Repentance & Confession
We who are Christians are familiar with the term Repentance.
“the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.”
We know that in order to be saved we need to feel repentance, to repent of our past sins and mistakes.
We feel sorry for our sins, our failings, our weaknesses. We recognize that we have been wrong, done wrong, are wrong; and we accept the rightness of God.
In Christian terms we recognize that we are sinners, have sinned, have fallen short of the glory of God, have distanced ourselves from our Maker either knowingly or unknowingly, have lived in a state of arrogance, negligence, and rebelliousness.
The Bible says in Romans 3: 23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”
This inward admission of our sin or guilt is Repentance.
It is this repentance that fuels our need or desire to be saved, to be made right with God, to put on the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
Repentance then, goes hand in hand with Confession.
“a formal statement admitting that one is guilty of a crime.”
“a statement setting out essential religious doctrine.”
I like the first definition better.
We indeed are guilty of the crime of crucifying the Son of God on that cross on Calvary so many years ago. It was our sins that nailed Him to the tree.
Isaiah 53: 5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; ”
Once we enter a state of repentance, once we understand that we cannot clean up our past and neither redeem ourselves by ourselves, once we realize that we need a Saviour who can clean up the dross and filth from our lives, justify us, sanctify us, make us whole, and finally make us right with God, we need to confess our sin, confess our need for a Savior, confess that we are nothing by ourselves, and that we need the governing care of Christ in our lives.
Repentance is incomplete by itself. It needs a Confession of one’s sins, and one’s faith in the Savior to be complete.
So, Repentance and Confession are partners.
Repentance takes place in the heart.
Confession is the outward expression of a repentant heart.
Let us take a look at this scripture from Lamentations 3: 40,41
“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD.”
“Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.”
Here the Bible tells us to:-
A. Search our ways
B. Try our ways
C. Turn to God
D. Lift up our hearts with our hands to God
The book of Lamentations is a book of woe – it was the burden of the Lord for the children of Israel laid upon the heart of one of His prophets – Jeremiah.
In this chapter Jeremiah is heavy hearted with the burden of the affliction and captivity of Israel. In the spirit of intercession he acknowledges all the hardships that have come upon them, at the same time recognizing the sin that brought it about. He then lists these phases of repentance.
A. To search our ways means to examine our lives, the paths we have taken, the decisions we have made, and see if we have offended God through them in any way.
B. To try our ways means to check whether or not our deeds and plans are/have been in line with God’s Word, and according to His will.
C. To turn again to God obviously means that at one point of time we have turned away from him. So, we would need to turn back to Him.
(What does the Bible mean by ‘ways’?
Ways in biblical parlance means deeds, actions, or manner of living.
These ways can be either physical or spiritual.
Our physical ways when not under the authority of the Holy Spirit, fall prey to the sins of the world.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (I John 2:16)
Our spiritual ways when dimmed by the world take on a form of religiousness, i.e. we use traditions and rituals to satisfy our spiritual hunger and give ourselves and air of self –righteousness in what we do.
“For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:3)
John 14:6 says, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”) )
In the course of our lives as Christians, even those who have been born again, we start out with such gusto and enthusiasm. After a while this enthusiasm dims as we are caught up in life’s hullaballoo. It is when we shift our focus from our Lord to the things of the world, and give worldly attractions or our own self weaknesses and indulgences priority over our God, that we lose sight of Him.
It is then that we feel ourselves drawing away from Him, and are so negligent of our walk with Him, cocooned in the comfort of our own worlds that we do not even make an effort to lessen the distance, to bridge the gap, to stop ourselves from becoming totally shut off from His presence.
At this point we have begun to trust and depend less on His ever wise counsel, and choose instead to follow our own, albeit we may sometime go down the wrong road. Still, to admit that we are weak and in need of strength, or are fearful and in need of courage, or are lost and in need of direction, is out of the question.
So we make our own plans, frame our own ambitions, take our own decisions, and choose our own paths, God’s will or not. We are now the masters of our own destinies, the captains of our own ships.
We have forgotten to search and try our ways before the Lord, forgotten to go to Him for guidance and help. We have adopted an ‘I can do fine by myself’ attitude. And it’s working out great for us so far…
We have turned away from God. We do not recognize His worth as a counsellor, a confidant, a guide. The first love that we had for Him has died down. Oh yes, we still carry it deep down in the bottom recesses of our hearts, but that love is no more violently passionate. It has ebbed to an irregular memory.
So to turn again warrants a 180 degree head tilt. We have to look back, once again, to the source of our original courage, strength, and confidence. We have to re-love, re-depend, re-ask for all that has gone missing. It is only when the hard times come that some of us turn back.
Once we turn back to God in repentance and with a true confession, the next step is easy:
D. Lifting up our hearts with our hands to God means, we have come back, we have acknowledged our wrongs, we have reconciled with our Maker, He has forgiven us, and we can now give Him back the love that He expects of us without the shadows of guilt.
Notice the wording in the above verse of scripture: “Lift up our hearts with our hands to God”. Not just lift up our hearts, but lift up our hearts with our hands, OR Lift up our hearts along with our hands to God. This means we have to give our lives to God voluntarily, whole heartedly, with all our being, by ourselves. Once offer our hearts to God, our hearts stay hidden in Him, but our hands will still be outstretched overhead towards Him as a loving statement of our unending dependence on Him as our Heavenly Father.
Pastor Shadrach K. Joseph