God Grants Repentance

God turns a person's heart in the way He wants him to go.  When called, we did not decide on our own to repent — God granted us that repentance.  Gentile or Israelite, God calls and grants repentance to whom He will.

“They glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”  (Acts 11:18)

When a person is first being called he may suppose that he has made up his own mind to repent and follow God’s way.  But, Scripture reveals that repentance is always initiated by God as He turns a person’s heart around.

One would think that we would be aware of any and all of our sins.  But often times we are completely blind to our faults and transgressions.  If God did not make them apparent to us we would never realize that we were coming short and missing the mark.  David prayed:  “Who can understand his errors?  Cleanse thou me from secret faults.”  (Psalms 19:12)

Indeed it is by Divine Providence that even a king’s heart must be transposed and redirected by God.  “The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: He turns it whithersoever He will.  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord ponders the hearts.”  (Proverbs 21:1)

In the New Testament Paul put it this way:  “Do you despise the riches of [God’s] goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”  (Romans 2:4)

When we are called we repent.  God grants repentance, but we continue to have proclivities to revert to the habitual patterns of our past lives.  Since God’s way is higher than what we have ever known and experienced, we have to overwrite (as it were) our “past-reality” with God's more perfect way.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

After conversion we must continue to repent because it is entirely possible to fall back into our erroneous ways.  For example: A person who grows up in a family of alcoholics develops a certain “reality” – which from God's point of view is no reality at all.  And a person who grows up in an abusive or dysfunctional family also develops a severely distorted "reality."  It is the same with anger, gambling and any number of vices.  Because of familiar and routine patterns, aberrant behavior can easily lapse into comfortable areas where we see no need for repentance.  When that happens to us, how can we change who and what we are?  We need to ask God to show us and help us get rid of our old tendencies and ways in our lives.  Only God can provide the impetus and motivation required to bring us to repentance.

There is an example of this in the life of David.  Even as a young shepherd boy, he fearlessly slew Goliath — while proclaiming, “The Lord will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”  And yet, David was a man subject to like passions as we are – pride, lust, power and vanity.  How was David finally converted and changed?  God is the master engineer – the author of our salvation.  God used Uriah the Hittite to bring David to repentance and salvation.  Uriah was dedicated to his young beautiful wife, and to his king and country (2 Samuel 11:3).

While Uriah was away on military duty, his wife and his king betrayed his faithfulness and loyalty.  Unaware of the illicit affair between David and Bathsheba, Uriah remained loyal and faithful.  Uriah is among the select few Biblical personalities who are a type of Christ.  He will not find out that he is a type of Christ until he is restored to life at the end of the millennium.  That is when he will learn that he was betrayed by everyone close to him (2 Samuel 11:24).

Somehow David bore an inclination to lust that remained unaddressed.  He did not deal with it and he excused it to his detriment – causing him to become oblivious to his sins – rendering him useless to God.  In His mercy and compassion God chastised and humbled David so that he could become a man after God's own heart.  Uriah made this possible.  Uriah was the instrument of David's fall – that God might redeem David.  As a result, David's heart and life were turned around, and he became exceptionally repentant, remorseful and useful to God.

God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed Uriah to be "used up" for David’s sake – but in God's infinite mercy, not forever used up.   Through God's miraculous intervention, Uriah will be able to see God's spiritual plan from a magnanimous perspective – and then he will be able to completely forgive all offences.  Uriah's reward will be exceptionally great because he was used to bring about King David's repentance, and ultimately – David's salvation.

Let's ask God to help us understand that He is also working out His vast plan in us in ways that we cannot yet fathom.  He continues to grant us repentance.

Sermon:  "God Grants Repentance"