Take a moment to read the following testimony*, then see what God may be saying to you about repentance.
After twenty-three years of being active in church life, I was burned out. I was tired of trying to live the Christian life, and in my heart I knew I was only giving lip service to the lordship of Christ. My heart had grown cold and calloused. I sought escape through sleep (having been addicted to over-the-counter sleeping pills for years), hobbies, novels, television—anything to fill the void and to avoid facing the barrenness of my life.
Knowing that I was miserable and depressed, my husband tried to help. But I was convinced that he didn’t care (Satan helped in perpetuating that lie!). I blamed him for my misery and the shallowness of my life. I thought that if he were different, then I would be different and our marriage and ministry would be different. I started living in a dream world, imagining what it would be like to be out of my marriage. I seriously entertained thoughts of divorce.
Finally, I became so desperate that I just cried out for God to do a work in my life. And He heard! He answered my cries by showing me the truth about my heart and my life. He revealed my pride, which made me think that I deserved someone better. He showed me that my anger and bitterness toward my husband was really saying, “God, You made a mistake in the person You gave me for a husband.”
As God’s Spirit worked in my heart, I slowly agreed with Him about my sins of pride and bitterness. God enabled me to stop blaming my husband and others for my condition. I literally came to life again. I began to turn away from the things I depended on instead of God. I laid my sleeping pills “on the altar,” and God graciously delivered me from that bondage I had experienced for years. He delivered me from years of resentment toward my husband and gave me a new love for him. God truly revived my heart!
Have you noticed that we often blame our circumstances or other people for our actions and our spiritual condition? Observe how David in Psalm 51:1-4 takes full responsibility for his sin:
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
The first step in repentance is being honest with God about the ways we have offended His holiness and fallen short of His standards. Once we agree with God about our sin, we are able to turn from our own ways and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, return to walking with Him.
Take some time right now to ask God if there is any sin that needs to be repented of in your own life. Be honest with Him about what He shows you, remembering that He already knows the sin in your heart and loves you in spite of it. He desperately wants you to be free!
Once you have dealt with the sin in your own heart, ask God to graciously expose the sins that are lurking within the lives of your family and church members. Ask Him to take them through the process of repentance in their own lives.
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*Testimony adapted from “Rescued from Pretense,” Spirit of Revival, vol. 19, no. 1, July 1989, p. 22, published by Life Action Ministries.