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“Of all the acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.”

Thomas Carlyle

House cleaning is therapeutic. Most of my life I haven’t really enjoyed cleaning but last week I crossed over to the other side as I pondered its benefits. Working hard, like any exercise, releases endorphins. Accomplishment brings satisfaction. Not having clutter staring me in the face and restoring order to my house gives me peace. Even the microwave being wiped clean of spills yields serenity each time I use it.

One thought leads to another and before I knew it cleaning my house turned into cleaning my heart through repentance. I like Todd Nibert’s definition of repentance. “Repentance is siding with God against self.” The Noah Webster 1828 dictionary defines repentance as “real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God.” When I choose to repent in essence I am turning away from sin and turning toward God.

Just as my thoughts about cleaning house have changed, so too have my thoughts altered regarding repentance. I used to feel ashamed when I was convicted of sin, most likely because the enemy jumped on it and used it to condemn my character, causing me to avoid it.

Now I see repentance as a gift from God. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. (Romans 2:4) God wants to set us free from our guilt and shame so He provides a way of escape through repentance. Just as peace is restored to my heart after I’ve cleaned my house, so too peace is reestablished after I’ve repented of my sin. Not only peace, but refreshment comes through our genuine repentance. Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” I experience freedom when my sin is cleansed and my relationship with God is restored.

Periodically I’ll ask God to show me what’s in my heart. I want the Holy Spirit to shine His light upon any unconfessed sin and when He does I immediately repent. Years ago the Lord taught me the ‘easiest’ time to repent is right after I’ve been convicted, just like the easiest time to scrape dishes is immediately after using them. If I wait and let them sit in the sink, the food hardens making it much more difficult to wash. Likewise if I wait to repent, pride will surely come in and harden my heart, convincing me I don’t need to be penitent. When I repent I’m agreeing with the psalmist when he wrote, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:10a)

In closing, join me in praying a Puritan prayer written by Arthur Bennett. “Work in me more profound and abiding repentance; Give me the fullness of godly grief, that trembles and fears, yet ever trust and loves, which is ever powerful, and ever confident; Grant through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly the brightness and glories of the saving cross.”

“Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you.”

Bruce Wilkinson

Relevant Reflections:

1. Ask God what’s in your heart. If He shines His light on a sin, repent of it.

2. What benefits have you experienced through repentance?

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