Posts Tagged ‘2 Corinthians 7:9-11’

Regrets, Repentance, and Redemption

October 9th, 2013

“Jesus . . became poor so that you through His poverty might become [enriched].” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NIV.

Redemption is the lavish application of God’s grace to remove every cause for regret.

My thoughts and comments today are about “regrets, repentance, and redemption.”

Everyone has regrets. Everyone makes mistakes. What happens after you make a mistake or poor choice is what matters most. People regret things wrongly committed – harsh words, angry reactions, bad behavior, impatience – which they wish they had restrained. Or regret can result from good things omitted. The Bible cautions, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. God views sins of omission and sins of commission alike.

Your goal should be to have a sanctified and trained conscience that preempts your natural inclination to do wrong, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Paul offered a worthy goal, “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.” Acts 24:16 NIV. Regret is a belated recognition of wrongdoing.

There was a time when I assumed righteousness could be measured by how long I could go without sinning. Trust me; that is not very effective. Along the way, I have come to understand that a better measurement of a Godly heart is the brevity of time between recognition of wrong and repentance for it. Regret is ineffective; only repentance can release redemption. Any delay or neglect of repentance produces the pain of regret without promise of release.

The prodigal son experienced devastating regret. Read Luke 15:11-24 NKJV. Eventually, he felt humiliated by his foolishness before and his degrading existence now. Nothing would have changed had he not “come to himself” and determined to return home to his father. Vs. 17-20. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:9 NIV. Regret alone is insufficient, but true repentance results in redemption. “Just see what this Godly sorrow produced in you . . you showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.” Vs. 11 NLT.

Regret preoccupies you with paralyzing emotions of remorse; repentance releases you from regret and remorse. “You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you [enriched].” 2 Corinthians 8:9 NLT. Obviously, Paul’s contrasting words, “rich and poor,” reference our spiritual poverty contrasted with the abounding riches of God’s grace. “I thank my God always concerning the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him . .” 1 Corinthians 1:4-6 NKJV. In Christ, regret is replaced by rejoicing.

Redemption is the lavish application of God’s grace, removing every cause for regret, whatever its source. See Ephesians 1:3-9 NKJV. On His cross, the Savior “emptied Himself,” (Philippians 2:5-9 NAS) so that you and I can be enriched in the fullness of grace and redemption His eternal sacrifice affords. Whatever your regrets, bring them to Jesus and rest secure in His amazing grace.

My prayer for you today is that you live free of regret, rejoicing in God’s plenteous grace.

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January 21st, 2013

Every attempt to turn away from sin is marginal and temporary without a Savior.

“Remember the height from which you have fallen.” Revelation 2:5 NIV.

Memory is a good thing. Memories hold special times and people in your heart when they are otherwise gone from you. But some people seem to forget things they should remember while others remember things they should forget. The memory of a poor performance can challenge you to strive harder and do better.  Memories of noteworthy accomplishments – your own and others’ – can inspire the personal discipline and further sacrifice necessary for yet greater achievement. Memory is a powerful motivator.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministries with a simple, transcending message, “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” See Matthew 3:2/4:17 NLT. You cannot do the latter without sincerely doing the first. The Kingdom is near, and your only way into its fullness is heart-felt repentance – doing an about face. Any attempt to turn away from sin is of marginal and temporary effect unless you turn to the Savior with a whole heart. The Spirit’s clarion call to yours and my soul is the same, “Repent!” Repentance is the path to spiritual reality. In the Old Testament, God’s stern and frequent denunciation of “high places” where Israel bowed their knees to perverse gods was because Israel’s worship – and yours and mine – was to be given to Almighty God alone. Small things begin a subtle drift that lures you from that singular place where God alone is first and foremost in one’s heart.

In political exile on Patmos, John wrote of such times when spiritual vitality wanes, unnoticeably at first. Commending the church in Ephesus for their, “hard work and patient perseverance, intolerance of wicked men,” and carefulness for spiritual integrity, John then issues a challenge. “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:1-7 NIV. John calls you to remember the prominence and priority of your pure devotion and fervent spiritual practices – when your heart was tender toward God, worship was pure and exuberant, the Word of God warmed your heart, love for one another was real, and Jesus was truly Lord. The memory of those times births a heart for repentance to reclaim the passion of your “first love” from which you may have drifted.

David knew the joy of spiritual passion, “[God] makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights.” 2 Samuel 22:34/Psalm 18:33 NIV. God affirmed David as “a man after My own heart.” See Acts 13:22-23 NKJV. But there came a day when David stumbled badly in his walk with God. When he remembered, “the height from which [he] had fallen,” with bitter tears he repented. Read Psalm 32. Any distance from God was unthinkable for him.

God’s call remains the same: “Remember the height from which you have fallen!” Sin, of lesser or greater degree, causes your fall. Redeemed remembrance clarifies where you were in God and where your heart still longs to be. Is there a time when you walked with God in greater intimacy and fullness than you know now? “Remember [that] height,” of grace. Remembering makes you want to return there; repentance will bring you there.

The powerful act of repentance encompasses more than chagrin or regret for wrongs done. It is God’s path to reclaim where you can and should be in Christ. Paul explained the process, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret.” Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NIV. Godly sorrow leads you upward to the Savior, not downward to your sin. See Romans 8:1-6 NIV. I leave you to further explore this liberating, Biblical truth, as I intend to do.

My prayer for you today is that you will treasure the joy of the sacred place in God’s grace.

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A Soul Set Free

August 22nd, 2012

“Praise the Lord . . Who forgives all your sins.” Psalm 103:3 NIV

Forgiveness heals your history; grace empowers your destiny.

My thoughts and comments today are about “a soul set free.”

Unforgiven sin is a heavy burden on one’s soul, even for the strongest of men. King David learned that lesson the hard way, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.” Read Psalm 32:3-4 NLT. Clearly, there is not only a spiritual dimension to sin; there are physical, emotional, psychological, and relational consequences to sin as well. Sin produces guilt; guilt breeds shame; shame causes regret. It is overly simplistic, but true, to say that none of those are profitable or desirable.

It is futile to hide sin from God, for He sees and knows all. It is foolish to excuse sin or blame anyone else but yourself and self-destructive to hold onto your sin when God waits to forgive readily. The burden of sin can only be relieved by forgiveness. Forgiveness heals your history; grace empowers your destiny. “Praise the Lord, O my soul . . and forget not all His benefits – Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, and crowns you with love and compassion.” Psalm 103:1-5 NIV.

Listen to David’s joy when rid of the burden of his horrible sins, “Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty . . finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide them. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.’ And You forgave me! All my guilt is gone.” Psalm 32:2/5 NLT. I saw a bumper sticker that correctly read, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” There is an unspeakable joy in a soul set free. Read Psalm 124:7-8 NAS.

Forgiveness was made available to you at the Cross when Jesus, the sinless Savior, died for the sins of the world. See John 3:16-21 NKJV. Forgiveness does not erase what you’ve done; it does transform who you are and can change who you become. The only reason sin remains unforgiven in your life is that you allow it to remain unrepented and unconfessed. My dear friend, Campbell, often said, “The only way that sin leaves your life is through your mouth, in confession and repentance to God.” I am sure he was right. The Bible promises, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.” Read 1 John 1:8-10 NKJV.

Be clear about confession. Let’s start with what it is not. Confession is not telling God about your sin; he knew of your sin before you were willing to recognize it as such. Neither is it merely saying to God you are sorry; of course, you’re sorry. God gave you a conscience, an inner sense of right and wrong that troubles your soul when ignored. You are sorry because sin is troublesome to the human spirit. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 NKJV. Confession is not promising God you will do better, although you had best intend to do just that. Confession literally means, “to say along with.” You confess sin when you say the same thing about your sin that God says – that your sin is against His moral and righteous Law, your sin separates you from His fellowship and purpose, and your sin is destructive now and eternally. Read Psalm 51:1-12 NIV.

My prayer for you today is for you to know the joy of a sinless soul and liberated spirit.

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