‘REPENTANCE’ should be an INTEGRAL part of our LIFESTYLE
December 27 Bible Reading: Revelation Chapters 7-9
"But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts" (Rev. 9:20-21)
If there was one repetitive message that is consistent throughout the pages of the Bible from the very early days, it is the message of repentance. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned in the Garden of Eden, their eldest son Cain could not please God through his sacrifice offering (Gen. 4:5). Thereafter, God gives Cain a chance to repent (“do well”): "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it"(Gen. 4:7). However, Cain refused God’s generous offer, murdered his brother Abel, and was forever cursed as a “fugitive and a vagabond” (Gen. 4:11-12). This particular behavior of refusing to repent from wrongdoing has been described as the “way of Cain” by Jude (v.11) for our reference.
Repentance involves making a radical turn from our old ways of sin to the new way that God wants us to travel, and is a call to conversion from self-love, self-trust, and self-assertion to obedient trust and self-commitment to God. It is a change of mind that involves a conscious turning away from wrong actions, attitudes and thoughts that conflict with a godly lifestyle and biblical commands, and an intentional turning toward doing that which pleases God. In repenting, we make a complete change of direction (180° turn) toward God. When we change our mind about sin, our behavior will change naturally. In the Old Testament, God sent His prophets at various times to repent of their sins, and those who did that often showed outward evidence by tearing down idolatrous statues (Ezek. 14:6).
The above referenced passage (Rev. 9:20-21) offers an informative glimpse into the religious and moral conditions during the Tribulation period. The purpose of these plagues is to lead people to repentance, and these plagues intensify as the end approaches, but sadly they fail to produce the desired response. The unwillingness to repent despite the incredible devastation of the plagues reminds us of Pharaoh’s attitude of hardening his heart toward most of the plagues that came upon Egypt (see Exod. 7:22; 8:15; 9:7). For those people who will not repent of their sins and come to God for forgiveness, God will judge them one day. It is C. S. Lewis, who wrote: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.”
Although two-thirds of humans survived these plagues, they did not repent, but continued to bow down to demons and idols (Eph. 4:17–19). These people were living in gross sins (including murders, sorceries, sexual immorality, and thefts) that were specifically prohibited in the Ten Commandments (see Exod. 20:3–17) and other scriptural passages (Exod. 18:23; 21:8; 22:15; Gal. 5:20). It is important to note that the people who do not repent are not those who “have the seal of God on their foreheads” (v. 4; 7:2–4). So, the first step towards repentance is to receive the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts by faith (see Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 26:20).