This is something the Lord laid on my heart recently and it took me by surprise and really opened my spiritual eyes to something I’d been doing that was hindering me and dishonoring God’s grace.
I’d done something wrong and I was quickly convicted in my spirit – I can’t remember exactly what it was but it was something that by the world’s standards – wouldn’t even be a big deal. I knew better so – out of habit, as soon as I felt the conviction, I prayed to seek forgiveness. I remember saying a quick prayer under my breath as I sat in front of the computer, with the TV on, barely closing my eyes and rushing my words…then I went right back to whatever it was I was doing before. Which is why I found myself later that day doing the same exact thing I’d done early and prayed about. So again, I was convicted and got ready to seek forgiveness — except this time, God stopped me.
He asked, “Are you repenting or, apologizing?”
That stopped me in my tracks…I hadn’t actually thought about it. I didn’t even consider there was a difference. So, God explained to me the meaning of the word REPENT:
1. To feel remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do; be contrite.
2. To feel such regret for past conduct as to change one’s mind regarding it: repented of intemperate behavior.
3. To make a change for the better as a result of remorse or contrition for one’s sins.
So, in context here – if I was repenting for something I should be so remorseful (deeply filled with regret over what has been done) that it causes me to change my mind regarding that behavior/action and make a change in my actions for the better. Whenever we are truly sorry for something we’ve done – we genuinely go out of our way not to do whatever it is we’ve done to offend again.
However, sometimes – we tend to apologize for our sins, rather than repent. Instead of acknowledging what we’ve done wrong and that it is wrong and changing our mind and behavior for the better, we give a generally apology for our behavior and ways without having any type of change in mind or behavior. This is how it becomes possible to get up from prayer and do the exact same thing again!
Apologize is defined as:
1. To make excuse for or regretful acknowledgment of a fault or offense.
2. To make a formal defense or justification in speech or writing.
I had to admit, there were many times, I thought I’d be repenting – and I was simply apologizing. I wasn’t changing my mind and behavior after the fact – I wasn’t even attempting to. I was simply abusing the grace of the cross by allowing my flesh to give me an excuse to act in ways contrary to the Holy Spirit. What’s worse, I’d cloaked it in false humility by calling it repentance, knowing I was just going to do it again.
God showed me how mindless and generic my “prayers of repentance” were. I’d say a quick “First forgive me for my sins…”and rattle off a list of standard sins that I figured I did regularly. Empty words at best. Then I’d go and find myself doing that very thing I’d just “repented” for without even blinking! Then I wondered why there was no change…no power…no “exceedingly abundant, above and beyond” life in the full as Jesus promised. I was still drinking milk, I hadn’t even grasped the most basic principle of the faith yet – disciplining my flesh – and here I was trying to teach others to come to repentance.
For the first time in a long time I actually repented, instead of apologizing – making excuses or defending my behavior with empty words/promises. I repented for the things that I deemed my “common sins” and changed my mind regarding them. I am learning to walk in the truth that I am filled with the same Spirit as Christ and therefore I can do the things He did…greater things…. Even overcoming my flesh and renewing my mind, through Christ, so that I may come to true repentance and not be a slave to sin in any form. Rather than making excuses for my sins by blaming my flesh, I empower the Spirit to do His work by agreeing with God’s word – that I am more than a conqueror through Christ, nothing is too hard for God and I have died to sin and was raised with Christ, in righteousness! It is by His grace that I am saved and his mercies are new and fresh each day!
It’s up to us to accept it —- but we must first come to repentance in order to receive the forgiveness that comes with His amazing grace.
God welcomes us to come before His throne with a heart of true repentance so He can open transformed away from that harmful behavior and towards our Him Who has the gift of life!
He is a good and faithful Father who promises GREAT things for all of His children!
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” Proverbs 28:13
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
In Your Journal
Be honest, have you been repenting or apologizing? What are your “common sins”, the sins that you find yourself committing the most? Do you think you are repenting for them and changing your behavior and mind about the behavior? If not, what’s holding you back? Explain how you came to this conclusion.
Spend some time with God in prayer as the Spirit leads.
If you are reading this and you’ve never accepted Christ as your Savior, or you’ve done so before but you know you haven’t been living according to His word, I ask you today to make the choice now to give your life to Him (or back to Him) by asking Him into your heart and accepting His salvation for you. Click the link below to visit the Joyce Meyer website with a short prayer and further follow up information that will help you get closer to Christ after accepting Him…and for those who do make this decision, congratulations!!! Not only are the angels shouting in heaven, God is pleased and happy to have you back home and He has great things in store for your life! Believe Him and trust Him!
Once you do, get into a bible based church that will help you grow and surround yourselves with friends and family who live the word of God throughout their daily lives. Invest in an easy to understand bible like the New International Version and devotionals to help you start to study the word of God daily and watch your relationship with Christ grow and your life change. If you don’t know where to turn for help in this, feel free to inbox me and I’ll be happy to help! God bless!