation given to John — chapters 8-11. In the third vision given to John, five trumpet playing angels blow their horns. Following their warning blasts, they pour out God’s wrath upon the planet and the populace. Trumpet after trumpet is heralded calling God’s enemies to repent. Curse after curse ensues, and by the end of the ninth chapter, they experience:
- Burned trees
- Burned grass
- Mountains thrown into the sea
- Seas bloodied
- 33% of sea creatures destroyed
- Stars falling from heaven
- Rivers and springs ruined
- People perishing for lack of good water
- Sun, moon, and starts struck; darkness resulting
- A heavenly voice promising the worst is yet to come
- The opening of the bottomless pit
- Smoke ruining the air
- Plague of destroying locusts killing people
- Harmed people begging for death
- Ascendancy of hellish leadership
- A heavenly voice calling, “Woe, woe, woe!”
- Plagues killing a third of humanity
However, after all these warnings and expressions of God’s anger, how do they respond?
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts. (Revelation 9:20-21)
They will not repent. They have no interest in doing so. It is as if God’s Word is true:
- There is no one righteous.
- There is no one seeking God.
- There is no one running to the Father on their own
- They are like leopards who can not change their spots.
- They are dead in their trespasses and sins.
- They refuse to bow the knee and kiss the Son.
- They have ears that appear shut.
- They have eyes that seem closed.
- They have hearts that hardened.
- They have minds, but they prove to be fools.
- They receive God’s revelation, but they suppress it.
- They receive God’s revelation, but they replace it.
- They have free will, but they freely choose horribly.
- They remained deprave, damned, and dull.
- They have not faith.
- They will not repent.
- They are totally deprave.
Friends, this is the condition of all men and women left to themselves.
However, there is good news. While man has free will, God has a freer will, and his freer will is strong enough to fantastically affect our free will.
How many of us, reading this devotional, find ourselves responding differently to the revelation, curse, and Gospel of God?
For some reason, we are not so interested in denying God’s holiness, dismissing our iniquity, diminishing his warnings, and discounting his final judgment.
For some reason, we are thirsty for God and his Gospel.
Oh, we are not what we want to be, but we are not what we used to be. We once were only filled with darkness, but now we see the light. Our ears were once plugged, but now we hear. Our hearts were hard as stone, but we find we have been pulverized and aerated from above. We have faith; we repent; but it is as if we have been given these response as gifts. Our dull minds have been enlightened, our dead hearts inflamed; and our free wills have been gloriously affected. All this is unnatural. It is supernatural. And we don’t for a moment take responsibility for our being revived, regenerated, or resuscitated. We just are. We don’t deserve it, but we know we have been graciously touched by God’s irresistible and effectual Spirit.
Now, as a consequence we have received new hearts, new records, new identities, new desires, new callings, and a new inheritances. Formerly, we only had a taste for the world, but now we have a sweet hunger to worship. Sadly, our flesh is still depraved, and it wants what it wants, but happily our souls are not so dull. We have a new competing inclination. We are those indwelt by God and with this comes a desire to remember his Law, repent, and recover as worshipers.
Therefore friends, let us be humble. In the words of Scripture, “What do we have that we have not received.” We have no reason to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.
Secondly, let us be happy. Let us take great delight in our desire to repent. Let us find great joy in the fact that God will not leave us alone following our sin. This is not normal. This is not natural. This is supernatural, and it is the ongoing gift of God. Repentance is not a one and done transaction. Sure, there is an initial repentance that leads to the one-time act of justification, but there is also a repeated repentance that should be the believer’s experience every day and every hour.
Finally, let us be holy. Let us enjoy the new thirst we have and seek to worship God well. It is a fantastic thing to enjoy and glorify God. However, keep in mind, this begins with remembering, repenting, and recovering. (Revelation 2:5) And keep in mind, this always follows the sovereign grace of our loving Lord.