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Repentance From Dead Works (8)

So far, we have seen from the parable of the Prodigal Son that true repentance must necessarily be preceded by a realization that what one has been engaged in is sin, and that one now wants to change his ways henceforth. But we have also seen that this realization does not come that easy. Indeed, many people continue to live in sin, and some even revel in it, thinking that they are having fun. This was the situation of the prodigal son who, took his inheritance before it was time, and went to a far country, away from parental authority and scrutiny, where he lived wastefully and wantonly, until there was nothing left of his inheritance. And it did not occur to him all that time that he had done anything wrong. Even when a famine struck, and he went and joined himself to a stranger, and became his slave, feeding swine, contrary to Gods law, he still did not realize that he was doing wrong. Then, the unthinkable happened: he desired to eat what pigs eat, because no one gave him food; only then did he come to his senses, and he said: How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee

In Job 33:14-30, the bible says, For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction, That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man. He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword. He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain: So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat. His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out. Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers. If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness: Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth: He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him: and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness. He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not; He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light. Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

In interacting with man, Gods goal is to keep man from pursuing a course of action which will eventually lead him to the pit of hell! Thus, when God sends a message to a man or woman, it is primarily to keep that persons soul from perishing, and from being lost forever in the pit of hell. Apart from messages from preachers, God also uses dreams and visions, and if these dont work, He would use sickness and debilitating conditions, to bring man to his senses, and to the realization of his sinfulness, which will then lead him to the place of true repentance. So, in His mercy, God uses several ways of bringing people to their senses, and to the realization that what they are doing is wrong, so that they can then repent before Him, and He can forgive them of their sins, and save them from the pit of hell!

For the prodigal son, it was the lack of food, which God used in bringing him to his senses, and to the decision to go back to his father and repent. In the case of Simon Peter, a foremost disciple of Jesus, whose denial of Jesus and his realization thereof, is documented in Matthew 26:69-75, it was the cock which crowed as foretold by Jesus, when he had told Peter that before the cock crowed, Peter would have denied Him three times, which brought Peter back to his senses. Before the cock crowed, Peter had vehemently denied any knowledge of or, association with Jesus; and even when he was confronted with overwhelming evidence he began to curse and swear that he did not know Jesus. When Peter denied Jesus, and even cursed and swore to an oath falsely, he couldnt have been in his right mind, but when the cock crowed, Peter came back to his senses, and wept bitterly, realizing that he had indeed denied Jesus; an act he had vowed he could never do! How often do we deny Jesus, even after we have vowed not to? It is when certain events happen, similar to a cock crowing, that it dawns on us that we have indeed denied Jesus. But such realization should bring us to seek Gods forgiveness; not to enter into self-condemnation!

In 2 Samuel 11:1-27; 12:1-14, we read about how David, the king of Israel, had committed adultery with the wife of one of his soldiers; and when she told him that she was pregnant, David tried to get the soldier, the womans husband, to sleep with her, so that he would own a child which was not his. Well, the soldier refused to go home, preferring to stay away from his wife. When David saw that his plan to get the womans husband to own the pregnancy had failed, he then sent the soldier back to the battle field, with a letter to his commandant instructing him to send the soldier to the hottest part of the battle, and then withdraw from him, so that he (the soldier) would be killed in battle. Once the soldier was killed in battle, David then proceeded to bring the soldiers wife, whom he had impregnated, into his palace; giving the impression that he was concerned for the welfare of the new widow. The woman eventually gave birth to the child, and it was now rightly ascribed to David, but not as a product of adultery! It is very instructive to note that all the while, David would have continued to go to the house of God; he would have continued to sing praise to God with his harp; and he would have continued to pray to God. Unlike the prodigal son, nothing adverse had happened to David as yet. In fact, everything continued as though no sin had been committed. Then one day, after the child had been born and was growing up, God sent Nathan, a prophet, to report an incident to David; an incident which really was a parable, but David did not know it to be a parable. Well take that part of the story from 2 Samuel 12:1-7 And he (Nathan) came unto him (David), and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David's anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. As David heard the narration of how the rich man who had it all, left what he had, and went to take from the poor man the only thing the poor man had, he was livid, not realizing that he was the one being referred to in the parable. God had used this parable to bring David to the place of conviction of his sinfulness. Such is the impact of a parable. Like David, it is possible for you to hear a parable, relay it to others, and even pass judgment, without realizing that it is you God is speaking about! And unless God brings you to your senses, you will never really appreciate that you are a sinner or are sinning!

In Daniel 4, God had to bring Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who at the time ruled the world, to his senses, before he (Nebuchadnezzar) realized that he was but a mere man! Nebuchadnezzar had been living in oblivion of Gods involvement in his affairs, and acting as though his destiny was in his own hands. But all that soon changed. One day, God spoke to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream, and gave its interpretation to him through Daniel. Unfortunately, the king did not heed Daniels counsel to break off his sins by righteous acts. So, one year after the message from God, Nebuchadnezzar was in his palace, boasting about his achievements, when God struck him and gave him the heart of an animal. He stayed that way for seven years, eating grass and living in the forest! At the end of seven years, God had brought Nebuchadnezzar back to his senses, and his testimony in Daniel 4:34-37 speaks volumes: And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me. Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment: and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. It was not until God brought Nebuchadnezzar to his senses that he realized that God was supreme over all; and he repented and confessed the Sovereignty and Supremacy of God, and was restored in every area of his life. Friend, restoration does not just happen; it is the direct result of true repentance!

Even today, God is still seeking to bring people to their senses, so that they can realize their sinfulness, repent of their sins, and He can then restore them totally! In response to a question by His disciples as to why he was speaking to people in parables, the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 13:15, For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. We can see that one of the major off-shoots of true repentance is restoration. The Lord Jesus is saying that if only you can realize that those selfish and soulish things you are enjoying are sinful, and repent of them, you will be totally restored, that is, completely healedbrought back to how you should have been had it not been for sin! Unfortunately, many people, whether they be in church or not, have ears but cannot hear what God is saying; others have eyes, but cannot see what God is showing them; and yet others still, do not understand simple illustrations God is giving them to see the utter sinfulness of their actions. But if they could just receive what God is saying to them, see what He is showing them, and understand with their hearts, what deadly and eternally separating effect sin has on man, they would fall to their knees in true repentance, and God will restore to them everything they have lost. But how many people take God seriously? How many people allow God to bring them to their senses? When we look around us, especially in the city of Port-Harcourt, where there are more churches per square kilometre, than perhaps any other place in the world, we cannot but wonder, why there is so much iniquity and waywardness, particularly among those who attend church. The answer lies in the fact that although people hear Gods word continually, they reject it in their hearts, even though they have seen what God has done to those who rejected His word in time past. There are many regular church attendees, who still commit fornication, adultery, and abortion; who steal, take and give bribes, and deliberately pervert justice; who prophesy falsely and preach heresy for their bellys sake; and there are also church leaders who live contrary to the word of God. One wonders if people really know what God is capable of. Will you not come to your senses and repent now? Is it until the house you built with ill-gotten wealth is burnt to the ground? Is it until you are carrying an unwanted pregnancy? Is it until you are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS? Is it until you are arrested and paraded on television on charges of fraud? Or is it until you die on the abortion table? Friend, dont let things get to the point where it will be too late, in which case, you will not be able to turn to God in repentance; and will end up in hell forever!

Let us pray!