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The Repentance Test (Revelation 2)

When John was on the isle of Patmos, many churches had great works of piety and rich faith to show, and Jesus never made light of any of this. But He still found cause to say, “Repent,” in most cases. Does our theology, our personal thinking about God, make room for God to put His finger on some issue and say, “Repent”? Some of us look back to a time when we formerly repented as evidence of God’s grace, but the proof that we know God today is that our heart still has a posture of repentance. It simply means we continually turn away from sin and run to embrace God. He “will not despise” a “broken, contrite heart” (Psalm 57:17), one that is ready to repent when the Spirit convicts and the Word reveals our need.

We do not prove our commitment to Christ by “doing” acts of repentance; repentance is simply the experience of responding with a surrendered heart to all Jesus has done for us. When our hearts yield to His will, repentance becomes our firsthand experience as He transforms us.

God will not force anyone to repent. We do nothing to merit favor from God, but as He draws all men to Himself, we must “submit” in order to experience salvation. Jesus said He had actively extended the call to repent to the false prophetess Jezebel, allotting her time to respond. But the Lord’s final, sobering assessment was that, “she does not want to repent of her immorality” (Revelation 2:21). How many heavenly treasures are freely available in Christ but remain unknown to many, not because they cannot repent, but because they do not want to repent? This applies to the world but may also speak to us saints, when we slow down the progress of the Lord in our lives, loving where we are more than where God wants to take us. Yesterday’s triumphs can easily blind us to the things right in front of us that we need to overcome.

Many factors, like fear and self-preservation, can produce a short-lived season of reforming our ways. But only the power of God through faith in Jesus makes us a new creature with a new heart. Only all-surpassing love for Jesus results in a long-term lifestyle of repentance. Still, even sincere believers may lapse into hard-heartedness by not listening to the Holy Spirit when He prompts, convicts, and reasons with us. If we neglect the treasure of His Word and the gift of prayer, hard-heartedness is already underway. Scripture says to every human being, “If you hear His voice today, harden not your heart.” Father, we ask that You would speak and raise to life many who are spiritually dead, and awaken every sleeping Christian, even if I am one of them!

Alex Mack

Teaching Pastor

The Rock Church

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