Spiritual change

“There is joy in the presence of the angels of God when one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10).

This is more than our joy in the Lord. It’s rejoicing in heaven.

What is it about our repentance which brings such joy to the heart of our Lord?

When we speak about repentance, what are we saying? Are we saying, “I’m going to make myself a better person”?

Making myself a better person – there’s a problem with this. Our best is never going to be good enough. We fail … we fail … we fail … that’s always the result of our best efforts. Failure – that’s the story of our life. Failure – that’s where we always end up. We need more than our best efforts. We need Jesus. We need him to be our Saviour.

When we think about repentance, Jesus must always be our starting-point. Repentance is not about our finding Jesus. It’s about what happens in us when Jesus finds us.

Where does true repentance come from? Begin with “I”, and we’re caught in the trap of the Pharisees – so much about ourselves, and so little about the Lord, so caught up in our own attempts to live a good life that we fail to see that we need Jesus to be our Saviour.

Where does true repentance come from? It comes to us from the Good News  – Jesus loves us, Jesus died for us …

In Romans 1:16, we read that “the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” This is where true repentance comes from. Our lives are changed by the power of the gospel. Jesus comes to us, and we are changed – we’re never the same again. That’s not to say that we never fail our Lord – but it is to say this: the power by which we are saved is also the power by which we are kept: we are “kept by the power of God” (1 Peter 1:5).

It’s not our own efforts to keep on living a good life that keep us walking with the Lord. It’s his power! The power and the glory belong to him – forever!

What are we say to all of this? Are we to live in constant fear that our repentance will not be good enough? We need to be honest with ourselves – our repentance will never be good enough. That’s bad news – but there is, also, Good News: Jesus is good enough, he’s our perfect Saviour, “he is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25).

When we feel that we’re being drawn back into the way of living in fear – our best will never be good enough!, let’s remember this – “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of love and power and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

When fear threatens to overwhelm us, let us remember this – the Lord loves us and his power is at work in us, and let his peace reach us and bring to us real spiritual change – changed by the Lord, not by our own efforts 

When we fail, may we draw encouragement from this: God is faithful – and he is forgiving (1 John 1:9), God is faithful – and he will give us the strength that we need to live as his faithful servants (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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