Summary: Man should follow the steps toward genuine repentance.
CHANGING ONE’S DIRECTION IN LIFE
Building a relationship with God begins with the acceptance of the fact that our sinfulness destroyed that relationship with Him. Man’s sinfulness is the barrier that keeps us from having a personal and fulfilled relationship with God. Therefore one’s sinfulness must be dealt with utmost humility on the part of man and forgiveness and grace on the part of God. Man should acknowledge his sins, repent, and seek God’s cleansing through forgiveness.
Today, we are going to look at the second step toward building a relationship with God, which is “Changing One’s Direction in Life.” Our text is found in Luke 15:11-24 and as we read this, I want you to find the answers to the following questions: What is repentance? Why do we need to repent? How can we show genuine repentance? How does God respond to a genuine repentant person? (Read the text.)
The parable of the prodigal son illustrates to us the graciousness and love of God to the rebellious, proud, and selfish person. It shows us how God is so open to any returning and repentant person.
1. What does repent mean?
• To “repent” means “to change one’s mind.” Furthermore, it is a change of one’s mind that leads to a change of behavior.
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" "Don’t collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely-- be content with your pay." (Luke 3:8-14)
• Spiritually speaking, repentance is to change one’s behavior from wrongdoing to righteousness. The younger sons showed repentance by going back to His Father. So when we say we are repenting, we are actually changing one’s direction in life. If we use to live a life of vices, immorality, rebellion, and skepticism, in repentance we turn around and start a new direction in life, normally, to God.
2. Why do we need to repent?
Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ’Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. (Luke 15:11-16)
• Our passage says that the younger son asked for his inheritance. Normally, the younger son receives 1/3 and the oldest receives 2/3 of the inheritance. It was perfectly legal for the younger son to ask for his share of the estate and even to sell it, but it was certainly not a very loving thing on his part. It was as though he were saying to his father, “I wish you were dead!”
• Why did he ask? The younger son dreamed of “enjoying” his freedom far from home and away from his father and older brother. He wanted to have his own way so he rebelled against his own father and broke his father’s heart. He initiated a breakdown of the solidarity of the family but discovered that life in the far country was not what he expected. His resources ran out, his friends left him, a famine came, and the boy was forced to do for a stranger what he would not do for his own father—go to work! In short, he suffered the consequences of his wrong decision and rebellion.
• A lot of people today are suffering the consequences of their wrong choices in life. We are always heading for trouble whenever we value things more than people, pleasure more than duty, and distant scenes more than the blessings we have right at home. Our texts show God’s way of emphasizing what sin really does in the lives of those who reject the Father’s will.