by Ryan Wheeler
How does that word feel to you?
If we are to be honest, many would say it comes with a cringe.
But the cringe comes from our flesh not our spirit and recognizing that fact can be the first step to truly repenting.
In Psalm 119:25-32 we find a pattern for repentance. In it we see a progression from pain to refreshment. A journey of the soul.
So here are 8 stages of true repentance for your consideration. I offer them with the hope that you will join me in making 2016 a year when we all pursue real repentance when necessary.
Psalm 119:25-32 (ESV)
25 My soul clings to the dust;
give me life according to your word!
26 When I told of my ways, you answered me;
teach me your statutes!
27 Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
28 My soul melts away for sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word!
29 Put false ways far from me
and graciously teach me your law!
30 I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
I set your rules before me.
31 I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
let me not be put to shame!
32 I will run in the way of your commandments
when you enlarge my heart!
Stage One: Accurate Diagnosis vs. 25
The Psalmist admits that his soul clings to the dust. This is the natural inclination of every human being: to cling to the dust of this world and the false promises of sin. Admitting this is your condition is the place to start.
Stage Two: Honest Confession vs. 26
Tell God of your ways. He already knows how you have sinned, but speaking it to Him begins to break the power of it in your life. God answers this type of confession!
Stage Three: Sincere Evaluation vs. 27
Go to the Word of God and ask for understanding into how far you have fallen short from His loving will for your life. The mirror of the Word always exposes the true nature of our sin. James 1:22-25
Stage Four: Deep Mourning vs. 28
Once you have gotten honest with God and understood your sin in the light of His Word, an emotional response is appropriate. Sin is heartbreaking to our Father and so it should be to us. He atoned for your sin at great personal cost and pain by sacrificing His only Son. At this point let emotion flow. Tears of repentance are very beautiful to God and very healing to your soul.
Stage Five: Righteous Rejection vs. 29
This is the pivot point of the process. An attitude change occurs inside you as you ask God to "put false ways far from me." This is a crucial point in the progression of your soul as you decide you are tired of "clinging to the dust."
Stage Six: Willful Decision vs. 30
Repentance always involves a "turning." This turning begins with righteous rejection of your old sinful ways, but is not complete until you turn towards the ways of God. Your heart should be ready to declare at this point, "I have chosen the way of faithfulness!"
Stage Seven: New Condition vs. 31
At the first stage your soul was clinging to the worthless things of sin- the dust. But now your soul has undergone a miraculous change. It clings to something different now- the testimonies of God! Now your soul longs to know the heart of God and walk closely hand in hand with Him. Fellowship restored.
Stage Eight: Forward Progression vs. 32
Your soul is restored and refreshed and you have officially adopted a new direction in life. From this point on, don't get too wrapped up in perfection- that is exhausting and burdensome. Think more of progression. Resolve in your heart to progress ever closer to God. "I will run in the way of your commandments!"
The word "repentance" may not sound pleasant to you, but there is hardly a more refreshing discipline in the Christian experience. For the soul to move from a painful, stagnant and dirty condition to a joyful, vibrant and clean condition is a totally supernatural and amazing journey. A godly man's or woman's life is not marked by never messing up. It is marked by repentance.. What kind of person will you be in 2016?
Milton Hubbard has served as Pastor of Living Word Assembly since 1977
Ryan Wheeler serves as Associate Pastor at Living Word Assembly.