Tuesday, September 18, 2012

One mark of true Christianity

Two weeks ago in church we explored the two chief marks of true Christianity: faith in Christ alone and a life which is increasingly transformed by Christ's grace.  Part of that transformation which signals true new birth in Christ is biblical repentance.  When many Christians think of repentance, they often either think of the moment of initial repentance when they first heard the gospel, felt sorrow for their sin and turned in faith to Christ, or they think of the sorrow they feel when they commit 'big' sins, like adultery or murder.  Regular, daily, hourly repentance is often very rare in our lives.  Yet, when John the Baptist declared in Matthew 3:8, "Bear fruit in keeping with repentance," he wasn't just talking about large-scale repentance.  The fact that he followed his statement up by speaking of repentance in the midst of very mundane, daily activities like not being greedy in the face of others in need and being content with what God gives us and treating others with kindness (Luke 3:10-14), the Bible shows us that repentance in Jesus' Kingdom is to be a lifestyle which defines us.

The book Gospel Transformation challenges us with the following exercise:

"The following list may help us recognize that repentance needs to be a lifestyle.  Work through it slowly, taking a few moments to meditate on and pray through each item.  Spend more time on those items of particular relevance to you:

  • Lack of prayer
  • Making excuses
  • Desiring to be first/Have my way
  • An unthankful/discontented heart
  • Not denying myself
  • Not listening to others
  • Being harsh with my spouse and children
  • Rarely encouraging others
  • Fearing the opinions of others
  • Not sharing the gospel with joy
  • Wasting time
  • Finding refuge in work
  • Speaking evil of those who oppose me
  • Directing attention toward myself
  • Thinking unkind thoughts of others; assuming the worst of others, not the best
  • Using my success to build a reputation
  • Complaining under the slightest hardships
  • Covering my sin with feeble apologies or trying to make up for it
  • Considering myself more highly than I ought
  • Lusting for what God has not given me
  • Not challenging evil in my world; indifference
  • Excessive use of money for personal pleasure and comfort
  • Passing judgment on others
  • Thinking that someone else needs the gospel more than I do
  • Bragging about myself rather than about Christ
  • Anger with those at odds with my agenda
  • Treating my children and neighbors as if they are bigger sinners than me
The conclusion of the matter should be clear: repentance should be a lifestyle because for us sinning is a lifestyle."  

Praise God for His great grace to us in Christ!

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