The source of true repentance
Many different views and opinions exist as to the means to bring a person to repentance. They say that a horse can be led to water, but he cannot be made to drink. The same is true concerning our sinful desires. We can beat people down with guilt and drive them to their needs before an angry God, and on the outside they may change their actions, but their hearts remain in bondage. Overcoming sin is not just an outside change, it is an inward change. Not sinning, but longing to sin in your heart is not at all what God considers victory. If that is all the victory we can have in Christ, then the gospel we believe in is a weak one at best. Even the flesh can resist sin if it really wants to or has been beaten into submission through fear.
Is fear of wrath God’s way to transform the heart and change us? No. It is Satan’s method to control and beat people into submission against their will. It is the Pharisee way of forcing people to change on the outside, but it makes no genuine impact on the heart of a man. But what about the Fear of the Lord? If that question is on your mind, then you really need to read my monthly brief from August of last year, titled, “Two types of fear of the Lord.”
God’s Word tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance:
Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
So my question to Christians today is, can anything else bring us to repentance? Is there any substitute or other ways to bring a person to repentance? Can fear and hell-fire preaching bring a person to their knees? Yes, but does that mean they have truly repented (in their heart) of their sin? No, because once the fear is gone, they are liable to fall right back into their sinful desires. Does that bring heart transformation? Not at all. Only the love and goodness of God brings true heart transformation and change from the inside out. Laying guilt on people’s shoulders about sin does nothing to transform the heart.
This goes back to the whole idea of why God allowed man to sin in the first place. He gave man a freewill because He wanted us to choose to have a relationship with Him, not because it was our only choice. If God wanted to force us to worship Him, it wouldn’t be true worship. We would worship Him because we had to, not because we wanted to. God wants us to “want to” have fellowship and worship Him. In the same way, He wants us to “want to” turn from our sins and be holy, for He is holy. When we gain revelation on how much He loves us and how merciful He is towards us, a fire begins to burn within our spirits to respond to such a good God. That burning is the work of the Holy Spirit, and if we allow Him, He will transform our heart and bring us to a place where we are becoming like Christ, hating the things which He hates, and loving the things which He loves.
Learning God’s true and unreligious heart and desires for you is the most life-transforming discovery that we can stumble upon. Where do we learn about His heart for us? By studying His Word. I have written a great teaching that God has given me a while back that is titled How God Sees Us, and it is a great place to start on your journey of discovering God’s heart for you.
Blessings in Christ,