Repentance-the Path to Transformation
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." James 4:7-8
In chapter three, we discovered that our words and wisdom are powerful forces for good or evil. For those whose faith in Christ is active and living, this process of letting what comes from our mouth test us can in the end bring great spiritual abundance. The trials and temptations of many of those James writes to reveal that they are not living from the resources a new life of faith in Christ will produce. Conflict, unholy lusts, and coveting what's not theirs all combine to create an environment of "wars and fights" (v. 1-2).
While claiming to have faith in Christ, we discover that in their hearts they're given to friendship with a fallen world. Their hearts are so disloyal to the One they say they believe in that God sees them as spiritual adulterers. The way they live has made them enemies of God, not His friends. As a result God has withheld His response to their prayers. Their prayers, like their lives, were not rooted in God. Their prayers were rooted in hearts that were under the corrupting, distorted influence of a fallen world (v. 3-5).
These "believers" are failing miserably. The temptations and trials they are going through are exposing the poison within. The fruit revealed its source. James knows that if things don't change, these new believers and their churches will be destroyed. If their fruit is going to change, their hearts must change. For the heart to change, simple but radical measures of repentance must be taken.
These measures should be a consistent part of every believer's life if we are to maintain fruit that is worthy of the One we say we love and believe in. This process of repentance begins with a renewed submission to God. It is the lack of that submission to God that enables us to live in pride and rebellion to God. When we see His glorious perfection, we are naturally in awe of Him. We want to adore Him. It's only those who have a low view of God that have no problem arrogantly disobeying Him. Such "believers" do not know the real Christ personally and experientially.
Secondly, drawing near to God, seeing Him for who He really is also propels us on a path to renewed spiritual reality. This also causes to be drawn to Him more and more with a growing love. Just as the beauty of nature draws us to it, so the beauty and glory of God naturally draws us to Him. Those who have drifted far from Him have done so because they have turned their backs to Him. They no longer see the glory and beauty that He is.
The third thing we must do to enter a path of renewed spiritual reality is to ask God to cleanse both our hands and our hearts. Our hands need cleansing so they are no longer instruments of sin, and our hearts cleansing so they no longer seek to serve two gods.
The process of repentance opens the floodgates of grace. God will draw us near to embrace us and, at the same time, the devil will flee from us. The failures and poisonous fruit that are revealed in our trials and temptations are our warning signs that something is terribly wrong. But by God's grace, we are only one step away from having fresh living water again break forth from within. It begins with repentance.
Make repentance a part of your consistent spiritual maintenance program, and you will find yourself going from faith to faith, and glory to glory. By doing so, you will find yourself growing in and through the trials and temptations that are waiting for us all during our sojourn in this fallen world.
-Calvary Church Boise
Created almost 2 years ago