Hate Evil (Psalm 97:10)
Recognize God’s awesome holiness (Revelation 4)
Repent completely (Ezra 9-10)
It all ties together. We cannot simply go about our day and occasionally offer a penitent prayer for the “little mistake” that we fell into. We rationalize and excuse instead of repenting and seeking change.
For a while I was in a habit of soul-searching for areas needing confession and I would pray through my offenses, even seeking out scripture to arm myself for future temptation. But, how often, if ever, has my sin driven me to my knees, physically flat on my face before God crying out for His undeserved forgiveness?
I need that perspective. Hate sin and repent of it genuinely and passionately. Ezra shows us how it’s done. Torn robe, hair pulled out, on his knees, outstretched hands (Ezra 9:3-5):
As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled. 4 Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered around me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. 5 And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my cloak torn, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God
His repentance is physically undeniable. His emotions overwhelm him with tears, regret, sorrow. Not just a little internal battle, this is all out, external, visible war. His repentance shows an obvious spiritual angle as well as he clearly verbalizes his faith in God, “And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this.”
God is our Savior, we are sinners. Repentance needs to happen. Initial repentance leads to salvation, continued repentance leads to greater fellowship and sanctification.
However, I also notice that it isn’t just a personal, penitent outpouring. He gets up and takes action. Gathers people around, makes big changes. Over 100 people ended up getting divorced! That will carry lifelong ramifications. That’s taking a stand for obedience, and recognizing that their marriages had been a blatant act of sin against God’s clear command. Am I willing to remove sin from my life in such a visible, public way? Rarely is our sin a private matter, and repentance might at times need a public venue as well.
Dear God, give me that clear view of Your Holiness that stirs my heart to repent in a distinct turning from what is wrong. Help me to hate that sin that robs what should be Yours. Help me not to be blind to my sin or try to harbor it. I want to follow you unhindered and be ready for service without baggage. Continue Your work in my heart, dear Lord! ~Amen