Alright, I hope that you week has been wonderful. Mine was filled with study and teaching the Word of God. It was amazing to see Him work through His Word in the lives of the people around me. I hope that your week was very fruitful for the Lord. If not, don’t lose heart. You have a fresh chance this week to make it a productive one. This past Sunday during #theROC I was able to teach on Luke 15 about the 3 parables. This week, I am going to focus on the one son who repented. The lesson is all about repentance, forgiveness, and a new purpose in life. I pray that this will be useful to you and that the Lord will use it to bless you as you read, understand, and apply what you learn.
As way of review, the 3 parables of Luke 15 are all used by Jesus to teach one main truth; the need for and importance of repentance. The audience who listened to the teaching consisted of 1) tax collectors and sinners and 2) the Pharisees and scribes. Both of these groups were sinners yet only one group realized it and were ready to repent of their sins and follow the teachings of Christ. The other group of sinners did not see their need for repentance and so they did not repent. The son who runs away and sins openly represents the first group. The son who remained at home and appeared to be a good son yet inwardly did all the things that his brother had done (the only difference is that his were done in the secret compartment of his mind), he represented the second group of sinners who did not realize their need for repentance and did not repent. This message will focus in on what repentance is and what it looks like. I have already written a few articles on what repentance is from other passages in the Bible.
Repentance means “a change of mind that leads to a change of actions”. When a person repents, it means that he has changed his mind about who he is and about who God is. This change of mind comes through the message of the Gospel as found in the Word of God. As a result of having your mind changed, your actions follow. This causes you to turn away from sin and to turn to God. Jesus began preaching repentance in His very first sermon and preached it all throughout His 3 year ministry. His disciples also preached repentance. Let’s see what this looks like in the life of the son who ran away in Luke 15.
I. He had his mind changed about himself
This son hit rock bottom. He had believed sin’s lies and jump into its trap with both feet. As a result, he went on a downward spiral until he finally hit rock bottom, wanting to eat pig slop because he had nothing else. At that moment, he had his mind changed. He came to his senses and accepted reality as it was. He was a sinner with no way of redeeming himself. He needed help and he realized that the Father was the only one who could help him. This is something that we must all realize. We are all born sinners and because of sin’s death grip on our lives, we have no hope of rescuing ourselves. We are slaves. That is the bad news. We need to see the bad news for just how bad it really is. This leads us to come to our senses and realize that we need help. We need to be rescued. We must have our mind changed. We cannot do it on our own. We need help. God has provided a way to help us. He has done everything to rescue us. We must turn to Him. He has already come to us. We just need to turn to Him and accept what He has to offer.
This is exemplified in the life of Saul/Paul. Saul believed that he was a great person and a great servant of the Lord. Unfortunately, he did not realize that he actually was an enemy of the Lord and was fighting against Him. Saul needed to have a change of mind and that change took place on the road to Damascus. He had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and his thinking was changed. He came to his senses and realized what he was doing. His mind was changed and he turned to God for help just like the son in Luke 15. Has this ever happened to you, my dear friend? Has God ever changed your mind through His Word, changed your mind about who you really are and who He really is? If not, then you need to repent, according to 1) God 2) Jesus 3) Peter 4) Paul etc. Your actions will follow your change of mind. The son’s actions changed. Paul’s actions changed. The changes of actions came as a result of a change of mind.
II. He confessed his sins to God and to the ones he had sinned against
The word “confess” simply means to agree with someone. The son of Luke 15 agreed with God that he had sinned against Him and he agreed that he had sinned against others. He went to the Lord and confessed and he also went to the one who he had sinned against, his father. He admitted his mistakes and was ready to receive the consequences of his mistakes. If true repentance has taken place then this will be one of the results. If you try to justify your actions then you have not experienced true repentance. True repentance is seen in the fact that you know what you did was wrong, you agree with God, and that you admit what you did was wrong. You do not try to blame others or circumstances, or even your environment. You know that you are guilty and you face your guilt and own up to it. The son did not blame his actions on the dysfunction of his family or the problems within his society. He did not blame his environment, his education, his socioeconomic status his race, his religion etc. He blamed himself for his actions. The same is true with Saul/Paul. He realized who he was and admitted that he was wrong. He had sinned against God and against people and he confessed that sin. What about you, have you confessed your sins to God or have you been too busy trying to justify your sins instead of confessing? If you have sinned against others, have you gone to them and admitted what you did? If not, I have some serious doubts about the genuineness of your “repentance”.
III. He received the Father’s forgiveness
The son was ready to receive his just punishment. The Father was ready to forgive. This is a beautiful picture of what happens to us when we repent. We realize that we should pay the price for our sins yet we learn that God has already punished our sins in Christ. God wants to offer us forgiveness, not punishment. Our job is to receive what He has to offer. The son did not argue with his father’s decision. He accepted it. The son does not have to forgive himself. In fact, he cannot forgive himself. The only person who needs to forgive is the one who was sinned against. This is what I John 1:9 teaches us. If we confess our sins (agree with God that we have sinned) then He is faithful and righteous (able) to forgive us our sins. He does not stop with the forgiveness only. The next thing is that cleanses us from all of our sins. God did this for Saul/Paul too. Paul simply received God’s forgiveness. God then cleansed Paul from all of his sins.
IV. He has a new purpose in life
The son returned to the father and received a new way of life, a new purpose in life. The son had seen all that this life has to offer in the forms of the sins of the world. That is how all of us are. We are pronged to wanting those sins because of our sin nature. God offers us a new way of life, a new purpose in life. We can now walk with Him, experiencing the joys of a personal relationship with Him daily. We also receive a new purpose in life. Like Paul, we now proclaim the Gospel of Christ to the lost world around us. This is the calling that all of us have received if we have repented.
9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (I Peter 2)
What about you my dear friend, have you received a new purpose in life and are you living out that purpose on a daily basis? Are you proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel of Christ to the people around you? If this is not your burning desire then I have some serious doubts about your repentance. Maybe the Lord is speaking to you, letting you know that joining a church does not get you into heaven, getting baptized does not either. Maybe God is telling you that you need to repent of your sins and be born again so that you can experience the joy of a personal relationship with God. May the Lord help us all walk in repentance and take it to the lost and dying world around us.