FOUR KEYS TO HEALING: #4 - Repentance
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves
and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
(II Chronicles 7:14)
Noah's message from the steps of the ark was not, "God has a wonderful plan for your life." Jeremiah was not thrown into a pit for preaching, "I'm okay; you're okay!" Daniel was not thrown into the lion's den for telling people, "Possibility think will move mountains." John the Baptist was not forced to preach in the wilderness and eventually beheaded because he preached, "Smile, God loves you." And the two prophets of the tribulation will not be killed for preaching, "God is in heaven and all is right with the world." Instead, all these prophets of God preached the same basic message, "Repent."
Repentance is the fourth key to God healing our land. It naturally follows from "seeking God." When people genuinely seek God's face, and catch a glimpse of God's holy character, they become acutely aware of their own sinfulness. When Isaiah saw the Lord in the Temple, his response was, "Woe is me, for I am ruined, because I am a man of unclean lips" (Isaiah 6:5). When Peter miraculously caught a net-full of fish, you'd think he would respond in joy and excitement, and even invite Jesus to be his new fishing partner. But realizing who Jesus was, Peter fell at His feet and said, "Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man" (Luke 5:8)
So, what is repentance? The Hebrew word for "repent" means "to turn" - turning away from self and sin, and turning to God. And, what must we repent of today? While there are certainly many things from which we must repent, I believe there are three primary sins identified in the Bible that are still relevant today...
First, we must repent of idolatry. Whenever Israel experienced revival, their kings purged the land of idolatry. They tore down high places, crushed altars, smashed idols, and burned Asherah poles. An idol is defined as anything to which we devote our highest affection and devotion in place of God. Some American idols include technology and science, leisure and entertainment, beauty and fashion, money and success, etc. Are there any idols in your life that need to be torn down and crushed?
Secondly, we must repent of immorality. Idolatry in biblical days was often accompanied by rampant immorality. Religious prostitutes and sexual orgies were common in pagan religions. On the other hand, immorality is often practiced apart from idolatry. Is immorality an issue in America? Is it an issue in your life?
And third, we must repent of indifference - complacency, apathy, and lukewarm Christianity. Christians today have become comfortable sitting in their nice homes and nice churches. And comfort easily leads to complacency. Have you become indifferent or complacent?
Genuine repentance begins with confession - an acknowledgement of my sin. Just ask any alcoholic who has struggled for years, lost a job, alienated his family, thrown away all his money, and lost his self-respect. For years, he lived in denial. Then, out of desperation, he finally attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. What is the first thing he says at his first AA meeting? "Hello, I'm Joe, and I'm an alcoholic." Honesty and confession are the first steps to healing and recovery. Perhaps, as God's children, we need to follow their example: "Hello, I'm __________ (fill in your own name), and I'm a __________ (fill in your sin)."
Until we see genuine repentance, we will never experience God's healing and revival!