Archive for the ‘Real Repentance’ Category

Real Repentance 39

August 11, 2015

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.

It is a hard thing, and a sore conflict, to renounce all sin, as sin, fully, finally, irrevocably; and probably many of those who think they do, never tried it, and are hidden from themselves. (Thomas Adam, Private Thoughts on Religion)

Real repentance is not a simple thing and far from easy. It is so hard that it requires the very denial of self and that is impossible for self to do, so real repentance is impossible for the self to do. Real repentance, then, has to come from a greater power than the power of self and free-will. There can be no real doubt for those who have dealt with sin seriously and spiritually that the only way to repent in truth is by the blood of Christ and free-grace. Real repentance is not as simply as an act of the will or saying a prayer or making a decision, real repentance is the work of God in the human soul. Oh, someone might say, if God does it then it is easy. No, that is far from the truth of the matter. God works real repentance in the hearts of His people by trials that stretch them beyond their strength and even sore trials that break them from any hope in themselves and at times it feels like there is no hope at all. Yet Christ is the Great Physician and He never wounds those He loves beyond what is needed and He is always standing there to apply the balm of Gilead to heal and restore.

Modern versions of Christianity sure appear to have lost the concept that God is truly sovereign over all things and that as sovereign He uses sore trials to bring His people to look to free-grace rather than anything found in them. Modern versions of Christianity lean upon secular models of psychology and they try to heal the hurt of the people through superficial means rather than recognizing that God may be at work in the souls of people. There is nothing that will cure a pain that God has brought but Christ Himself, though with all the current models and versions of things around people do try. We have forgotten that sin brings misery and so a person that is in misery may be there because of the misery sin brings and/or the hand of God who is working in or on that person to break them from the world, self, and pride.

It is so easy for ministers and counselors to give people easy methods to feel better, but that is not dealing with the issues. Not only is it a hard thing and a sore conflict to renounce sin in our day, it is a hard thing and a sore conflict to get ministers and counselors to deal with people in a way where sin is seen as a hard thing. These kind people will rush in to make people feel better are like those who put bandages on gaping wounds in battle and think that they have treated the wound. Only Christ can truly heal a soul and Christ only heals sinners who want to deal with their sins, though indeed the desire to deal with our sins can only come from Him as well. Christ did not come to help the strong, He came to help those who are too weak to help themselves. Christ did not come to help the wise (in their own eyes), but instead He came to help those who are fools in their own sight and need Christ alone.

The soul that desires to renounce all sin will soon realize that there are degrees of desire depending on the sin. We may want to renounce all sin that causes me trouble or that I don’t like that much anyway, but how much do we desire to renounce our pet sins and the things we love? It is beyond our strength to renounce and leave the sins we love. One reason it is so hard to renounce and leave the sins we love is because we don’t even see those things as sin. We love them and so we have made excuses for them and we have justified them in our own eyes. We are blinded to so much of our sin because we deny that it is sin. But we must know that real repentance is to repent of all known sin and then start on a path of repenting from more sin as it becomes known. If we refuse to repent of sin as it becomes known, then we are idolaters and love our sin more than Christ. We may love our legal righteousness or moral things that we practice and not see it as opposed to free-grace, but it can be. We may love our orthodoxy and all sorts of good things and yet they can be our pet or darling sins because we do them because we get honor from them rather than love for God. We may love the ministry because of what we get out of it rather than to stand for God and speak for Him out of love for Him. We must learn to seek a knowledge of our hearts and to renounce sin as sin or we will never learn what real repentance is and as such what free-grace really is.

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Real Repentance 38

August 9, 2015

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.

Real Repentance 37

August 8, 2015

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)

It may seem odd to some that the topic of free-grace keeps coming up in the context of real repentance, but the point is that there is no real repentance apart from free-grace. The repentance that man can work in his own power is not a real repentance from the world, pride, and self. That is a type of repentance apart from grace and that leaves man still in his sin though he might have moved from obvious sin to religious sin. After a person becomes a believer, though some may teach that happens by grace, they make it appear that men are then left with grace to help them and that they can use the means of grace to get the help they need. In other words, it seems that men are left to themselves and their own strength to obtain grace and then to apply grace in repenting. This is not true repentance at any point. Repentance is either by free-grace or it is not real repentance at all.

King Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing (spiritual or good). The only true spiritual fruit must come from Him first. This should teach us that real repentance can only come from Him and that any repentance in name that does not come from Him is not real repentance. Apart from Christ Himself taking the veil from our hearts, we will not know what we need to repent of. Apart from Christ taking the world, pride, and self out of our heart, they will not be taken out. All of the efforts of self to get self out will do nothing but increase our level of deception. Our pride, which hides itself from us and hides our sin from us, may make a big noise about how we have died to pride and yet it is only hiding itself from us and deceiving us about the true nature of pride.

What we must see is that we must seek the Lord for a real repentance of these things by prayer, study, and meditation. A real repentance must come from Him and yet we must seek Him for it. Until we are seeking Him for it knowing that we don’t deserve to be granted repentance from these things, we will be seeking a self-wrought repentance in some way. We will think that by seeking it we can obtain it or we will think we can merit Him giving it to us. Oh no, that thought or any thought like it must be banned from our hearts. Real repentance comes to the seeking soul by free-grace and nothing else. While we are to seek it, our seeking does not merit a thing and our seeking does not put God under an obligation of any kind. What seeking does, however, is to teach our hearts that we are utterly insufficient and totally unable to repent of ourselves. When our hearts are taught that we are utterly insufficient and totally unable to repent, that is the Lord teaching us in our inner man.

This is so important. A repentance that is by free-grace alone is a repentance that is taught to us by grace as well. The soul that seeks repentance must know that it can never work repentance up and it can never assist itself in repentance, but instead in seeking repentance the soul is seeking the Lord to teach it how utterly insufficient it is to do one thing of its own. This is the broken and contrite heart that the Bible speaks of. This is the heart that the Lord has broken so that it knows that it has to be carried to a place to even beg (as Lazarus). We don’t have the ability to beg in a correct way and we don’t have the ability to seek at all (in reality) apart from grace working these things in our hearts.

What real repentance and real faith teaches us is the need for real grace which is free-grace and sovereign grace. Repentance is utterly necessary, yet we cannot do it. Does this diminish the need? No, but what this does is teach us to seek it from Him who will only give it by free-grace. Our seeking for true repentance does not change God, but He uses our seeking to change us and teach us in the inner man. Only King Jesus can take one that is seeking Him for something and make that sinner one that seeks Him for Himself. At some point He will lead His people to seek Him for repentance so that they may love Him more and more rather than earn something or obtain something from Him. The seeking heart has not really repented until it is seeking more grace for the sake of His name. We will never to that perfectly in this life, but we have some of it and long for more. The soul that has tasted free-grace wants nothing to come to it but by free-grace. The soul that has tasted of Christ wants nothing but what comes to it by Christ. The soul that has tasted real repentance longs to have less of the world, less pride, and less self that it may have more of Christ and His free-grace. Self is not just a wicked sin, but it is opposed to free-grace. So we seek and pray for less self that we may behold His glory in the face of Christ in giving free-grace. Real repentance is a privilege of the free-grace of Christ. We should desire it for His sake.

Real Repentance 36

August 7, 2015

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)

True repentance requires or involves taking the love of the world, love of self, and pride out of the heart and replacing those things with the laws of God. These things are circular in nature, which is to say that it takes the love of God to take out those things and then more love of God in the heart will work to take out more of those things. When God shines light into the soul, He reveals to the soul that it is full of the world, pride, and self. The believing soul longs to be delivered from those things and to be filled with the love of God, yet the more love of God that is given to the soul the more of the world, pride, and self are revealed. God loves Himself and shares that love for Himself with His people, yet that love is such that it will always reveal sin and this love moves people to turn from sin more and more. This love comes to sinners by free-grace and it is this free-grace that overcomes sin in the hearts of sinners.

While it sounds harsh to some to pound away at the need for people to repent of the world, pride, and self; this comes in a way that is different than modern religion teaches. True repentance can only happen in the heart where Christ is the life of that soul and where He overcomes sin by free-grace. This does not take away the obligations of human beings, but instead it transfers the obligations to another focus. Instead of it being the obligation of sinners to put away sin by the power of self, it is the obligation of sinners to put sin away by the power of grace. But since sinners cannot bring grace to themselves by what they do, it is their obligation to seek God for grace to put away sin and to truly repent of sin.

We can either pound away at people to repent of the world, pride, and self by the strength of self, or we can plead with people to seek the Lord to give them the grace to repent of those things. What can cause a person to repent of the love of the world except that person be given a greater love? What can cause a person to repent of pride except a greater power than pride and that is the power of Christ and His life of humility in the soul? What can cause a person to repent of self except the life of Christ giving a person love for Himself in the soul? Self can never cast out self because self would always remain there to cast out self. This is a great deception to sinners. They cast out self by the power of self and don’t realize that they have deceived themselves because self is there and is hidden in the dress of religion. This is one reason why the danger of teaching free-will or not teaching against free-will is so dangerous. As long as a person thinks that s/he has the power to repent of self, that person has not understand the insidious power and deception of the self. The self has no power to cast out self, but instead it can only deceive itself with religious actions in thinking that it has done so. In this case the self has really gained power over the soul as it is hidden better and disguised as religious action or even thought to be the power of God.

A real repentance from the world cannot happen from the self who loves the world. That self will repent of forms of the world but only for the appearance of it and only for the praise of men. A real repentance from pride cannot come from pride as pride can only strengthen itself in religious activities and blind itself from itself by a false humility that comes from pride. A real repentance of self cannot happen by the power of self as something apart from self must cast self out or it is just another form or disguise of self casting out self. What this teaches us with great clarity is our need of Christ and His grace in order to truly repent. Repentance cannot happen apart from Christ and apart from free-grace. No sinner can possibly deserve to be delivered from sin, but instead sinners deserve to be turned over to harder hearts and more sin. No sinner can possibly deserve to be granted repentance. What we can plainly see, then, is that we must repent, but that we must seek grace in order to repent. Only the Lord Jesus working in the soul can move it to repent and only Christ can do it by free-grace. There is nothing but free-grace in Christ and by Christ that could possibly deliver souls from the power of sin.

Real Repentance 35

August 6, 2015

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)

The short statement by Adam just above is simply profound. It can be understood from the vantage point of the believer or the unbeliever. From the vantage point of the unbeliever, God will make the man understand and feel his sin by which he will know the depths of his sin to some degree and understand his helplessness and inability before God converts the man be free-grace. From the vantage point of the believer, God shows the man his utter inability in spiritual things apart from Christ and shows man what he is and what he must do in order to grow in holiness. Man must seek the Lord to understand his own heart. Once man understands something of his own heart, the man will cry out to the Lord to take the world, pride, and self out of his heart. Not only that, however, the man will cry out to God to write His laws in the heart. All of this is by free and sovereign grace.

Real repentance has understanding and knowledge as a basis, but that understanding and knowledge can only come from the illuminating work of the Spirit of Christ. As David cried out for understanding of his sin and asked God to show him his sin, so we must cry out as it is free-grace to show us our sin. We don’t deserve to know our sin as God has turned us over to sin as judgment for sin. Strict justice demands that we be left in the prison and darkness of our sin because that is what we deserve, but free-grace says that for the glory of God Christ has suffered for sinners and fulfilled strict justice and so we must have light to understand our sin for free-grace to rescue us from our sin. Behold the glory of Christ in His freely opening the hearts of sinners to see what awful chains that binds them. Behold the sovereignty of Christ in opening the eyes of some who certainly don’t deserve to see and leaving others in darkness. Behold the wonder and glory of free-grace in teaching men of their sin. Behold the wonder and free-grace of our sovereign Lord who can raise up from stones children of Abraham and yet He raises enemies of God from the dead and makes them children of Abraham.

Behold the glory of free-grace in taking sinners who love the world and the things of the world and making them lovers of the living God. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes sinners who are born dead and then follow the ways of the world: “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” Oh how the world had or has our hearts and we simply follow along as if we had a ring in our nose. We follow the courses or ways of the world which is set to the tune of the prince of the power of the air. In that course or way of the world we lived in the lusts of our flesh and indulged the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Behold the wonders of free-grace which alone can take sinners and transfer them to a different kingdom and instead of living by the lusts of the flesh and of the mind, they now are lovers of the living God through King Jesus.

As long as people think of repentance as simply stopping external sin or making a choice to turn from unbelief to belief (as if that is possible), they will not understand the nature of sin and certainly not the wonders and glories of free-grace in Christ Jesus. It is the Lord Jesus alone who has the power to turn sinners from sin of the heart and give them love for Himself. It is the Lord Jesus alone who can break the power of sin by His blood which He shed on the cross. Behold the Lord Jesus Christ and the freeness of His grace to sinners who are hopelessly bound in sin and hatred of God. Behold the Lord Jesus Christ and the freeness of His grace to those who have nothing but hatred in their hearts for the true God even though they may be deceived into thinking that they love God. Behold the Lord Jesus Christ and the freeness of His grace in granting to sinners a love for the true God by changing their hearts and then sharing His love for the Father with them. Lovers of free-grace don’t even want a free-will much less believe it. They want the freeness of grace that they may delight in the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Real Repentance 34

August 6, 2015

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)

The need to deal with issues of real repentance as opposed to one being deceived about repentance and an easy repentance which is a deception as well is a great need. It may be the case that we have a great need for a new Reformation and an awakening or revival (as leaders in the SBC stated), but we must also be aware that a real repentance is utterly vital for those things. Along with that it takes a real and true grace to bring those things to pass and free-grace (a grace that is not conditioned by the works of human beings or anything in the human) is the only kind of grace there is. Yes, God prepares the hearts of men and women and this is done as human beings seek the Lord asking Him to give them a new heart, but that is not even close to the same thing as telling people that if we repent the Lord will send an awakening. We must seek repentance from the Lord who only grants it by grace and that whether He sends a revival or not.

What men and women in our day must (absolutely must) get in touch with is that the duties and uses of the means of grace can also be nothing but pride and self-righteousness. When a man does something that he would call repenting, that repentance is either moved by God or by the self-love of the person. Since God only shows grace that is free of being conditioned by the works and merit of men, a true repentance can only come by His grace. Anything a person can do that comes from self-love and the merit obtained by self will never move God to show grace. This is a basic principle that we must never lose sight of.

Should the SBC seek the Lord for a true revival or awakening? Yes, they should. However, as a real skeptic regarding this, they SBC would have to seek the Lord to take the veil off of their hearts. If a revival or awakening is to come to parts of the SBC, they will have to know that they must seek the Lord to grant them repentance by grace from what they see if He is pleased to lift the veil. A true repentance is not in their hands or power to grant or work for themselves, which is a direct hit on the theology of those in the SBC. The first thing that they will have to repent of is their theology and the second thing is their practices of evangelism and church growth that flows from their theology. Arminian theology (at best) and Pelagian theology (most likely the what the greatest number hold) cannot and will not be the recipients of a true revival. It is that simple.

It may be that some of the leaders in the SBC would have to step down in order to seek real repentance from the Lord. It may be that many of the ministers of larger churches would have to step down in order to seek the Lord. The reason for that is that if they started preaching the truth of free-grace the people would not listen to them. If they started preaching the true Gospel the churches would empty quite quickly, but that may be necessary if the men want to seek the Lord in truth. Just because a “church” has a large number of people in it is no sign of the blessings of God. Just because a “church” has a large numbers of baptisms in one year is not a sign of the blessings of God. Those things may be signs that God is giving that “church” over because it has been preaching a false gospel that the people love to hear.

Will the leaders in the SBC really seek revival? Could it be that many of them would not want real revival if it came? It may be that they want a revival that they can control and that will make the numbers in the churches larger and the denomination more prosperous. True repentance that God works would empty the church buildings in the SBC unless the leaders repent of their theology and their practices. Preaching Christ is more than saying the word a few times and calling men to the front of the building, but instead one only preaches Christ when Christ is the center and core of all that is preached. Christ is only preached when the truth that Christ taught in preached. Christ is only preached when He is preached as the manifestation of the one and true God. Christ is only preached when the true God that is preached is sovereign. Christ is only preached when free-grace is preached. The SBC needs to learn what free-grace is, what true sovereignty is, and what real repentance is. When they learn those things in the depths of the hearts, then and only then will the talk of revival have any meaning. Until then, the talk of revival sounds more like another form of church growth.

Real Repentance 33

August 4, 2015

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)

I received a magazine called SBCLIFE in the last day or two. There was a large heading that said GREAT AWAKENING and then “SBC Messengers Pray for US, World.” The reporter quoted several men and their words calling for people to pray, seek racial reconciliation, and to ask for an awakening or revival. As I read the report, and without knowing how many other things were said and went on, I was struck by the lack of recognition of what revival really is and what it would take. It seemed as if people thought God had to send it but it was almost as if He needed them to do things for Him to send revival. What a striking contrast to the statement of Thomas Adam above who recognized that God must make us what we should be.

The SBC is not in trouble because of racism or because of the many things listed, though one man did speak of pride which is a problem, it is in trouble because it has cast true theology behind its back and has focused on business models for church growth. The SBC is in trouble because it is looking to men and works for its help rather than God. Indeed it appeared to be giving lip service to God sending revival, but until men repent of thinking that God is waiting on them to get right in some way before He sends revival these men are clueless as to the nature of true revival.

I would argue that until there is a true working of God in the hearts of men in the SBC and they seek true repentance from God so that they will turn from their wicked ways of church growth and the wicked theology of Arminianism and Pelagianism, their works of prayer will have no effect but that of bringing a greater hardening upon their hearts. While one man gave lip service to the idea that we are like the Pharisees in our day, and that very well may be true, it is like the Pharisees to think that if we can do certain things then God will respond by giving us revival. That is another thought that men must seek the Lord to repent of.

Some will think that this as lacking graciousness or winsomeness, but the article and the actions and words of those in the SBC reveal a severe lack of the awareness of God, the reality and truth of grace, and the true nature of repentance. We don’t get to pick and choose what God would have us repent from, and we have no power to do anything to move God to send true revival. In accordance with the truth of Matthew 3:7-9, we can say “you brood of vipers, who told you that you could seek revival?” But again, “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 does not need the SBC and God does not need for them to do anything so that He will send revival. God only needs Himself to send revival. God only needs Himself to regenerate lost souls.

It is utterly vital that all things flow from the sovereignty of God and the free-grace of God rather than from the religious words and works of men. The article in the SBC magazine, if an accurate portrayal, revealed a great ignorance of the sovereignty of God and the free-grace of God. Men should not strive to work up repentance in themselves from the things they think are so bad, they should seek the Lord to be shown what they need to repent of and then seek Him to work that repentance in them. While they are speaking of racial reconciliation, they need to know the truth of free-grace so that they may know what it means to be reconciled to God. Racial reconciliation is not true repentance in and of itself and repentance from that on the surface cannot move God to show revival. True racial reconciliation can only happen in Christ and by grace, but it never, ever moves God to bring revival. Neither will all the works and prayers of men move God to bring an awakening or revival. Revival comes by grace alone which Christ alone can work in us and it is that grace which works true repentance in us. Revival or perhaps God’s working in His people to bring revival results in true repentance, but we must never, ever even sound like we believe that we can move God to send revival by what we do. We can do nothing spiritual but what we receive first.

Real Repentance 32

August 3, 2015

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)

Knowing the heart is a scary thing, but we must seek the Lord to show us the spiritual reality of our hearts. We must have Him show us the reality of our desires when for unbelievers very intent of the thoughts of the heart are only evil and that continually (Gen 6:5). But believers have not escaped the sinfulness of their hearts entirely nor have they escaped it for the most part. Even when we have a desire to know our hearts, it can be that we desire to know them from false and sinful motives. Do I want these things from the strength of religious self or from love for Him and His glory?

When we ask God to take the veil from our heart and mean it to some degree, even though it may be a small degree surrounded by self-love and the mechanisms it employs to protect itself, at some point it goes beyond just asking ourselves if we really want God to strip us of those things. It goes beyond the point of being satisfied if we have a desire for God to take the veil from the heart. At some point we have to submit to King Jesus and have Him to actually be stripped of the things He wants to strip from us and to submit to His pace in doing that. When He begins to strip us we will begin to cry out because of the pain and we will ask Him to stop, but He will not always do so. In His great love for His people He will strip them from the things that keep them from the greatest good, Himself. Will we seek Him to take those things away and do we really want to suffer the loss of those things? Will our hearts join with Paul in thinking all things as dross and dung which come in between our hearts and Christ?

This is to say that we may have some desire for God to take the veil from the heart for various reasons and some of those reasons may be from religious pride. We must know that when God lifts the corner of the veil and we see our religious pride and realize in a deeply experiential way that our righteousness is as menstrual cloths, our desire will be to flee back to a comfortable way of viewing ourselves. But what we must do is to flee to Christ and His free-grace. Our hearts are wed to self-righteousness in so many ways, and we must realize that despite our theological statements and what we say we believe we are full of self-righteousness and it is hidden from our eyes. It is only when the hideous nature of this is exposed that we will begin to see that we have no hope in anything but Christ and having Him by free-grace.

When He takes the veil off or lifts a corner it will be hard to believe the actual state of our hearts. We will become sick of self and sick of our own pride, perhaps even to the point of being nauseated. We will learn what it means to hate self, which is really to hate our self-centered idolatry and the stench of that will drive us to cry out to God against self and pride. So many think that they have repented, but when the veil is lifted they will see that they have not truly repented at all. Only the work of Christ in showing us our hearts and then teaching us about free-grace can lead us to a fuller and then a fuller repentance from pride and self. But beware, it is a painful process and you are not in control. Is this to say that you should not seek Him for it? No, it is just to say that it is something you should know is a painful process and it is not for those who just play with Christian things.

The very best that many have done is to have some form of behavior modification in becoming religious, but all that they do is done out of self-righteousness and pride. A person may think that s/he is orthodox and moral, but one sight of the heart as God shines the light in may destroy all of that. The person’s orthodoxy may come from a wicked heart that is full of pride, and a person’s morality may come from nothing but love for self and issue forth in self-righteousness. We must have Christ deliver us from those things in order that we would be saved and then sanctified by free-grace alone. True repentance is not just to stop doing things, it is to be turned from self, pride, and self-righteousness to Christ, His humility, and His righteousness. It is the glory of free-grace.

Real Repentance 31

August 2, 2015

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)

Do we really want to know our hearts? Do we really want God to strip us of all self-righteousness and all pride? While we will make the excuse that God will not take away all self-righteousness and pride in this life, that is not the point. Do we really want God to strip us of more self-righteousness and pride to the point where it is far beyond our comfort level? Do we want Him to strip us of self-righteousness and pride in theory or do we want Him to do this in fact? Do we really want God to take the love of and esteem of the world out of my heart? We must remember that repentance is turning from sin to God. When we see remaining sin in our hearts, can we say that we are true lovers of God if we don’t desire to turn from sin to Him? It is far easier to speak of religious things and spiritual things than it is to be stripped of them. One reason for this is that our hearts are wedded to our idols and it is painful to have them taken away. A second reason is that when God takes things away He uses fiery trials to do so. We flee from those things.

Jesus told us to deny self, take up our cross and follow Him. We cannot follow Christ any further than the degree we deny self. Notice, however, that the text and the question in this BLOG is not do I wish for God to take things from self, but do I want Him to work grace in my soul so that the very self is denied. It is one thing to want a veil to remain over our hearts so that we cannot see our sin and hand on tightly to our self-righteousness (at least in our own eyes), but it is perhaps just as dangerous if not more dangerous to deny self in a religious way and to deceive ourselves into thinking we have denied self. Do I truly want God to go after my self-love, self-sufficiency, and trust in self or am I content to remain in a state where those things keep me from seeking Christ? Do we really want God to take self out of our hearts or simply be satisfied with the appearance of it? We must want God to work in us so that we see our utter helplessness and inability before Him so that we know that it is only by His grace that self can be denied and only by grace that we can follow Christ. The true desire for these things can only come by grace and strength though the necessary trials is only by grace as well.

If the Lord is teaching us these things we will begin to notice that we may want to do these things out of pride, because this would really distinguish us from others. This just teaches us that self and pride have a very deep root in us and will always keep coming back in some way. It has been noted that pride seems particularly virulent in spiritual things and perhaps has greater strength there than any other place. Whether that is true or not it may be hard to know, but if we can listen to a word from the experience of others and that is that pride is at the heart of sin and the closer one gets to it the harder it will fight. As long as we stay comfortable and away from the very depths of pride and self pride they can hide themselves in religious activities, but when the Lord begins to strike at pride and self to the very quick, they fight with a greater ferocity. The Lord must expose these horrid sins to us in order to reveal our hearts to us and as such our utter need for grace at all points and all ways. It is here we see the great need of the believer to live by free-grace and not just think of it as a past event.

As we being to examine our hearts with the light of Scripture and praying for His illumination of ourselves, we will being to ask about our motives for doing these things. We will ask ourselves if we want these things out of pride or out of love for Him? This is a trick of our own hearts or perhaps the devil, though the question is needful. The part that is a trick or a deception is to give up when we discover self and pride in our own hearts. It is true that in this life we will never be rid of all pride and self, so this should teach us to look for small desires to be rid of pride and pride and self rage in our hearts with a great deception. The Lord Jesus leaves His people with small desires for Himself to teach them to live by free grace and not by anything in themselves. Faith as a mustard seed is true faith, even though it is surrounded by great pride and self. Learn to look for real grace in the midst of a great trial and of great amounts of pride. Leave the pride to Christ to overcome as only He can do so. Our pride will never defeat our pride and our self will never cast out self. Only Christ can do so and He will bring His people to nothing or near nothing in order to teach them to live by free grace and nothing of themselves.

Real Repentance 30

August 1, 2015

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.