As Christians it is important for us to see things the way God sees them. This can be difficult for us when God’s ways differ from those of the world and what we are used to seeing around us. For example, when someone commits a crime and goes to prison, there is an expectation that they must be rehabilitated before they can be let out again. In short, they have shown to have changed their ways and can be trusted not to re-offend. They have to show they can go back to being a productive member of society.
In the Christian life when we sin, we are required to admit to God that we’ve done wrong, ask for forgiveness and do an about-turn in our attitude and behaviour. However at this point we can often get off-track because our thinking is rooted in the world’s system and not in God’s economy.
1. Repentance is a gift from God
Rom 2: 4 God’s kindness leads you toward repentance
God is so good to us that it is He who opens the door for us to come back to Him after we have done wrong. He wants to be in relationship with us and so the sense of sorrow and regret that brings us back is from God. He is drawing us back into fellowship with Him.
2. We cannot stay on the straight and narrow on our own
Work out and fully complete your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling, self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience and watchfulness against temptation; Not in your own strength, for it is God Who is all the while at work in you, creating in you the power and desire, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (taken from Phil 2:12-13)
Doing an about-turn when we realise we have wronged God is our part, but without God’s abundant grace and enabling working in us we can be sure we cannot keep from going back to do the same thing again. This is SO important for us to understand. We CANNOT live the Christian life without repeatedly relying on God’s help to keep us from falling.
3. (This is the most important one) We don’t have to “work our way” back into God’s good graces
Psalm 103:12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Here’s the thing. Forgiveness is just that. It isn’t parole or probation like in the world’s system. We’re not let out on good behaviour. We don’t have to earn the right to get back in with God before He can accept us. He already DOES accept us. Repentance must be genuine and we need to rely on God constantly to help us stay away from our natural weaknesses having the run in our lives, but afterwards we don’t have to work to get back in with God – like a penance – Jesus death was the end of all that. Trying to get out of the dog house by being a better person is like trying to earn your salvation. It can’t be done and God won’t let you succeed! The way we are saved is the way we live the life that God wants – by grace.
Accept God’s gift of grace and forgiveness