Have you ever seen the Lord change people's minds?
Repentance means to change your mind.
We think we convince people sometimes into knowing the Lord, accepting the Lord, accepting a doctrine, but, it really doesn't work that way, does it? The Bible says God grants repentance. Proverbs 21:1 is a good scripture reference, among others.
Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of Jehovah as the watercourses: He turneth it whithersoever he will.
God is the only one that the Bible gives credit for being sovereign; the devil has no sovereignty. God works all things after the council of His own will; He doesn't council with us about what He wants to do - right? A man can receive nothing except it come from heaven, the Bible says. Proverbs 21:1 says the king's heart is in the hand of the Lord as the watercourses or as the channels, He turneth it whithersoever He will. In other words, God can turn a person's heart any way He wants to turn it; and He did that with us. We didn't choose Him, Jesus said; He chose us. Blessed is the man that thou choosest and cause to approach unto thee. God causes us to approach Him. Before approaching Him, we really just wanted to go our own way and do our own thing, but the Lord by His mercy and grace gave us this gift to come. It's such an awesome gift. For instance, the Gentiles didn't come to God for thousands of years, right? Why did the Gentiles come to God after thousands of years? The Lord chose them. And what did God do when He did choose them?
Acts 11:18 And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life.
It's very important that we understand this; otherwise we'll be trusting in our own works and see an awful lot of failure. There are several reasons for this. God generally just backs up and waits as long as we are doing our works, and when we give up and put our trust in Him, His power is there.
Repentance has to be granted by God. Otherwise, people would just go their own way; because we are just what we are. It takes God from the outside to put something in us to cause us to be something that we are normally not. God's grace, which is unmerited favor, grants repentance. When we find lack in ourselves, or lack in our ability, or lack in our will-power, or lack in anything, we can go to God and He will take care of it for us. David prayed many prayers asking for help, such as in Psalm 119. David countedon God to turn his heart in the direction he wanted it to go.
Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: Oh let me not wander from thy commandments.
Psalm 119:17-18 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live; So will I observe thy word. (18) Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.
Psalm 119:25-29 My soul cleaveth unto the dust: Quicken thou me according to thy word. (26) I declared my ways, and thou answeredst me: Teach me thy statutes. (27) Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: So shall I meditate on thy wondrous works. (28) My soul melteth for heaviness: Strengthen thou me according unto thy word. (29) Remove from me the way of falsehood; and grant me thy law graciously.
Psalm 119:31-37 I cleave unto thy testimonies: O Jehovah, put me not to shame. (32) I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. (33) Teach me, O Jehovah, the way of thy statutes; And I shall keep it unto the end. (34) Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; Yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. (35) Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; For therein do I delight. (36) Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, And not to covetousness. (37) Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken me in thy ways.
David had faith in the Lord; this included the power and the sovereignty of God to change his mind and his heart and put in him the will he needed.
We're told the Lord works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. If our faith is towards the Lord to change us, instead of us picking up our own bootstraps, as the world says, we'll have some victory. If not, we are going to fail consistently,because we have faith in ourselves. For example, Peter was sure he would not deny the Lord, but the Lord turned and told him, Before the cock crows you're going to deny me three times. Peter was self-confident; he wasn't God-confident. The Lord told him that Satan has desired to sift him as wheat, but the Lord prayed for him that his faith wouldn't fail him. Peter wasn't operating in faith, he was operating in self-confidence. You could see David's faith in the Lord; he had faith in the Lord to draw him, keep him, deliver him from sin, and to put in him a will and desire that belonged there. His faith was in the Lord. David's faith certainly wasn't in himself. Peter's faith was in himself and that's why he fell; he needed to fall. He needed to be a failure so that he would learn that lesson. Look at 1 Chronicles 29 (this is a prayer of David too). It's amazing how we usually look at people in the Old Testament as having less light than people in the New Testament, because we know that they lived under types and shadows and really didn't know the revelation of those types/shadows that we do now. But David, as far as I can see, almost lived a New Testament life with the Lord, because he understood the sovereignty of God and depended upon God for his grace to be who he was. The following is a prayer of David concerning the offering of the temple (when they were taking up offerings to build the temple):
1 Chronicles 29:10-14 Wherefore David blessed Jehovah before all the assembly; and David said, Blessed be thou, O Jehovah, the God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. (11) Thine, O Jehovah, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Jehovah, and thou art exalted as head above all. (12) Both riches and honor come of thee, and thou rulest over all; and in thy hand is power and might; and in thy hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. (13) Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. (14) But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
Jesus said, All power in heaven and earth has been given unto me. If we need power, where do we have to get it? We don't have any power. Jesus Himself said that He was nothing without the Father; He couldn't do anything without the Father. This is certainly true about us. Our power comes from God by grace and in most cases it has to come because of our faith. We believe God has delivered us from sin through Jesus Christ; we believe God has delivered us from the curse through Jesus Christ; we believe these things. God gives us back to do what is right. We need to get our strength from the Father. Did you catch the "willingly" part of the 14th verse? He gave them this will. Anyplace we lack we can go to the Father and He will help us; He will give us grace to will His will.
Jesus said he who the son sets free is free indeed. Do you know how He really sets us free? Do you know what freedom is? Freedom is the ability or lack of restraint from doing anything you want to do. However, when you're walking in the lusts of your flesh you can't do anything you want to do; you can't get away with it and you don't have the ability. You're limited by nature; you're limited by physical circumstances; you're limited by gravity. You just can't do anything you want to do. But in this process of the Lord working in you to will and to do of His good pleasure, He's able to put His will in you. If you really want His will, He can put it in you. When God is done with this process (of putting His will in you), then you get to do what you want to do, because you want to do what He wants to do. And nobody stops God from doing what He wants to do - He works all things after the council of His own will. Daniel said nobody restrains His hand. You're free because He who the Son sets free is free indeed. So if you really want to be free you have to ask God to put His will in you. And when you read the Word, you've got to repent, meaning change your mind. If your desire is according to this Word, you're going to have your desires, and they will all be good desires.
You know why we are not free? It's because there is a war going on in us. Between the outer man and the inner man, they both want their way. Galatians Chapter 5 talks about the flesh lusting against the spirit and the spirit lusting against the flesh; they are at war and are totally contrary. The Bible also says that the outer man is decaying and the inner man is being renewed, while we look not at the things that are seen but at the things that are not seen. In other words, if we get our eyes set on what the Word says about us, even though we don't see it in the physical, God is going to bring it to pass. And the outer man is going to be dying and the inner-man is going to be renewed. God's plan is for the inner man to take over. He's like the Israelite who goes into the promise land and puts to death the Canaanite and takes his house. Well, we are an Israelite's house. This process is a process of repenting, of reading his Word and saying, Okay, Lord, you're right and I'm wrong. I let your thoughts be my thoughts. Like Jesus said, have the faith of God. We want God's thoughts to be our thoughts. If God's thoughts are your thoughts, then you are free, because nobody restrains God's will. Now, people restrain God's "wishes" sometimes. Have you ever heard this verse? "God is not willing that any should perish". That's not quite right. This is in the King James, but not in the ancient manuscripts. The word there in that verse is "wishing" or "intending" in the Numeric. If God weren't "willing" for anyone to perish, no one would perish. But He is not "wishing" that any should perish. God is longsuffering to you. He's talking to Christians, not the world. God wants all of His people to repent and He is not "wishing" that any of His people perish. But if He weren't "willing" for any of them to perish, none would. The fact is, we are on the verge of a great falling away because the Bible says so. And in a form, we are in the midst of a great falling away right now. It's important that we understand that God granted us repentance - it was a free gift. And it wasn't really necessary that He give it to us; He could have given it to somebody else. We should fear the Lord. If you understand the sovereignty of God, you'll fear the Lord. Look at Romans 2:1.
Romans 2:1 Wherefore thou art without excuse, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest dost practice the same things.
Notice that it mentions the plural -things. He's not saying you're doing the same thing that you are judging this person for. This is very important.
Romans 2:2-4 And we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against them that practice such things. (3) And reckonest thou this, O man, who judgest them that practice such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? (4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
This is why we shouldn't judge. It's because we may not be doing the same thing we are judging someone for, but that's not the way the law works. You break one part of the law and you're a lawbreaker. If you're judging somebody else who has broken part of the law and you consider them not worthy of God's forgiveness because they broke some part of the law, God's going to judge you the same way. Want proof? Go to James 2:8.
While you are going there I might also remind you that Paul reminded us in 1 Corinthians 5:6, that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, and, put out the leaven from among you. He was talking about outward moral disobedience or willful disobedience, and he told the church that there should be at least one among them that is spiritual enough to judge between the brethren and people who were in this outward, willful, moral disobedience, and that they should be separated from the church. So he's not necessarily talking about the kinds of sins we do. We've all failed, haven't we? Be careful that when you talk about sin, you draw a line between willful disobedience and failure. Because for failure, the blood of Jesus covers it; a person who wills to do good and does it not, then it's no more him that does it, but the sin that dwells in him (Romans 7). But if we sin willfully, after that we receive the knowledge of the truth, there remains no sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment which shall devour the adversaries. The Lord is saying that if one of His children sins willfully, in other words, they know it is sin and they're going to do it anyway, then they are doing it with their will, then there is judgment and condemnation against that kind of a sin. But the Apostle Paul himself was giving us his experience of failing the Lord and not knowing what to do because he wanted to serve the Lord and please the Lord. He was lamenting his inability to serve the Lord, and to be obedient to the Lord, and he was failing. Then he got this revelation; that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. And who will deliver me from the body of this flesh? He said I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. He got a revelation. He said, If the good that I would do, I do not, and the evil which I would not, that I do, then it's no more I that do it but the sin that dwells in me. God starts separating the sin from you when your will is against the sin. But when your will is for the sin, He judges you. And the Church should know this, but they group all sin in the same category. This is false and dangerous. It's inevitable that you will get judged when it's willful disobedience, because He's a good Father. You should do it with your children, too, if you are a good parent. You wouldn't let them get away with willful disobedience. You hate your child, the Bible says, if you do that. So He does not let willful disobedience go by (Hebrews 10:26); he doesn't want us to either. Well, in the Church it's the same way. The leadership is not supposed to let willful disobedience go by. 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 is a really good example of that. But concerning other things, concerning failures in the Church, of which there are many, because we are dealing with the outer man - still, he gives us some advice here:
James 2:8-9 Howbeit if ye fullfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: (9) but if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors.
In other words, you've got to love your neighbors just as much as you love yourself. You can't judge him any differently than you would judge yourself. Do you see the point he is getting at here?
James 2:10-12 For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all. (11) For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become a transgressor of the law. (12) So speak ye, and so do, as men that are to be judged by a law of liberty.
In other words, you want to judge other people the way you want to be judged, Because what measure you measure it out it's going to be measured unto you again, the Bible says. That's why Jesus said be quick to get the board out of your eyes so you can get the mote out of your brother's eye. Well, here's the point. Since you are judging your brother according to the law, you are going to be judged according to the law. So he says be careful that you judge according to a law of liberty. You know what the liberty was? Liberty was the jubilee. Liberty was when all servants who were in bondage were set free. And we know what Jesus did for us, right? Because of the blood-covering He set us free, and we consider that we accept God's forgiveness. And we accept God's blood-covering over our failures until He gets us where He wants us, right? Well, we've got to be sure that we are saying the same thing and judging the same way for our brother. James says:
James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy: mercy glorieth against judgment.
So we have to be careful because we'll bring ourselves under judgment. We'll bring ourselves under the law, as a matter of fact. So that's why he says in Romans, Don't you know, the goodness of God has led you to repentance? In other words, God had mercy upon you, He gave you a gift He didn't have to give you, or didn't owe you. He could have given it to anybody. And yet, less than one percent of the world gets God's gift of repentance, and turns around and goes His way.
So He could give this to anybody. We should consider ourselves most fortunate to get this gift from God, to change our minds and go His way, and even to the extent that we lack in an area, we can go to God and He will help us; but He won't help us if we judge other people. The Bible says, in 2 Corinthians 10:6, "and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full". Notice that in the scriptures, God used the elders to do this judging thing. When I mean elders, I'm not talking about people that went to Bible school, I'm talking about people who are grown up in the Lord, who are mature in the Lord. What does it mean to be mature in the Lord? It means for the Lord to be mature in them, right? The Lord is manifesting in them; there's fruit in their life; they're overcoming sin. God doesn't put people over the church that are in sin, the apostate church does that. In the Bible, he made sure that these were not novices they were laying hands on to ordain as elders, because, he said, novices were going to fall into condemnation of the devil, so these people had to be without reproach. And even to the world (from without), they had to have a clean slate. The church isn't paying attention to this nowadays. When God ordains elders He does it according to whether they are overcomers or not, according to whether they are grown-up in the Lord, not whether they pass their grades in Bible school or not. Because you know that you can pass the grades and answer the questions according to the way that they want to hear it and get your certificate, and that means nothing to God.
Romans 2:4-5 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (5) but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
In other words, for people that judge other people while they themselves are living in sin, there's a day coming down the road. I was thinking about several preachers that recently bit the dust. They would get on television and preach against sin and they were in the very sin they were preaching against - it finally caught up with them, because, according to the verse above, God says that they were treasuring up wrath in the day of wrath; so we have to be careful.
Romans 2:6-10 who will render to every man according to his works: (7) to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: (8) but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, (9) tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; (10) but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek:
So the goodness of God has led us to repentance. And the goodness of God will continue to do that. The Bible says by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). So if we'll exercise faith towards God we'll get all the grace we need to walk with Him. We should know that God's got all the ability to put in us a will to be pleasing unto Him. But we need to acknowledge that; we need to acknowledge that it's not our own ability; we need to acknowledge this to Him. We need to go to Him for this grace and this ability - He will work it in us. Like we see in the Old Testament, David prayed constantly for God to work this desire in him. Look at Luke 13:
God deals with people and they sometimes just ignore Him. He even gives them a desire to do His will and they still turn to their flesh and do their own thing. I was privileged years ago when I worked at Exxon to witness to this young fellow that received the Lord and a week later he was dead. Have you ever heard of these horror stories? Witnessed to so and so and they didn't listen, they went out and that was the end of it. Well, this guy received the Lord one week and was dead the next; got in an automobile wreck and he was gone. But, thank God, he knew the Lord. He was walking in the best of his understanding of the Lord when he died. It's a deception to think you can come to the Lord when you are ready, often because you are enjoying the life you have now, because no one comes unto the Son except the Father draws him/her. When you are drawn you need to go, because you don't have a guarantee later, you've got a guarantee for now. If He doesn't draw you, you will not go. God does this corporately also. We are coming to a time when He is going to turn away from the Gentiles and turn back to the Jews. So there is a time for people to wait too late. Remember the parable of the ten virgins. Five were wise and five were foolish. The Lord came and five weren't ready, so the Lord took the five wise virgins. There's a line drawn in the sand there, and there's a corporate time when we can wait too late. But there are also individual times that a person can wait too late and not do something with the grace God has given them. When God is dealing with you it's because He's going to give you grace to go in His direction, but if you keep turning away from that grace, He'll take it back. He does reprobate some people which means rejected or not standing the test. We all have probably known people like this that have totally turned away from God to follow after the lusts of their own flesh. That's the only thing that pleased them. God can do that because the only reason that we have a desire to know the Lord is because He put it in us. And to whom much is given, much is expected. If you don't do something with what God gives you, He'll take it back and give it to someone else. There are many people sitting on church pews right now that are in this state. They think that they are justified because they are sitting on the church pew and they have a certain revelation and a certain denomination, but they are dead. In the book of Jude it talks about these preachers who went after the way of Balaam for hire. He said they were twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Twice dead means that you must have been born-again. So God can reprobate someone who doesn't do something with the grace that God gives. The following is a corporate example of reprobation.
Luke 13:22-24 And he went on his way through cities and villages, teaching, and journeying on unto Jerusalem. (23) And one said unto him, Lord, are they few that are saved? And he said unto them, (24) Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able.
Have you ever run across people that really wanted to go God's way, but they weren't able? They weren't able to turn away from their sins. You see, the way we come in God's direction is because He grants us repentance. It's not just the desire - it's the repentance. Repentance means to turn around and go the other way change your mind. God grants repentance or He doesn't grant repentance. A good example is in Hebrews 12:14.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man shall see the Lord:
If you're not walking in holiness (sanctification), you are in danger. Sanctification (holiness) means separated from sin unto God.
Hebrews 12:15 looking carefully lest there be any man that falleth short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby the many be defiled;
You know, bitterness can destroy a person. If you don't forgive, you are not forgiven. If you are not forgiven, you are not saved. How could you possibly go to heaven if you're not forgiven? Jesus said very plainly that, if you don't forgive, you're not forgiven. Bitterness is unforgiveness; wrath is unforgiveness; anger is unforgiveness. That's why the Lord warns us to separate ourselves from these things. Be sure to forgive. Be sure to cast out any root of bitterness. He says many be defiled, unclean.
Hebrews 12:16 ... lest there be any fornication, or profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright
Who is Esau? He was a son of Abraham. He lost his birthright. It seems Esau had bitterness and unforgiveness towards his brother Jacob. But people say they are a son of Abraham and can't possibly be lost. This is a huge error. Esau was a son of Abraham and he was lost.
Hebrews 12:17 For ye know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for a change of mind in his father, though he sought it diligently with tears.
The word rejected here means reprobated. In other words, he found no place for repentance. "In his father" wasn't in the original, this was someone's theology inserted there.
Have you ever been under bondage to something and you didn't want to be there, but you couldn't change your mind, and you were in bondage to this thing and you didn't like it? Well, Esau couldn't change his mind. Being able to change your mind or being able to repent is a gift from God. And He will grant it to any one of us by faith. Since we are Christians we have a right to it because we have promises for it, but we have to exercise faith to enter into it. Of course, the devil doesn't want us to understand that and know that. God freely has this gift to give us if we'll just exercise faith for it. However, He won't grant repentance to those judging other people. There are other reasons: self-righteousness, like Peter. Peter did not find the grace of God to be bold enough to stand and not deny the Lord. Why did he not find that grace with God? It was because he was self-righteous. He was considering his own ability and not God's ability.
Some people say you can't overcome sin. You know why they say that? Because they only consider their own ability, they don't consider God's ability. God's ability has been given to us to overcome sin. There's no sin that you can't exercise faith in the Word of God and overcome it; there is no such thing. The Bible says, having therefore these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1) So, we can cleanse ourselves from any defilement of our flesh or spirit by faith in these promises. That's God's Word. We've got to believe it. God has all the ability; He has no problem overcoming sin in us, but He wants us to exercise faith for it. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes it. The condition is for us to believe the good news. We won't bear fruit without agreeing with the good news. If we consider ourselves able, like Peter did, then we are going to fall and we won't find grace from God. Peter didn't find it and he fell. He found it later. Through his stumbling he obviously got the revelation and he got the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2. And he stood up and was used to convert thousands of people. He was very bold then to everybody. So anything we need we can go to God to get it because it's all been provided through Jesus Christ. It's all been provided. Just remember, when you need it go to God. Also remember, He said many will seek to enter in and they won't be able. They'll want to be members of the kingdom, but they will not be able. Their flesh will not permit it. They are not getting victory over their flesh. They are not getting the grace from God that they need to do His will to desire His desire. Go to Luke 13:24-25.
Note that verses 24 and 25 were once part of the same verse, they weren't split as they are presented here. Verse 25 continues on in the context of verse 24.
Luke 13:24-27 Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (25) When once the master of the house is risen up and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us; and he shall answer and say to you, I know you not whence ye are; (26) then shall ye begin to say, We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets; (27) and he shall say, I tell you, I know not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
Question: If you don't know it's not the truth (doctrines, etc.), does God still hold you responsible?
David's answer: Hosea 4:6 says that, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (or understanding). We are responsible to look for the truth. The Bible says, Seek out your own salvation with fear and trembling. The preacher is not responsible for our truth, we are responsible. Every religion thinks they are right. We are responsible to look in the Bible and see if they are right. And many are going to be lost because they didn't take the initiative to search out the truth. How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? He's talking about us as Christians neglecting our salvation - this wasn't spoken to lost people, this was spoken to us. Yes, we are responsible to search for the truth. There are some things that can definitely cause us to lose or miss heaven, and it's important that we know that God has already provided for us everything that we need to get there, but we go to Him by faith to get it. That's why we have these powerful promises.
Concerning getting grace and then not forgiving: what generally happens is, if you don't forgive your brother from the heart, the Lord said He would turn you over to the tormentors. And the tormentors can make you so miserable that you will repent, hopefully. That's God's plan. Matthew 18:4 is where it says what He is going to do. The tormentors are the demons. They'll no sooner jump on you and then you'll be crying to God shortly.
Question: Many times I thought I was forgiven, I said it from my lips; then a week, a month or whatever, that person/situation would come back into my mind. So if you don't "feel" the forgiveness, how do you do it? If the bitterness is still there, how do you get it out of your heart?
David's reply: You can control what you say and what you think; if you are obedient to do that, the Lord will take care of the emotions part. Emotions come from what you think. You think things and your emotions are stirred or they are calmed. Have you ever noticed that? You think about what somebody has done to you and you will get angry. That's an emotion. But that anger comes from the thought life. If you will change your thought life and obey God with your thought life and your mouth, He will take care of those emotions. Look at this verse: 2 Timothy 2:25. If you don't want to buy a new car, don't go shopping.
2 Timothy 2:25 ... in meekness correcting them that oppose themselves; if peradventure God may give them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth,
See, when we try to correct people, we try to bring them in-line with God's Word; the only hope is that God will grant them repentance unto the knowledge of the truth. Convincing won't really work; they'll just be as easily convinced out of it. But, if God gives them the grace to repent and believe the truth, then that's the only way we are going to be successful. That's why we need to go to God first. If we think we can do it we're going to meet with much failure. We need to ask God to move in this person's heart; we need to ask God to grant this person repentance; we need to ask God to put the fear of God in them; you've got to start with God. If you don't start with God, He's rather insulted. Because obviously you think you can do it yourself - right? That's not the way people get grace from God.
2 Timothy 2:26 ... and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.
We have to go to God. Remember, just as God put in you a desire and a will to serve Him and run after Him, He can do it for the people you are praying for. God uses substance to make everything out of, doesn't He? In Hebrews chapter 11, faith is the "substance" of the things hoped for. So we go to God by faith that He will put in this person's heart His gift of repentance and His desires. We can believe for our loved ones, we can believe for our children, because we have promises for all these things. We can pray to God. Jesus said, All things whatsoever you ask in prayer believing, you shall receive them. God will use our faith to put His desire in that person's heart to draw them unto Jesus. And they will recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him "unto the will of him" (Numeric). The devil doesn't have a free-will. He's bound in sin and shapen in iniquity, too, but if the devil's got somebody, that's God's will too. God is the only one that can will them out from under the dominion of the devil. For example, the apostle Paul turned a Christian over to the devil in 1 Corinthians 5 because he was living in sin. It was the will of God that they turn this Christian over to the devil for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit would be saved in the day of the Lord. For that Christian to be under the hand/dominion of the devil was the will of God so he would repent, because the devil is not nice to Christians and he'll make you wish you were back under the blood, where it is safe. The Lord is intent on turning us around when we go into sin.
Look at 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. Ever see people that go to the altar, and go to the altar, and go to the altar? They are continually and constantly crying out to the Lord, but they're never getting any deliverance. Well, it's because it takes faith to receive grace from God. Many people are being put under condemnation and they don't understand that condemnation is not the way to be an overcomer - faith is. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world, the Bible says.
Paul says, I now rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, a repentance which bringeth no regret; but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9-10)
The sorrow of the world doesn't work repentance. Godly sorrow makes you change your mind and go the other way. Sorrow of the world just works regret. We can be sorry, but it has to end up in faith, because faith is the only thing that gives us grace from God. Many people want to overcome their sin, but the only thing that they can see before their eyes is condemnation. But when they change their mind and desire to go God's way they have got to have faith, they need faith in their heart. Without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto God; without faith it's impossible to receive of His grace. So what you have to do with a person like that is you got to put faith in their heart; you've got to tell them that the Lord delivered (past tense) them from this sin and that the Lord will give them a desire to do what He wants them to do, but they need to get rid of their condemnation.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
Note that it does not say "who walk not after the flesh" in the original. The King James says that, but it's not in the ancient manuscripts, because who needs this if you're not walking after the flesh to begin with. It doesn't make any sense - it was added in there. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus while they are still in their sin, desiring to be delivered of it like Paul was. In Romans chapter 7, Paul was failing God miserably and he hated it, he wanted to serve God; then he got this revelation (Romans 8:1). Why did he get this revelation? Because the only way you can get out of the sin is to get rid of condemnation and get faith, else you're not going to have the victory that overcomes the world. We want a Godly sorrow that works repentance, not just the sorrow of the world. The world is sorry because they get caught. We've got to be sorry that we are going the wrong way; we've got to be sorry that we are displeasing God; we've got to be sorry enoughto turn around and go the other way - right? Look at Jeremiah 31:18.
The Bible says we can go boldly before the throne of grace. Well, if you're going boldly, you're going with faith, aren't you? We need grace and have to get it from God. If we go by faith, we are going to receive the grace we need. The devil is real diligent in trying to turn us away and cause us to look at our past, look at our failures. If he can do that, you're just going to feel condemnation all the time. But the Bible says forgetting those things that are behind (Philippians 3) let us press forward to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. We've got to forget what's back there. We've got to look ahead. We've got to forget all our failures and see what the Bible says about us and hold fast to it; hold fast to the confession of our hope that it waiver not.
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a calf unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art Jehovah my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. (Jeremiah 31:18-19)
Notice the words "turn thou me". The power comes from God. If you turn me, I'll be turned. And after I am turned, I'll repent. I'll do it your way. And this repentance causes Ephraim to smite himself upon his thigh - right? This is grief; grief for going against God.
It's awesome how you can pray for people and God can put the fear of the Lord in them. Think about Paul on the Damascus road - God can save anybody He wants to save. What makes Him want to save somebody? Faith. We exercise our faith. Who would be in Paul's shoes on the road to Damascus and they wouldn't say, Yes, Lord? God has the ability and He has the circumstances in His hand. We can be confident in the Lord. There are promises in the Bible for our children - right? Our children won't be in bondage to foreign dominion (Deuteronomy 28). That was part of the curse that our children would be in bondage to the enemy. So Jesus bore the curse. Even when they think they want to go the other way, God's able to put in them the desire to turn and go towards Him, like Ephraim did, or ourselves, for failing God. It's the same way for us: Lord, you change my heart. I invite you to change my heart and make it your desires to go your way. You put it in me, Lord, to do your will and I'll serve you. Draw me, and we will run after you (Song of Solomon). Remember the Shulamite? God is pleased when we recognize that He is the only one with the power and the authority to give us abilities to do what He wants. Self-righteousness is a filthy rag before God. Our faith in our own ability will fail. God sees to it - He makes sure you fail when you're self-confident.
Question: How does confession play into this?
David's Reply: Is there a right place for condemnation? Yeah, sure there is. If a person is in willful disobedience, there's a right place for condemnation. If a person desires to serve God, that's when they need to get rid of their condemnation. When do we confess God's salvation and when do we confess our sins? Think about it. You confessed your sins when you are repenting of it then you turn away from it. You don't look at it anymore. Some people just look at the sin over and over and over. You now what, you'll never overcome it that way. You've got to say what the Bible says about you. You look at the sin one time, you confess it to God and then you forget about it. Now, is John telling the truth there? He will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Do you believe that? You can't have it unless you believe it.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
What's unrighteousness? It's the thing that makes you sin in the first place. If He takes that out of you, are you going to sin? No. That's God's promise, and He means it too. So what we do is kind of like when the Israelites were in the wilderness and were murmuring against God, they were speaking against the Lord, and God sent the fiery serpents to bite them. Many of the Israelites were dying from these fiery serpents and the Lord gave to Moses the remedy that Moses was to put this brazen serpent on a pole, and everybody that got their eyes on this serpent on the pole would be delivered or healed of the snake bite. We know that Jesus was that serpent on the pole, because He became sin for us. That's why He was likened unto a serpent. But if you get your eyes on Jesus, and get your eyes off the snake bite, you get healed of the snake bite. If you get your eyes on the snake bite and off of Jesus, you get nothing except more of the same curse. Some very well-meaning but ignorant preachers like to get your eyes on your sin and keep them there all the time. With this approach, you could never overcome anything because you're always crying about your sin. The Lord doesn't want us to continue to cry about our sin, He wants us to reckon ourselves dead unto sin but alive unto God as in Romans Ch. 6.
This is God's way of delivering us from sin. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes it (Romans 1:16). The Gospel is the good news! The good news is that Jesus took your sins away. The Bible says let your speech always be seasoned with grace. If it's law and condemnation all the time then you're continually going to be looking inward instead of upward and you're going to be continually failing. Because you've got your eyes on yourself and the problem you don't have your eyes on the serpent on the pole (Jesus). This is why He tells us you're dead to sin. Romans Ch. 6 is the story of you being united with the death of Christ through baptism, so that when you come up out of the water you're dead and Jesus lives. That's our faith. That's why we get baptized. We get baptized so we are united with His death, burial and resurrection. In other words, when I came up out of that water, Dave was dead and Jesus lives. He lives in me. That's what Paul said. It's no more I that live; it's Christ that lives in me.
Romans 6:11 Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus.
In other words, stop looking at the sin. Jesus is bigger. He took care of it - right?
Romans 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof:
Why does he say that? Notice that verses 11 and 12 go together. If you do verse 11, then you get verse 12. He's telling you this is the way to not let sin rule over you. Reckon yourself to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God. This is the Gospel, the good news. Jesus took care of sin. He already overcame the world. It's finished. He's taken away our sins. He was the Lamb of God that took (past tense) away the sins of the world. We are delivered. And he goes on in this chapter to tell us that we were made free from sin, in verse 22.
Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto sanctification, and the end eternal life.
That should give you cause to rejoice -right? We're free. We've got to be so confident in that because it's the Gospel that we keep our eyes on Jesus and He gives us power, if we believe it. If we don't believe it and we are continually looking at ourselves in sin, then we're going to get no power. Because the Lord doesn't want us looking at ourselves, He wants us looking at Him. Look at the promise and reckon it to be done. He said, Reckon yourself to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God. I am dead to sin; sin no more has power over me. If you believe that sin has power over you, then it has power over you. If you believe that it does not have power over you, because of what Jesus did, then it has no power over you. And God will continue to do a good work in you because He's got faith coming out of you and you are speaking it. It's no more I that live, it is Christ living in me. Paul taught us this in Galatians 2:20. Agree with the Word of God. I don't live, Jesus lives. Dave died. He died with Christ about 2000 years ago. It was physically united at the time of my baptism.
Jesus took away everysin and put it on His cross. All we have to do is believe the Gospel and He is able to do it. Do you know that He's not able to do it unless you believe the Gospel? He's not able to deliver you from sin unless you believe the Gospel. Remember that Jesus went to His own hometown and He was not able to do many mighty works because of their unbelief. He was not able. And He's not able to deliver from sin with unbelief either. We have to give Him the substance of the thing hoped for (Hebrews 11:1-2). Concerning forgiveness, the correct confession is: I canforgive because of what Jesus did for me. I am dead to sin and alive unto God. Our confession has to be in line with the Word as in Romans 10:10.
Romans 10:10 ... for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Most of the worldly church is living in the Old Testament. Because they consider the only thing Jesus came for was to bring forgiveness of sins, which the blood of bulls and goats already brought; but the Bible says it couldn't take awaysin, so God brought another covenant, by the blood of Jesus, in order to take away sin. They don't understand that this covenant came to take away the nature of sin, so what do they do? They want to go back and live under the old covenant where they just have forgiveness of sin. Forgiveness is good, we've got that, but we also have something greater than that. The Bible says that God rejected that first covenant because it could not perfect. Why did He bring the new covenant? Because what happened at the cross through Jesus Christ is that Jesus took away sin; took away the very nature of evil. He took it out of us. He nailed it on the cross. He gave us His life. See, these people are confessing something that's not New Testament. We need to confess what the Bible says about us and what the Lord did for us. Most people aren't entering into this because they are not agreeing with the New Testament.
Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
1 Peter 2:24 who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.
Hebrews 10:1-2 For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect them that draw nigh. (2) Else would they not have ceased to be offered? because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins.
God fulfills the Hebrews 10:1-2 in the New Testament. Why did He reject the old covenant? Because it couldn't make perfect them that draw nigh.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
It is finished!