Summary: The believer and unbeliever alike have responsibilities when it comes to dealing with sin in their life.
WHAT GOD EXPECTS WHEN WE MESS UP?
Young Johnny was reared in a fine Christian home. When he was only nine years old, his father took him into his office one day and explained the gospel message of Jesus Christ to him, and young Johnny accepted Christ as his Savior. In the years immediately following his salvation, young Johnny felt God calling him into some type of Christian service. As his adolescent years approached, young Johnny felt the peer pressure and resulting temptations. Soon, he found himself overwhelmed by them, and he gave in to the pressure to smoke, drink and experiment with drugs. What started as a stable life suddenly became very tumultuous. His emotions began to rage, as his hormones went out of control. He felt the innate desire to escape. It was not that he had an unhappy life. He had a family that cared for him, and he had more than he needed, but still that need to escape seemed to always haunt him. Finally, he decided to act upon the urge. He returned home one day from school after his parents had left for work, loaded his car with things he thought he would need for his trip, and set out on an undirected journey. Several hours later, he found himself lost, hungry, cold and out of money. Suddenly, he came to himself. He was scared and concerned over what he had left behind. He reached out to a friend he had abandoned. In the mean time, his parents had alerted the police who began a search. Not attempting to hide from the authorities, young Johnny was soon found and taken to the police station to await his parent's arrival. When they arrived, young Johnny did not know quite what to expect. They were naturally angry yet concerned. In spite of their anger, they took young Johnny back home and restored him to his position as son. Just because he rebelled against them, they did not disown him. Young Johnny's anger and restlessness did not end with that episode. Throughout his teenage years, he continued to disappoint his parents by his actions, but they continued to love him. When in his early twenties, young Johnny again felt the call of God he had neglected during the previous years. He recommitted his life to God and accepted the call into full-time Christian ministry. Now not only had his earthly parents accepted him back into the fold but his heavenly Father as well.
Jesus tells a similar story, a story that is very familiar to most people. He tells of a father who had two sons. The younger son approached his father one day demanding his share of the inheritance. According to custom, the older son received two-thirds of the estate with the younger receiving one-third. It was quite unusual to divide the estate before the parent's death, but it was not illegal. It was done on rare occasions just as it is quite commonly done now before death.
After receiving his share, the younger son converted it into cash and set out for a far country. He, like young Johnny, must have felt the need to get away from his background; the need to escape. When in the distant country, the younger son squandered all his cash. He had many friends while he had money. He could show them a good time. But when his money was gone, so were his friends. In addition to the poverty he now found himself in, there was a severe famine in the land. Since there was little in the way of a "safety net" during this time, he soon found himself in need. So destitute was he that he hired himself out to a citizen of the country who in turn sent him to feed his pigs. Since the younger son was a Jew, this was the most reprehensible job he could ever have acquired. His destitution had driven him to this point. He had hit bottom. So hungry was he, that he desired to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating. The carob tree of the area produced a pod used for fodder. The poor sometimes ate them.
Out of such dire striates, the young man came to his senses, just like young Johnny. The phrase literally means he came to himself or he repented. It was a turning point in his life. He thought of the family he had left where his father's servants had more than he now did. They had food to spare, and here he was starving to death. He decided to return home. His plan was to approach his father, tell him he had sinned against him and heaven, another term for God, and beg his father to restore him not as a son but as a servant. He knew he was no longer worthy to be called his father's son. Legally, he had no claim of sonship any more, and morally he was unfit to be a son. After formulating his plan, he left for home.