Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Genuine Repentance by Martin Wiles

Sam thinks renewing his wedding vows will solve his problems. He tarnished his first marriage by unfaithfulness and the second isn’t fairing much better. He’s abandoned Mary twice already for another woman, a far off land and wasted living. Sam lives the prodigal’s dream.

Conviction overcomes Sam, and he calls to ask if I will perform the ceremony. I agree. Two weeks later he runs away again with the same woman. He eventually returns, Mary takes him back, but he pays a price. Everyone questions his sincerity and wonders how long before he will repeat his bad behavior. 

A casual reading of the verse makes it appear God’s people are serious about repentance, but Hosea knows better. Come, let us return to the LORD.  He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds (Hosea 6:1).

What they voice is presumption not genuine repentance. They believe they can simultaneously hold onto sin and experience God’s presence. Even when God sends judgment, they assume it will be short lived. He isn’t really that angry. God soon demonstrates the extent of his wrath by allowing the nation to be taken into Assyrian exile.

But the verse is actually true. God will heal under the right circumstances. God only dwells in relationships where genuine repentance is present. Repentance is not shallow sorrow over getting caught but sincere regret over sin coupled with a willingness to turn in a different direction. From this juncture, a lifestyle of holiness is pursued and will invite the presence of God in a way not previously experienced. Let “I’m sorry” be followed by a different direction.

Prayer: Lord, lead us to genuine repentance followed by joyful love of You and others.

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