Archive for August, 2008


The soul who sins shall die

If you want to learn more about repentance, study Ezekiel 18.  You will find Ezekiel 18 (& 19) in our daily Bible reading this weekend.

The Lord makes a New Testament statement twice in the middle of this Old Testament chapter of prophecy.  He says it in verse 4 and then again in verse 20:

The soul who sins shall die.

Each person is responsible for their sin.  If a person sins, the consequence is death. The father is responsible for his sin, while the son is held accountable for his sin.  You sin, you die.  That is why every human faces death.

In that same chapter the Lord explains what repentance looks like and describes the result of repentance.
First, God teaches that if a wicked person repents he will be forgiven:

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22 None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.

Ezekiel 18:21-22

Next, the God says that He does not take pleasure in the death of the unrepentant:

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?

Ezekiel 18:23

However, if the Lord is going to forgive us when we repent, He teaches that He must also hold us accountable when we sin:

But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

Ezekiel 18:24

Yet some will accuse God of being unjust.  In his response to their complaint God explains His justice:

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 26 When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. 27 Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. 28 Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29 Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

Ezekiel 18:25-29

Finally, God calls Israel to repent:

30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.   31 Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”

Ezekiel 18:30-32

The message of the Bible is straightforward: repent and turn from all your transgressions, let iniquity be your ruin.


Repentance is a gift from God

Man does not repent on his own accord.  God leads man to repentance.  Thus, repentance is a gift from God.

If you are a born-again follower of Jesus Christ, you know the gift of repentance.  There was a time in your life when God led you to repentance.  “When you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:13)” God convicted you of your sin and led you to repent before Him.  Thereafter, the continuing nature of repentance in your heart is the result of God’s convicting power.

Many of you know the account of David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba as recorded in 2 Samuel 11.  David commits adultery and goes to great lengths to cover his sin, through deception and murder.  As a result of David’s actions, God sends Nathan to confront the king:

1 And the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.”

2 Samuel 12:5-6

David responds:

5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”

2 Samuel 12:5-6

Nathan rebukes:

7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. 9  Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ 11 Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.'”

2 Samuel 12:7-12

David repents:

13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”

2 Samuel 12:13a

Nathan comforts:

And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house.

2 Samuel 12:13b-14

It is obvious God gave birth to repentance in David’s heart.  David’s contrition was not the result of his own sorrow.  His heart was not sorrowful; his heart was deceived.  David’s contrition was the result of God’s work through the rebuke of his friend Nathan.

David’s recollection of these events and the brokenness that ensued is recorded for us in Psalms 32 & 51.

Both Psalms reveal the gift of repentance.

In Psalm 32:3-5, David writes:

3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

Please do not miss the work of God in verse 4—For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.  The oppression David was feeling was the result of God’s heavy hand of conviction.

Again, we receive more knowledge from Psalm 51:16-17:

16 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
How do we develop a broken spirit, a contrite heart?  A broken spirit and a contrite heart are the work of God.

Pay close attention to today’s lesson.  Repentance is a gift from God.  Repentance is from God.  Yes, it is painful.  Yes, repentance makes us vulnerable.  Yet repentance should be embraced because repentance is God’s act of grace in our lives.

  • If you are brokenhearted over your sin, rejoice in the Lord.  Your broken heart is a gift from God.
  • If you are compelled to humble yourself before God because you recognize your great inadequacy, shout for joy.  Your humility is a gift from God.
  • If you are troubled by a relationship that you have broken, fix it and then celebrate.  Your trouble is a gift from God.
  • If you are weary of your sinfulness and pledging to turn from your evil ways, delight in the Lord.  Your weariness is a gift from God.

Repentance is a gift from God.


I need to repent of my repentance

There are two pages in my copy of The Valley of Vision are that are becoming tattered and worn.  The pages that list the prayer of Continual Repentance are those pages.

Take a moment to read through this prayer of repentance:

“O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness
to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so many impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many
aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washes;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth
the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.”

If you are a weekly reader of this blog, you have seen this prayer before.  It is one of my “go to” prayers in The Valley of Vision.

There is much I can write about this prayer.  The one thing line that consumes my attention more than any other is the first line of the second paragraph:


Ouch!  For anyone who has wrestled with repentance, who has struggled with the vulnerability true biblical repentance produces, you know what the author is stating.  There are times our repentance can be contrived.  There are times when our repentance is not sincere.  Repenting of our repentance may just be the starting point to true repentance.

Let’s not forget what the Bible says about the people of Nineveh.  The king of Assyria issued this decree: “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.  Who knows?  God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”  That is true repentance.

Perhaps before we spend any more time discussing repentance, it would benefit us to repent of our repentance.

Whose idea was this, anyway?


True repentance

I want to discuss true repentance in our daily blog over the next few days.  Let’s get the discussion started with the definition of repentance I used in my message last Sunday.  One of Scotland’s great nineteenth century evangelical preachers, Reverend Hugh Martin (1822-1885) wrote the following:

The principle is this: true repentance is a change of mind, of heart, of disposition: it is the making of a new heart and of a right spirit. It originates in regeneration; in our being born again; in our obtaining a new nature and becoming new creatures in Christ by the Spirit. And it flows forth, in unmistakable manifestations, in a new course of conduct; in a reformed life; a life aiming at new ends, conducted under a new rule, and aspiring to attain to a new standard. Repentance, springing from a true fear of God and a true sight of sin, manifests itself in a dutiful obedience to God’s law and a jealous abstinence from sin. True and saving repentance is not a mere shaking off the evil fruit from the tree, and tying on fruit of a better appearance. it is the changing of the trees very nature; and good fruit is then naturally brought forth, and not artificially appended.

Martin’s explanation is clear—true repentance is a matter of a changed heart.

We resume deeper study tomorrow.


The power of the Word of God

Sunday morning we will wrestle with Jonah, chapter three.  One of the lessons we will learn focuses on how God changes people through the proclamation of His Word.  While thinking about the power of God’s Word today in my study, I was reminded of these imperatives from Romans 12:9-12:

Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be conceited.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Whew, now that will preach!


Today is a good day

Today is a good day.  Today my son, Taylor, returns from a five-week mission venture in Europe.

Never have I missed that child so much.  It is the longest his mother and I have ever gone without seeing him in person, touching him, kissing him, and being involved in his life.  His mother, sister, and grandparents, along with many friends and I, plan to greet him at the airport tonight.  He wants to eat supper at Cracker Barrel as soon as we start heading home.  He says he needs some sweet tea.

Vonda and I learned a little bit more about trusting God while Taylor was away.  I guess I now have some kind of inclination toward what missionary parents feel like.  Each morning during my devotions I would place Taylor in God’s hands.  Each evening, as I retired from my day, I would express gratitude for God guarding Taylor’s life another day.

We will have about 24 hours with our son, and then it is off to Samford.  He moves into his dorm Friday morning and starts classes the following Monday.  I figure that is about the time jet lag will kick in.  Boy, won’t that be fun!

When Taylor left five weeks ago, we stood at the airport lobby bawling our eyes out.  As he walked through the security check the preacher in me pictured him walking through a doorway of new opportunities.  I told Vonda the moment he stepped through the metal detector, God opened a vista of opportunity that will forever change his life.

I cannot wait to hear how God provided for my son.  I cannot wait to see what God did in his life.  I know Taylor will never be the same.  And, I know Vonda and I will never be the same.

Thus, today is a good day!


Speaking of trust

We spent last week discussing trust.  I thought I would inspire us today with this video sent to me by a CrossPointer.  Although Clay Dyer never mentions faith in the Lord Jesus, his words and actions sure sound like a man of faith.  The video lasts 9:21.  It is worth your time watching every minute, even to the last second.

After watching the video ask yourself this one question: is what I am fretting today worth fretting?