Jesus said, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’ Matthew 16:24.
I woke up yesterday morning to the Holy Spirit speaking to me about the importance of repentance and complete surrender to God. When I became a Christian over 40 years back, repentance was a big deal. Because of this, I recognized that my old life was utterly deplorable to a holy God and experienced deep repentance, which in turn led to a complete turnaround in my lifestyle. This doesn’t mean I never do anything wrong. Nor does it mean that I gave up every single thing immediately. It took time to change – some major things were immediate, other less obvious things took time to recognize. I’ve found that it’s been an ongoing journey of learning to walk in the Spirit.
Repentance was the first message of Jesus’ earthly ministry: ‘From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”‘ Matthew 4:17.
The apostle Paul said in Acts 26:20, ‘I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.’
The apostle John wrote, ‘No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning because he has been born of God.’ 1John 3:9.
In modern church life, it seems that a simple prayer to ask forgiveness and renounce past sins is all the repentance that many Christians have experienced. I say this because I see many people in church on Sundays and living secular lives through the week. Many of us haven’t realized that we have to repent and let go of everything that is not good and Godly. Lots of Christians think it’s okay to sleep around, live in de-facto relationships, club, binge-drink, be angry, bitter and unforgiving. And they think God’s okay with it. Denying self doesn’t mean giving up 70% or even 90% of my old life. It means ALL.
Living a half-life:
It’s amazing how we will fight and struggle against giving our all to the Lord, but when we do give up and surrender, our lives are so much better. Most times, the things we want to hold on to are destructive to our lives, but we can’t see it.
Sin and selfishness are very deceptive and can take many forms: anger, resentment, unforgiveness, self-justification, pride, arrogance, comfort and laziness, gossip, putting other down. Our sin-nature is very good at telling us we are justified in having these attitudes. These types of sins are inside us and not always evident to others.
Other sins are more obvious: addiction to pornography, alcohol & drugs, sexual immorality, lust, violence, and so forth. Don’t think they are not in the church – they are. If you want to know what God does not want in our lives, check out Galatians 5:19.
I watched a YouTube video of a young guy who had given his life to the Lord, but knowingly held back 3 areas (binge-drinking, drugs & partying all night). He battled with demons for a long time before he gave it all to Jesus. Only then, did he find peace and joy. Copy and paste the following link to Google to watch the video:
I am convinced that a great revival is coming soon, and repentance will be a major theme. God wants us to completely surrender to him, to save us from ourselves. God never meant for us to live with one foot in the world and one foot in heaven. He never intended for half committed people to live a Christian half-life. Jesus wants to give us abundant life:
‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy: I have come that they might have life, abundant life.’ John 10:10.
God is kind and patient:
God has an incredible amount of love for each one of us and is kind and patient (John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 145:8; Jeremiah 29:11). He is for us and not against us. More than that, he has a plan for each of our lives. This means he will give us a wonderful, abundant life if we will let him.
Why do we need to fully surrender?
When we believe, repent and surrender our lives to Christ, the Holy Spirit come to live in our hearts (Acts 2:38; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19). Paul tells the believers in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that their bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cannot co-exist with sin. I’m not talking about accidental slips, I’m talking about when God has told us to repent and surrender something and we don’t want to do it.
God’s arms are always open to take us back and to give us another chance. 1John 1:9 tells us that if confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.’