Repentance is not just a decision
„"Yet even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments." Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?”
I do not need to present today's practice of repentance. It is exactly the opposite of what the Word of God says to us. Basically, the biggest problem there is that repentance is thought of as a one-time event, a kind of decision, even though repentance is a state in which we must remain.
For if one repents to God, he must remain there, that is, not deviate from God. When we read repentance in the Word of God, repentance always has a content, namely, abandoning sins and repenting of deeds. Even our beginner verses outlines a startling picture for today, to be repented by fasting, crying, grieving, heartbreaking. How different it is than when someone repents with joy! You can cheer, but only after leaving sin. Not after repentance, but after leaving sin! It makes a big difference, for Judas, for example, also had repentance, except that he did not forsake it, that is, he did not accept the consequences. Here we could talk now about the harvest of sin at the same time, but let us now stick to the subject of repentance.
It used to be much more characteristic of believers that they repented by fasting, dressed in sackcloth, for they understood the weight of sin and at the same time showed God how much they regret it, how disgusted it was. And today people are celebrating! But what does God's Word say about this? To most people, the answer is: you don’t have to deal with it! But we deal, so let's read:
„Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations-- I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.”
Looking at the situation today in the light of this verse, we can draw a sad conclusion. First, God’s view is that sin and celebration are incompatible. And today’s Christian creed: it is normal that we commit sins, after all, no one can be perfect, and they sing songs. There is quite a contrast between the two.
„"Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! Pass over to Calneh, and see, and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. Are you better than these kingdoms? Or is their territory greater than your territory, O you who put far away the day of disaster and bring near the seat of violence? "Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away." The Lord GOD has sworn by himself, declares the LORD, the God of hosts: "I abhor the pride of Jacob and hate his strongholds, and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it." And if ten men remain in one house, they shall die. And when one's relative, the one who anoints him for burial, shall take him up to bring the bones out of the house, and shall say to him who is in the innermost parts of the house, "Is there still anyone with you?" he shall say, "No"; and he shall say, "Silence! We must not mention the name of the LORD." For behold, the LORD commands, and the great house shall be struck down into fragments, and the little house into bits. Do horses run on rocks? Does one plow there with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood-- you who rejoice in Lo-debar, who say, "Have we not by our own strength captured Karnaim for ourselves?" "For behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel," declares the LORD, the God of hosts; "and they shall oppress you from Lebo-hamath to the Brook of the Arabah."”
I would like to highlight this verse:
„who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music”
What is definitely worth knowing about David is that he was famous all over the country, which is why he was recommended to King Saul.
„Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. And Saul's servants said to him, "Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well." So Saul said to his servants, "Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me." One of the young men answered, "Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the LORD is with him."”
When Saul was possessed by the evil spirit, the evil departed from him during the glorification of David.
„And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.”
Not because he played so badly, but because the glorification of David was kind to God, and God was present in him, so the wicked had no abode. God spoke of David in the same way as no one but His own Son, that is, that He is according to His heart, for He will do all His will.
„And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you."”
God rejected Saul as king because he did not do the will of God, but did according to his own will. David, on the other hand, sought the will of God and not his own. That is why Paul spoke of it in summary:
„Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, 'I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.'”
David's praise was kind because of his heart, not because of its sound quality. God's hearing is very sophisticated, for He sees not only the voices but also the hearts, and what glorifies Him most is not the song, but rather the obedience to Him that characterized David as well.
„"I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
The future fate of the believers of today is therefore frightening. The word of God should continue to be the guiding thread, instead explaining why one should not obey Him. Yet the essence of our creation is to do God’s will, and His will is to bear good fruit, to have good works for His glory.
„For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
But what's the today's believers vision? They say that fruit growing is not important, obedience is not important. This is what Solomon spoke of:
„See, this alone I found, that God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.”
There really are a lot of ideas, thousands of denominations. He created us to be true, but most of them don’t even want to take notice of this. They simplify repentance, they do not forsake sins, they do not see the difference between doers of truth and falsehood, so they prefer the easier path, that is, they do falsehood. Because there is no immediate retribution for sins, people are filled with evil deeds and therefore their conscience is dulled.
„Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”
As we read in Ezekiel, God does not want the sinner to die, but to repent and be saved (Ezek. 18: 21-23). Therefore, the judgment of sin is not immediately fulfilled so that those who can still repent of evil deeds have the opportunity to dedicate themselves to God. Jesus is waiting patiently. But we cannot know when the chapter of our lives will end, that is, we cannot know when the last day will come for us.
„If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment--what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me."”
Let us be ready and remain among the believers.
Author: Antal Farkas