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Repentance From Dead Works (12)

In our last broadcast, we saw that if you say, Im sorry, renounce sin, and eliminate the things that can lead you to sin again, like the love of money, ungodly friendships, unholy alliances, the desire for worldly possessions, and so on, your repentance will still fall short of Gods requirement. True repentance must include restitution, which simply is, making good any wrong that you have done to men. Restitution is premised on the principle that if indeed you have done away with sin, then its fruit, or acquisitions from a sinful lifestyle, should not be found in you. Hence, stolen items in your possessions should be returned to their original owners. If you are in a marriage, other than a first marriage, and your spouse from the first marriage is still alive, you should immediately terminate the marriage you are in, and return to your first marriage, if indeed, you have repented, and are now born again. Marriage-related restitution may have complications, so we advise that pastoral counsel be sought, before proceeding with it; but as a general scriptural precept, please note that:
(a) If you are not a first wife, have repented of sin, and are now born again, you should immediately detach from your present ungodly union, and ask for forgiveness from the mans wife. If there are children born, and the man wants to take care of them, good; if not, the grace of God will suffice for you to cope with the challenge.
(b) If you are married to another woman, while your wife is still alive, and you are now born again, you should seek the forgiveness of the woman, return her to her people with adequate compensation, and return to your wife, asking for her forgiveness. If there are children born in the erstwhile union, you are to take care of them.
(c) If you were cheating on your husband or wife, and you are now born again, your restitution will be to tell your spouse that you had been cheating on him or her. It is advisable to have a respected third Party present, while you are making your restitution.
Without restitution, the devil will continually accuse you before God, and ultimately, you will lose your soul in eternity. We pray that God will grant you the grace to make restitution that is needful.

To the discussion for today; there is a disposition which when exhibited by a sinner, becomes the hallmark of his repentance. Without the right disposition, your repentance is either fake or null and void; but where the right disposition exists, forgiveness, joy, and peace, is the blessing from God, to the repentant sinner. In Isaiah 57:15, it is written, For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. A contrite spirit speaks of a person who is crushed in heart because he has realized how utterly sinful he is and how horribly he has hurt God because of his sinfulness; while a humble spirit speaks of a person who considers himself as nothing in contrast to Gods mightiness. The combination of a contrite and a humble spirit is the right dispositionthe disposition of contrition, which makes God to revive a sinner, bringing him joy and peace in his heart. In Matthew 5:3, the Lord Jesus said, Blessed [that is, the evidence of the joy and peace of God in the heart] are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The expression, the poor in spirit refers to a person who has realized his state of spiritual poverty and thus, his need for God. Such is the disposition of contrition. But there is another disposition which some people have, and which does not bring the blessings of Godthis is the disposition of arrogance. A person with a disposition of arrogance feels that he is a good person, and should not be ranked with sinners. He erroneously believes that he is not bad, and therefore need not repent. He is the kind of person who says, I dont smoke; I dont drink; I dont womanize; so, Im not a sinner and insists that God accepts him on that basis. If at all he accepts that he has sinned, his verdict is that it is minor and does not warrant the fuss of repenting. And if he does consent to repent, he thinks that he is doing the preacher or even God a favour.

In Luke 18:10-14, the Lord Jesus told a parable about two menone with a disposition of arrogance; the other with the disposition of contrition: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. The Pharisee, who was religious, and who prayed regularly, did not believe that he was a sinner, because he was not an extortionist, neither was he an adulterer, nor was he negligent in his religious duties of fasting and tithing. Sadly, the Pharisee, like many church goers today, exhibited the disposition of arrogance. His disposition betrayed his self-righteousness, which is an abomination before God. Even though he believed he was not a sinner, his self-righteousness was a sin! And before God, sin is sin, whether or not you are religious! You may not smoke, drink alcohol, or womanize, but do you tell lies? The market woman who knocks in the derica measuring Can to reduce the quantity of rice, garri, or beans she is selling to her customers, is as sinful as the extortionist! The man who looks upon a woman with lust in his heart, is as much a sinner as the man who commits the physical act of adultery! The woman who fasts regularly, but who dresses seductively, is as much a sinner as a prostitute! A man who pays tithe regularly, but who pays his workers unfair wages, is as sinful as the human trafficker! The man who does not love his Christian brother, is as much a sinner as the man who does not love God!

The publican on the other hand, who was generally seen as a corrupt person; someone we could liken to todays Customs officer, immigrations officer, policeman, corrupt judge, politician, and so on, had a disposition that showed that he realized that he was utterly sinful, and needed God. He stood afar off from the temple; signifying that he saw the temple as holy and not a place for a sinful man like himself to stand before. He would not as much as lift up his eyes to heaven, signifying that he saw himself as unqualified to venture to look at what represents to men, the abode of God. He beat his breast, signifying a deep remorse for his sins. He asked for Gods mercy, signifying that he realized how he had offended God, and was aware that no good or religious deeds could make God forgive him. So, while the publican placed himself at the mercy of God, the Pharisee relied on his religious deeds to make him acceptable to God; and in the end, it was the publican who was declared righteous by God, whereas, the Pharisee went away unrighteous and remained in his sin. In John 9:39-41, the bible records, And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. Friend, seeking to justify yourself is not only a disposition of arrogance, but it also keeps you in your sinful state! Fasting and righteousness are not synonymous, for even though fasting represents contrition before God, the disposition of the Pharisee was not; and hence, Gods verdict on him! A disposition of contrition is one that God cannot turn away from, no matter how sinful a man had been! A disposition of arrogance makes God to retreat from the person exhibiting it, as it is abominable to Him, especially when found in a Christian.

The story of three kings of Judah will illustrate how God responds to the disposition of men. In 2 Chronicles 26:1-23, the bible tells the story of King Uzziah, who was marvellously helped by God, and who accomplished a lot as a result. But after he became established, the bible tells us in v. 16, that, ... his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. The expression, his heart was lifted up is the disposition of arrogance. King Uzziah went beyond his kingly functions to perform the priestly function of burning incense in the temple, and when the priests confronted him, instead of repenting, he was angry at the priests. God therefore afflicted him with leprosy, and he was cast out from the temple; but we never heard that he repentedsuch is the behaviour of a man with the disposition of arrogance. In 2 Chronicles 16:1-12, the bible tells the story of another king; King Asa, who turned away from God to seek help from a foreign king. And when God sent a prophet to tell him that what he had done was wrong, instead of turning to God in repentance, King Asa locked up the prophet in prison, and began to oppress his people. And when King Asa was diseased in his feet, he still did not seek after God, but turned to physicians. The disposition of arrogance was evident in these two kingsthey regarded no one, not even God; they did as they liked, because they thought that they had arrived and were established; they rebelled against the counsel of God; and, they sort after anything and anyone other than God to solve their problems. When a man exhibits a disposition of arrogance, he fails to realize that his sin is his pride, and sadly, never repents! There are people who think that their wealth or position in society, which God has graciously granted them, entitles them to privileges in the house of God. They think that they are qualified to dictate to Gods ordained pastors over them; but refuse to repent when the pastor speaks to them about Gods counsel. The result, sadly, is that they are ostracized from the programme and presence of God forever!

2 Chronicles 33:1-17 gives the account of the third king, King Manasseh. This was a very wicked king, who caused the people of God to sin exceedingly against God. God was so angry with King Manasseh that He brought an enemy king to capture and imprison him. But in his afflictions, the bible records that King Manasseh besought God, and humbled himself greatly before God and prayed unto Him when God saw how greatly King Manasseh had humbled himself, He could not turn away from him; He delivered him from captivity, and returned him to his throne in Jerusalem. And after King Manasseh returned to Jerusalem, he made restitutionhe removed the strange gods and the idols out of the house of God, tore down the evil altars he had earlier erected, repaired the altar of God which he had abandoned, and began to worship God again. Friend, even though King Manasseh was once a wicked king, all that changed with a disposition of contrition, when he was afflicted, and God could not but show him kindness and favour. The message of God to you is, Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and He will turn to you, show you His kindness and favour, and deliver you from the captivity of sin. Beloved, without a disposition of contrition, there really can be no repentance; and if there is no repentance, forgiveness, joy and peace cannot be dispensed by God. Only a man with a disposition of contrition can truly turn to God in repentance; a repentance that does not need to be repented of; a repentance that unlocks Gods forgiveness, joy and peace for the contrite sinner. The bible says that God opposes the proud; but shows kindness to the humble. Friend, what is your disposition concerning the sin in your life?

Let us pray!