In Jeremiah 26:13, Jeremiah is talking to the people of Judah and he says, “Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will relent of the doom that He has pronounced against you”.
As Christians, we know that we have been forgiven of our sins past, present, and future by God our heavenly Father. However, just like a father here on earth, if we disobey, there are going to be consequences. In Proverbs 3:11-12 it says, “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither detest His correction: For who the Lord loves he corrects; even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights”. Sometimes the consequence is punishment by God, sometimes it is simply having to face the effects of our decisions. Often, this is painful to go through but, just because we have the eternal love of God does not mean that we can behave any way we like and everything will be okay because you know, we’ve been forgiven. The wonderful news is that when we realize we have a specific sin in our life, we have the opportunity to address it and change our behavior. Sometimes the change takes practice and time, such as breaking a habit that is not glorifying to God or leaving a situation that goes against His word. The important thing is that we remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and when we are convicted of something, we take action.
Those of us who grew up in church are familiar with Ephesisans 6:10-17 where Paul writes about the armor of God. Obviously, we are only human and it is inevitable that we are going to sin. In this passage we are given instructions on how we can decrease the frequency of this and heighten our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. The more time we spend in God’s word in personal devotion time, in church being instructed by our pastor, and in study groups with fellow believers, the more we will understand and the more God will reveal to us. The more time we spend in sincere prayer, talking to our heavenly Father, the more we will hear His voice when we are faced with situations and decisions. We were not promised an easy life, or to suddenly become perfect overnight when we submit our lives to Christ and become Christians. What we are promised is the tools we need to live out the rest of our lives here on earth drawing closer to God and learning to be more like Him moment by moment and day by day until the time comes when we join Him in heaven.
When we do realize that there is something in our life that needs to be changed, we not only need to make the necessary adjustments to our lives but we also need to sincerely ask forgiveness. Just as a child who says they are sorry for disobeying, if they are only apologizing to get out of trouble the lesson is most likely not learned and they are bound to repeat it. There needs to be a true spirit of repentance, a sincere acknowledgement that we were wrong and that we are truly sorry and regretful for what we have done. In Psalm 51, the whole chapter is a prayer from King David asking God for forgiveness. As we read through the chapter, we can feel the anguish and the true regret David feels as he is faced with the reality of how he disobeyed God. How often do we feel that deep repentance when we have been wrong? I like to think of it this way: God loves me so much that He sacrificed His only son so that He could have a relationship with me. There is nothing so special about me that anyone I know would do such a thing. Yet God did without hesitation and Jesus willingly took that burden onto Himself so that I could be His Father’s child. How amazing and humbling is that?
If there is anything in your life that immediately comes to mind as you read this, I ask you to spend some time in prayer about it. Dig into scripture, talk to your pastor or an elder in your congregation. Seek to hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell you. I promise, there is nothing more amazing than knowing that you are walking with God and you aren’t trying to hide or reason away that “little” sin in your back pocket.