Summary: The eighth article of faith of the Church of the Nazarene. Speaks to the change in attitude of our current postmodernist society and our nation as a whole and stresses the unchanging standards of our God.
This morning, we are going to move to our eighth Article of Faith, which is:
There was a man that was about to paint his house. Being the frugal person that he was, he only bought 5 gallons of paint. Although he knew that he couldn’t finish the job with 5 gallons, he decided to thin the paint with water. He thinned and thinned and finally the job was done. A few hours later, a big black cloud showed up over the house. It rained and rained and of course, washed all the paint off the house. Just then, the man heard a voice coming from the cloud that said: "Repaint and thin no more."
Yes. I am aware of how bad that joke was. Sometimes, you just have to use what you’re given. Now, back to repaintence. I’m sorry, repentance.
Here is the description of this 8th tenet of our faith:
We believe that repentance, which is a sincere and thorough change of the mind in regard to sin, involving a sense of personal guilt and a voluntary turning away from sin, is demanded of all who have by act or purpose become sinners against God. The Spirit of God gives to all who will repent the gracious help of penitence of heart and hope of mercy, that they may believe unto pardon and spiritual life.
I believe that this is one of the most under-used facts of Christianity in today’s era. We have been so afraid of not being able to reach people for Christ that we have almost exclusively been concentrating on God’s love for us that we have nearly taken repentance out of our vocabulary. In fact, in our culture, the whole idea of repentance is being systematically removed from our society. In the shows that we watch and the psychologists that we listen to, we are being told that our kids aren’t really doing wrong. We are supposed to be supportive of them no matter what the behavior is. The pendulum has shifted from one extreme of hellfire and damnation to one of complete surrender to our base natures. Every selfish desire is not only acceptable, but encouraged. Because of this shift, many young people in our society have little respect for others or for themselves, for that matter.
In essence, our society now wants continuous forgiveness and grace without the hassle or inconvenience of repentance. Ideas like surrender and repentance are no longer popular. It is directly linked to our society’s feeling that they are automatically owed everything. If someone does harm to someone else that they love, their thought process is no longer that they need to ask for forgiveness. Instead, the person that they wronged is expected to forgive them just because they are a loved one.
Imagine this: let’s say you find out your spouse is having an affair. Not only do they admit it, but they want that relationship to continue and want you to stay happily married to them. How’s that going to go over?
You see, the idea of unconditional love is a romantic fairy-tale. God does offer His love to everyone, regardless of who they are, but there are conditions for the outpouring and outcome of that love, and repentance is at the very heart of those conditions.
Repentance is a very biblical idea. You cannot receive forgiveness from God without repentance. There is a verse we know quite well that says this very plainly (2 Chronicles 7:14):
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
The first word in that verse is the most important one. The word ‘if’ tells us that forgiveness is conditional. What is it conditional upon. You see, repentance has several parts attached to it. Too often, we just define the word without including its whole meaning in context. I want to look at the different parts of repentance that are contained within the verse that we just read.
The first thing that makes up repentance is humility. It requires humility to admit that you are wrong. Have you ever met someone that just cannot seem to admit they are wrong? Well, we have a whole world of them. Things that the Bible plainly and firmly say that are wrong in God’s sight, we now find acceptable. It’s okay to cheat on your taxes because the government steals from us and besides, they don’t spend the money wisely. People consistently steal from their workplaces simply because they can afford the loss and won’t ever notice that it’s gone. Co-habitation is accepted as the norm now, even in Christian homes. And it is getting to the place where we may not even be able to preach that homosexuality is wrong in God’s eyes, or we may go to prison. It’s not any one sin. It is all of them. We refuse to admit that we are wrong. We have put ourselves in the same place as the spouse that insists on having his mistress and his wife at the same time. It’s a complete lack of humility before our God. Psalm 32:5 says it perfectly: