Every prophet in the Bible proclaimed a message which called the people to repentance. From Moses to John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles, the message was consistent; “Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Repentance is essential to a restored relationship with our Heavenly Father. Repentance is a condition of our heart whereby we recognize our sin and, in desperation and sorrow, turn and cry out in faith to God for help…the help of forgiveness which only comes through Jesus Christ.
“‘Even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.'”
In the Old Testament times it was common for someone to tear (or rend) their clothes when they were expressing great sorrow. For example, when Jacob thought that Joseph had been killed by wild animals, he “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days” (Genesis 37:34). When the Israelites were beaten when attacking the city of Ai, Joshua “tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord” (Joshua 7:6).
Tearing your clothes was an outward expression of sorrow. But all through Scripture, God makes it abundantly clear that He looks deep into our heart; “These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men” (Isaiah 29:13). Jesus referenced this exact passage when He confronted the hypocritical worship of the Pharisees (Matthew 15:7-9).
We must never even hint that repentance is determined by “right” outward behavior. Repentance is always a condition of the heart, and doing right in the eyes of God is only accomplished by allowing His Spirit to transform us into a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is only through His power that we can ever be set on a right path of being “conformed to the likeness of His Son” (Romans 8:29).
God has more grace to forgive than we can possibly imagine; but our loving Father expects – even demands – our heart. He is fully aware of the many ways we sin and fall short of His glory, but until we understand how far we have fallen and genuinely desire to change, we will never appreciate His grace in making us clean – never experience His “times of refreshing.” Let’s seek His forgiveness and walk in closer harmony with our Heavenly Father. Let’s confess our sins and, with repentant sorrow, stand before Him today, and rend our heart.
Have a Christ Centered Day!
God’s Daily Word Ministries
**** Reading Plan ****
Sep 25 Isaiah 45:11-48:11; Ephesians 4:1-16; Psalm 68:19-35; Proverbs 24:3-4