MENTAL AGREEMENT WITH THE TRUTH
By Glenda Ward
Is there a particular sin you keep struggling with, repeatedly confessing, wondering why you can’t overcome it?
Does it make you feel guilty and maybe worthless that you feel confessing your sin and repenting is a negative experience for you; feeling as if nothing has happened and perhaps in turn you doubt your salvation? You are not alone. The thing that is missing, the thing that will help you get out of this repetitive cycle is genuine repentance.
In Romans 7:15 we see we need to fleshly understand what to do. Paul gives us three lessons that he learned in trying to deal with his sinful desires.
(1) Knowledge of the rules is not the answer. God’s Law makes people realize that they are sinners. Sin is real, and it is dangerous. But the Law doesn’t get rid of the sin in our life. The temptation is still there, but we have a choice. God gives us a way out. Sin (through Satan) deceives people. As in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the serpent deceived Eve by taking her focus off the freedom she had and putting it on the one restriction God had made. The thing God said she couldn’t have! Sin looks good to us precisely because God has said it is wrong. When we are tempted to rebel, we need to look at the Law of God from a wider perspective – in the light of God’s grace and mercy. If we focus on His great love for us, we will understand that He only restricts us from actions and attitudes that ultimately will harm us. The Spirit gives victory over sin (Reference Galatians 5:17, Romans 8:2).
(2) Self-determination (struggling in one’s own strength does not succeed). People find themselves, just as Paul did, sinning in ways that aren’t even attractive to them.
(3) Becoming a Christian does not stamp out all sin and temptation from one’s own life (Reference 7:22-25).
Being born again takes but a moment of faith, but becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. No one in this world is innocent; no one deserves to be saved – not the pagan who doesn’t know God’s Law, nor the people who know them and tries to keep them. We all must depend totally on the work of Christ. We must never underestimate the power of sin. The sin deep within us is our “Fleshly Nature”. The “Flesh” refers to the principle and power of sin. This is our vulnerability to sin; it refers to everything within us that is more loyal to our old way of selfish living than to God. Any Christian struggling against sin or trying to please God by keeping rules and laws without the Spirit’s help can never fight sin in their own strength. Satan is a crafty tempter, and we have an amazing ability to make excuses. Instead of trying to overcome sin with our human will-power, we must take hold of the tremendous power of Christ that is available to us. This is God’s provision for victory over sin – He sends the Holy Spirit to live in us and to give us power. When we fall, and we all will, He lovingly reaches out to help us up.
The Word of God both celebrates His perfect nature and reveals to us our faults so that we can understand our need for His Grace. All of us can relate to ourselves succumbing to sin, even though we want to honor God. But until we stand in the presence of Jesus, we will all experience this battle. The only way to win is by dying to ourselves so that Christ can live through us and by submitting to the Spirit’s overcoming power.
Merely confessing our sins may not bring us victory over a sin we keep struggling with. First John 1:9 assures us that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Jesus told His apostles to proclaim repentance for the forgiveness of sins in His name (Luke 24:17}. If we miss the significance of history’s greatest event in our repentance because we are too focused on our disappointments and problems, we in fact will not recognize Jesus when He is walking beside us as described to us in Luke 24:13 of the two disciples from the village of Emmaus. We are to remember where we have fallen from God’s grace and Truly repent. The thing that is missing, the thing that will help us get out of this repetitive cycle is genuine repentance, a mental agreement with the truth.
What is Repentance?
Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for committed sin followed by the renouncing of sin and a sincere commitment to forsake it, then walk-in obedience to Christ. It is not just feeling remorse or guilt for the sin committed, it includes a sincere recognition that sin, any sin, is bad and absolutely against our almighty God. If you have Truly repented, the result is a changed life. We return to the Lord forsaking our sinful ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:7). True repentance is essential for believers. God has predestined that we “become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). The indwelling Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin so we can confess and repent.
The way of Salvation is simple. Salvation is by faith not works. Some people believe all we have to do is believe in Jesus …this leaves out the repentance and submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, thinking this is not a part of their salvation. Others think that joining a church, being baptized, giving money, and doing good works are all that are necessary for salvation.
What does Believing in Jesus Mean?
“Believing in Jesus” encompasses so much more than our mental agreement with God’s Word …this includes an acknowledgment that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for our sins and the recognition of our own sinfulness. Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, we become sorrowful and desire a changed life. Believing in Jesus encompasses complete Trust in Him for our salvation, repentance from past sins, and surrender of our complete life to Him (Reference Luke 5:32; Peter 3:9). Understanding the Lordship of Christ is confusing for some people. They want to claim Him as their Savior but not as Lord! They desire His forgiveness and a guarantee of heaven, but they don’t want to live in His likeness, they don’t want to follow God’s instruction for living a Christian life. These people don’t want to be told how to live their life! This approach is extremely selfish and contrary to the very identity of Christ-the Son of God. Those people who are truly repentant are willing to submit to Christ and let Him lead in a new direction.
A Changed Life
After salvation, we all begin as spiritual babies in Christ, but the Lord wants us to continually grow in Him, and repentance is a large part of this process. Although we don’t understand at the moment of Salvation all that is involved at this point, the Holy Spirit works within to convict us of sin, draw us to repentance, and guide us onto a new path of obedience. If we are genuinely saved, we will never be happy or satisfied living in sin. We are of a new nature through the Holy Spirit who indwells in us. When convicted of sin our first response should be to ask our Lord and Savior for forgiveness in sorrowful repentance.
Confession is to agree with God that the sin we commit is wrong. But repentance should always be a part of that confession. We are called to live a sanctified life set apart for God and His purposes. Confession and repentance are an important part of our sanctification. We deceive ourselves if we think we will never sin. This is where confession comes in. We are to confess our sins to God. God in return helps us to put away the sin and turn back to Him in obedience.
The basic Truth is that all people are sinners by nature and by practice. At our conversion, which is our salvation, all our sins are forgiven – past, present, and future. Yet even after we become Christians, we still sin and we must confess those sins. This kind of confession is not to gain God’s acceptance, but to remove the barrier to a fellowship that our sin has put between us and God. It is difficult for many people to admit to their sin and shortcomings, even to God. It takes humility and honesty to recognize our weaknesses, but we need not fear revealing our sins to God – He knows them already. He will not push us away, no matter what we have done. Instead, He will draw us to Himself. Confession is supposed to free us to enjoy fellowship with Christ, it should clear our conscience and lighten our cares. But in reality, some Christians do not understand how it works. They feel so guilty of the sin committed that they confess the same sins over and over.
This is where True repentance comes in – believing that God wants to forgive them. God allowed His Son to die on the cross so He could pardon us of our sins. When we come to Christ accepting Him as our personal Savior, He forgives all the sins we have committed or will ever commit. We do not need to fear He will cast us out if we don’t keep our life perfectly clean. However, God does expect us to confess our sins that we do commit not because we think failure to do so will cause us to lose our salvation – our relationship with Christ is secure. Instead, we confess so we can enjoy our relationship with Christ to the maximum in fellowship and joy with Him. True confession is a commitment not to continue in that sin. When you admit and confess your sin(s) and receive Christ’s cleansing you are:
- Agreeing with God that your sin Truly was sin and that you are willing to turn from it.
- Ensuring that you don’t conceal your sins from Him and from yourself.
- Recognize your tendency to sin and rely on God’s power to overcome it.
The Holy Spirit has come upon you and one way the Holy Spirit helps Christians is by communicating Truth. Jesus is the Truth and the Holy Spirit guides believers to Him (John 16:13). Believe and enjoy a life with God now and in eternity. There is No Greater Joy!
Glenda Ward is a member of Grand View Baptist Church in McDowell County. She is the mother of five grown children. Glenda is a Christian writer/author of “Something to Think About” – weekly Christian Articles. She writes Church Programs & Bulletins, VBS Material, Christmas and Easter Programs; all material based on the KJV of the Bible. Also testing the field in tributes, individual memorial writings, etc. You can read more good Christian news from Glenda HERE.