I was hanging around the house yesterday getting some random things done and suddenly I started feeling very negative and unsettled. I wasn’t sure exactly what it was about but I knew I needed to take it to God. I went to my room, got on my knees, and asked God to meet me there with his presence. I asked him to help me understand why I was feeling so badly, and to reveal what was going on. Somehow I knew what was wrong had to do with me internally, rather than some external situation or another person. I had actually spent a lot of time in worship and prayer, and was confused about why I was feeling so unsettled.
God very quickly met with me and revealed some sin in me I hadn’t realized was there. I was struggling with some covetousness and jealousy and I hadn’t even noticed it. This hadn’t been there long before God lovingly brought it to light. We all have the ability to be guilty of literally every potential sin, and we have to be on guard and ready and willing to acknowledge our sin, no matter how awful we think it is. There was a time in my life that sharing this kind of struggle and being honest like this would have made me uncomfortable and embarrassed. I thank God that he has shown me that there is power in confession and honesty. That confession humbles me and encourages others that it’s okay to make mistakes, that God is always waiting to forgive. When he revealed this sinful attitude I quickly confessed and repented, then I asked him to take those things away, and to help me be content with exactly where he has me. He answered that prayer and I quickly felt relief.
Repentance is critical in the life of a Christian. If you are born again into Jesus Christ then you hopefully learned about repentance and forgiveness of sins. Something I think that is less talked about is regular repentance. This isn’t about salvation, as we are saved by grace through faith, and our salvation is sealed by the Holy Spirit. Your salvation doesn’t depend on daily repentance of sin, but your closeness with God and his anointing does. Regular repentance is so incredibly important because it cleanses us and makes us right with God, it corrects us, it enables us to bare fruit, and strengthens us against the devil. Repentance cleanses us from the negative impacts of sin. Negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, distance from God. Unrepentant sin has significant impacts on us. This is something God has been so faithfully helping me with and I’m overwhelmed by the fact that he loves me so much and leads me to repentance.
A few months ago I had been watching a certain show. It really wasn’t too bad, but it was effecting my mind in some negative ways. I remember during that time I wasn’t feeling as close to God and one day I asked him why that was. He immediately revealed the reason. God told me that watching that certain show wouldn’t impact my salvation, and I could watch it if I wanted too, but that it would impact my closeness to him. I immediately fell to my knees in surrender and repented of my choice. (When I say God told me, what I mean by that is he spoke the words directly and clearly to my mind, not in an audible way.) God instantly forgave me, cleansed my mind, and surrounded me with his loving presence. Maybe it seems weird that I have these experiences with God on a regular basis. This happens because my heart desires connection and closeness with God. I seek him as often as I can and make being in his presence a priority. Why? Because I can’t stand myself without him. I need him every day and I’m not ashamed of that. I know I’m weak, sinful, and that I desperately need Jesus always to have any hope. In the moment he convicted me I knew that my closeness and connection with him was much more important than the enjoyment and pleasure I got from the show. Believe me, I wanted to keep watching it, but I didn’t want to be distant from God. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice that. Listen, if I sound self-righteous I want to assure you that is not my intention. In fact, I watched an entire season of this show with little to no thought of it. It wasn’t until I noticed that I felt distant from God and asked him why that I recognized my error. To be honest, I’m not into following a bunch of rules for the sake of following rules. The bottom line, sin and a lack of repentance puts a wedge between me and my savior, and I can’t stand that. That’s why I choose to obey when he convicts, whether in his word or in the way he directly speaks to me.
Why has this been happening more recently? God has truly broken me down over the last year and a half and it has been painful. He has allowed me to face many spiritual attacks, has allowed me to suffer from grief and loss, and he has comforted me and strengthened me through it all. What this has done to me is reminded me of my fragile and weak state, and my desperate need for God every single day. Without him I will crumble under the weight of it all. This has brought freedom from many false beliefs about my own strength and ability apart from God. God has stripped away doubts about his power, fears, pride, anxiety, and many other things. It is more clear now that when God moves supernaturally through me it literally has nothing to do with me, in fact, he does so in spite of me.
God has made it a strong point lately to continually urge me to a place of repentance when need be. Why? Because I’ve been asking him to remove anything in me that might impact my ability to be his vessel or that might put distance between us. Whether it be false beliefs, sinful behaviors or attitudes, unresolved pain. Not surprisingly, he has had a lot of work to do in me, and more to do still. This is what changes me and enables me to be the vessel of the Holy Spirit I truly desire to be. Without repentance and correction I simply can’t be what I need and want to be. Do you ask God to change you? To cleanse you from whatever might be in you that is impacting your closeness with him? To show you hidden sin that needs confessing? Not doing this paves the way for shame and guilt, and those things can destroy us.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.”
Proverbs 28:13-14 ESV
If your heart is hardened and you are full of pride it will be difficult to live in a state of repentance. If you haven’t felt the need to repent in a long time and you can’t think of anything you need to repent of I encourage you to confess your pride and hardness of heart. I love how God compares prospering to mercy in this verse. Prospering in The Lord is not necessarily what you might think. To prosper is to walk in the mercy and forgiveness of God. To be free of guilt and shame. Nothing compares to his mercy and grace, and he is always willing to offer it to the one whose heart is softened and open to his correction.
This process can be painful and difficult. But it is necessary and always worth it. A few months ago my husband was at a work conference and dinner and wasn’t going to be home until late. Normally when that happens I watch a movie like pride and prejudice or bride wars. That afternoon I felt a very strong and very strange urge in me to spend my night with God. I was so excited and couldn’t wait. I got the kids to bed and started my night with Jesus. I got my Bible and my journal and was looking forward to all that God would reveal to my heart and the awesome time we would have together. I started praising him and asking him to meet with me and reveal himself to me in whatever way he wanted to. Then my puppy started barking at me and interrupting my time with God. You wouldn’t believe how angry I got literally while worshiping God. Next thing I know, all of a sudden God started revealing sin as well as unresolved pain in me and I started feeling not so pleasant emotions. No wonder I was so quick to anger. It was a little brutal if I’m honest. He was calling me out and, thankfully, my heart was receptive. Afterward I felt so loved by God and so close to him. I felt such gratitude that in-spite of my sin and unworthiness he counted me worthy because of Christ and didn’t leave me the way I was. Read this passage of God’s Word with me,
“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’” Revelation 3:19-22 ESV
God is telling us here that he corrects and disciplines us because he loves us. Because he wants us to conquer and have victory. Not only that, he wants to be close to us and connect with us in deeper ways. Ways that can’t happen when we are unrepentant. In all of these experiences Ive mentioned, and believe me this is a regular thing nowadays, I would definitely say I could feel God knocking on my heart, letting me know something was wrong. I needed to open my heart, get into his presence, allow him to lovingly correct my error, and zealously repent. I could feel the heavy weight of sin and repressed pain lift away, and the comfort of his forgiveness, healing, and presence take its place. I praise God for loving me enough to correct me and lead me to repentance. I encourage you to start doing the same so that you can experience the freedom and power of his presence.
I need to live in a state of repentance because I sin daily. Why? Because I still have a sinful flesh despite the fact that the spirit of God lives in me. My sin doesn’t separate me from God, but it puts a wedge between us. And that is not God’s fault, it’s my fault. Scripture says “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
(Galatians 5:6, 16-17). When we are unrepentant and continuing in sin we are in the flesh and not the spirit. When we are in the flesh we are choosing to be distant from God. Why? Because closeness with God comes through the Spirit. When we humble ourselves and draw near to God and enter his presence God will reveal any unrepentant sin, whether it be obvious sin or hidden sin. Remember, sin is not just behavior, it can also be attitudes, thoughts, ignoring God’s calling, or emotions. When he reveals these things we have a choice to confess and repent, allowing him to cleanse us, or ignore his correction and continue in our sin rather than walking away from it in step with the Spirit. The same chapter says “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:24-25 ESV). How do we keep in step with the Spirit? By daily crucifying our flesh through living in humble repentance.
Don’t be afraid of God’s correction. Humble yourself, enter his presence, and allow him to draw near to you and cleanse you. You will walk away in the Spirit. And “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17.