Note: This is going to be a work in progress, a fluid sharing type message that is going to have many parts to it after it's all said and done.
So ... here is part one for y'all to think about and mull over and provide feedback on.
What is it? How do we do it? What does God actually expect from us? I mean, really? Do we find us some sackcloth and sprinkle ashes on our heads or have someone put an ashen cross on our foreheads and then we go and cry a bit and shed some tears so that God knows we’re REALLY sorry and we’re not kidding? How does He know when we’re serious about anything? What does He accept, and what does He reject? Why can some people confess something or just simply stop doing something, and they walk away happy and free, and why do others moan and groan over a period of weeks or months, maybe years in some cases, and there’s simply no change to be had and they never seem to “get there”?
There’s a Scripture in Hebrews that tells us that Esau “found no place for repentance even though he sought it diligently with many tears” (Hebrews 12:17). There’s a lot of people being confused by that Scripture because they’re under the impression that Esau couldn’t even “cry himself” into a true state of repentance. Actually what it says is that Esau couldn’t get Isaac to relent from having given Jacob the double portion blessing, no matter how much Esau was crying and pleading with his father. What was done, was done and couldn’t be undone. Esau had sold his birthright for some grub, there was a cut-off point and that was it. Actions couldn’t be undone and the resulting words couldn’t be unsaid.
Just as a side note in case you were wondering.
There’s those who say repentance means to “turn from something and walk the other way”.
Certainly there’s truth in that statement.
For example, in Corinth the temple prostitutes would shave their heads as they performed their duties to the “goddess”, and to have a shorn head as a woman meant you could be associated with being a prostitute. That was abhorrent to Paul and so he instructed the believers to do the exact opposite. To distinguish themselves from such shameful acts. That meant he wanted the women there to grow their hair long and wear a covering.
We have a saying in German; “doppelt gemoppelt hält besser”. That means if you double up, the result is twice as strong. Fortification. Why use one rope when you can use two? Why one coat of paint when two will make sure the job is done, and done right? So I can understand why Paul would follow the thought of why just grow long hair if you can cover it too so there’s no doubt whatsoever who and what you stand for? As a reminder to oneself and to others?
Matter of fact, Paul was a real stickler when it came to “Not only … BUT …” The more I read his letters, the more I marvel at his integrity. Willing to never eat meat if it was going to make weaker a brother fall away from Jesus. Willing to get his name removed from the Book of Life if it meant his Israelite brethren would remain in it. Willing to work as a tent maker when he, out of all people, because of the miracle working power that followed his travels, could just have easily and rightfully kept his focus on that alone instead of having to work with his bare hands. Paul knew his rights. He knew his freedom. And he laid it all down, every last bit, for the sake of Jesus and the Gospel.
Unbelievable. And, I’m actually wondering if Paul’s integrity and said miracle working power were in any way connected. Correction, I’m not wondering. I know they were. I also know that much of our lack of power today as believers has to do with our lack of integrity in so many areas of our lives. But, I digress.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!