Real Repentance 38

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 Thy laws, I beseech thee. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

The person that has had a real repentance worked in his or her own heart will not only want to have the world, pride, and self taken out of the heart, but will also want the laws of God written on the heart. While it is possible for a worldly person to want to be less worldly though for worldly ends, that is not the same things as wanting to be delivered from worldly ways and views because one loves God. It is possible for a person to want to have less pride, yet can desire that from a proud heart. A proud person does not want to be seen or known or even thought of as proud, yet that is not the same thing as longing to be rid of pride which is an idol because a person loves God. It is possible for a person to want some of self to be taken out of the heart out of love for self, and it is possible that a selfish person will want to appear selfless in all the religious acts that s/he does. Yet it is not possible for a person to pray and seek the Lord to cast out self out apart from a true love for God.

When we come to examine our own hearts, we must ask ourselves if we really want the laws of God written on our hearts. If we truly want the love of God written in our hearts, then we must really want the world, pride, and self to be gone. Real repentance is being turned from the world, pride, and self and being turned to seeking the Lord. Real repentance is to be turned from seeking the world, the things of pride, and the things of self to seeking the things of God. Real repentance is to be turned from the love of the heart that is expressed in seeking the world, pride, and self and to seeking the Lord out of real and true love in the heart.

What we desire if and when we desire for the law to be written on our hearts is really the perfect expression of the life and law of God (Christ) to take our hearts and conform them to Himself and to have His life in us expressed. The law of God, then, is not to be kept just when it is convenient and ignored when it is easier, but the love of God and our neighbor (the heart of the law) is to be what controls our heart and is in fact our life. It is not just something that is part of our life, but it is to be our life. Christ Himself is to be our life and we are told that it is His love that constrains us. A real repentance, then, is when the work of God in our soul takes us from being controlled by the world, pride, and self to where the life of Christ in us is in control.

We must ask ourselves if we really want the love of God and our neighbor written in our hearts. We must ask for the light of the Spirit to open our eyes and our hearts to know if this is truly happening. It is so easy to be caught up in the trappings of religion, even the kinds with orthodox doctrine and conservative morality, and yet not have the life of Christ in our soul. It is easy to be caught up with the Ten Commandments and yet miss the very heart of them because Christ is not our life. It is so easy to be caught up with what people call “fellowship” and become ensnared with moral religion, active driven religion, and perhaps doctrinally driven religion. Christianity, however, is to be driven by Christ Himself Who writes the laws of God on our hearts by living in our hearts and taking control in our hearts. Our morality must come from love for Christ. Our activity must be from love for Christ. Our doctrines must be developed and loved because they express Christ rather than just a love for logical consistency.

What we see, and I hope with great clarity, is that real repentance is all about the work of Christ and His work that is always done by free-grace and free-grace alone. The world, pride, and self can only be taken from our hearts that love them so much by a greater power and a greater love. Our hearts can only be overcome rather than our works overcoming those things. God can only operate through Christ and because of free-grace rather than anything we can do to move Him. Yes, we must have broken hearts, but He must break our hearts from self and that does not gain merit on our behalf at all. Yes, we must seek Him, but He must work in us the desire to seek Him and so that earns us nothing either. We are either driven by self or by Christ. If we have been delivered from self and now have Christ as our life, it is by free-grace and that alone. We boast in Christ alone and nothing of self.

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