Real Repentance 30

Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.

God never makes any man what he should be, without first making him know what he is. O God, take the veil from my heart; take the world, take pride, take self out of my heart, and write there all they laws, I beseech thee. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

Real repentance is never in the power of an unregenerate man to do, though it should also be said that real repentance is never in the power of a regenerate man to do either. The turning of the soul from self to God in a spiritual way and out of love for God can only come from God. It is in the hands of King Jesus to open eyes to see the awful power and nature of sin, but it is never in the power of the sinner to open his own eyes. While men must know who they are in order to really repent, that knowing who they are is not in their capabilities either. Man is held fast in the power and blindness of pride and self until King Jesus strikes the bondage of those sins away. As Jesus taught us in John 15, apart from Him we can do nothing (spiritual or good). Apart from Christ we will never know who we really are and as such we will never have the veil taken away from our hearts.

For the unregenerate and regenerate alike, they must seek the Lord to know who they really are. It may sound repetitive or even trite, but we will never know who we are until we stop trying to discover ourselves in our own power. Man can see certain things about sin in his own strength, but he will never see sin as sin while striving in his own strength. Logic is a useful tool in the hands of one who is humbly seeking the truth, but logic cannot discover the depths of sin and indeed has no ability to do so. It is only when a humble soul is given light that sin and darkness are seen, but logic and human reason cannot see much while in the darkness.

It is very rare in our day to find a person that truly wants to know who s/he is. It is God alone who can work a true desire for this in the heart. A person may desire to know something of self our of spiritual pride or wanting to convince self that it really wants to know self, but a true desire to know the depths of our own hearts is a rare thing. We may want to know something of the heart, but we don’t want to know the depths of our sin. The proud human heart always wants to retain some control and some pride in its own righteousness, even in denying that it has any righteousness. The heart is constantly deceiving itself regarding what it is, what is known about it, and what it desires to really know. But it is something each heart should ask itself as it prays rather than just asking the question in a casual manner. Do I really want to know my own heart? Really?

It is to the degree that we know our own hearts that we have a real repentance. We can only grow in holiness and sanctification if we really repent of more and more sin. Just going on in the Christian life (real or deceived about it) is not possible as Christ will show His people their hearts because He loves them and wants them to be free of the bondage of sin more and more. As Head of the Church, He wants His body to be free of the things that hinders Her and keeps Her from being an instrument of glory in the world.

We must be brutal with our own hearts and ask God to make us love Him enough to be brutal with our own hearts. God loves His Son, but He hated sin enough that He sent His Beloved Son to the cross. If we love God, then we will have some hatred of sin in our hearts and we should be on the side of God rather than on the side of pride and self. It is necessary for us to grow enough to begin to ask God to take the veil away from our hearts. While some may turn this into an exercise of pride and self, it should become a way of seeking God to take away our pride and self. But oh the battle that self will throw up as the Lord begins to show us our pride and self. Oh how hard it is to see through the things that self will throw up in the defense of self, but we must persevere.

The heart is more deceitful than we can imagine, so we need light to see the things it defends itself with. As we persevere in these things, the Lord will begin to strip us to the very precipice of our comfort and then go beyond that and then way beyond that. It is not a short process, but one that lasts our entire lives. But how else will we grow in grace? How else will we be stripped of our pride and our self-sufficiency so that we look to Him for humility and then to fill us with free-grace after He gives us humility? We are utterly dependent upon Him for all spiritual things, not just a few. May He show us these things as we seek Him to take the veil from our hearts.

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