Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Value of Repentance #JesusFollowers

It has been obvious to every serious mind, in all ages, that the will of the gracious Power that gave us our being, must be the rule and guide of the actions of His creatures, so far as they can discover it.

This is a natural obligation and deference which we owe to, and cannot but think it a duty and our happiness to pay to, that wisdom and goodness of our Maker to which we are so much and so continually indebted, and by whose power we are every moment, sustained.

We cannot conceive that He Who is the most perfect goodness could have any other aim in creating reasonable beings, than to make them happy suitable to their Natures. And we gather from this that it must be our duty to follow this great direction and example, and to contribute to the happiness of each other to the utmost extent.

And in attending further to what we can know of the perfections of our Maker, of His will concerning us, and especially in our obeying His primary design of creation and rule of duty to us, we are unavoidably led to see the fitness and the necessity of restraining our passions and appetites, of giving up our own ease and taking pains for the good of others, and of learning what is right, and fair, and just, and pure, and kind, and holy, and virtuous.

And, by doing this, we frame our conduct so that we may approve ourselves to Him Who placed us here for a short time, but Who has further views for us, which extend to endless time, if we seek not to defeat His designs.

But we are too often drawn to do wrong, to forget our duty to God and man, and to disturb the government and violate the laws of He Who made us, and by doing this, we lay a foundation of lasting misery to ourselves; because there can be no real happiness in opposition to His will; and we have reason to dread the consequences of His displeasure, while we violate His laws.

For He has made us capable of governing ourselves by that rule of life and knowledge of His will, of what is good, and just, and pure, with which He has made us acquainted.

And we find that, by attending to or resisting those motives to our duty which He lays before us, we have it in our power to choose and pursue that virtue and holiness which he has prescribed, or the contrary; our conscience tells us, that while we act upon evil principles, and cherish unholy and unrighteous dispositions, we must be odious to Him, the object of His dislike; and what He dislikes must be miserable.

It is therefore matter of unspeakable comfort and joy to be made acquainted with the Gospel call of Repentance, the glad tidings from Heaven, made known indeed to mankind from the first, but in a special manner delivered by Jesus and his apostles, declaring the forgiveness of all past offenses, and a restoration to the divine favor, to all who turn to God in true repentance, and bring forth works worthy of this repentance.

But we must be careful not to make things worse by abusing God’s mercy, and turn the remedy for sin into an excuse for continued sinning. For many sin and repent, and repent and sin again; their attitude and conduct remaining the same and unchanged.

This has arisen from a perversion of the Gospel, and inattention to the doctrine of repentance delivered within it.

For Repentance signifies a change of mind, together with a secret condemnation of ourselves for past misconduct, which points out its durable nature.

We are to be followers of Jesus; to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, renouncing all ungodliness and worldly lusts, all the hidden ways of dishonesty; to be holy in all our conversation, fruitful in every good work, perfecting holiness in the name of God.

May you take comfort that you have truly repented, that you are the disciples of Jesus. For what is Heaven itself, but it an enlightened mind, a purified conscience, a sanctified benevolent heart, full of God and good works, desiring earnestly nothing but to please Him and promote the common happiness. And whoever possesses these attitudes already has a foretaste of Heaven's bliss.

All may know their inner attitudes; how far they love and prefer what is pious, honest, sober, just, charitable; whether their chief delight is in the thought of God and his goodness to them, and their most prevailing desire to know him more, that they may still love and serve him better, and live before him forever.

And happy are all those who have attained these pious, holy, and virtuous attitudes, or who are in earnest seeking to attain them! Their lives will be pleasant, and their end peace.

(Adapted from a 1778 sermon by Rev. Theophilus Lindsey)

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