The Goodness of God and Repentance

Romans 2:4 (NKJV) 4  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

We have been looking at the goodness of God.  In Exodus 33, Moses asked God to show him his glory.  God said, “I will show you my goodness.”  There is a direct correlation between the goodness of God and the glory of God.  This week we have been discussing how to walk or live under the constant influence of the goodness of God.  In Exodus 34, we found that before God could show Moses his goodness, the Ten Commandments, which Moses had thrown down and broken in pieces, had to be restored.  To walk in his goodness, we must walk in his ways.

Today I want to look at another scripture in Romans.  We know that we are not under the Law of Moses.  Salvation is a gift given freely and earned by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We can do nothing to deserve it nor can we do anything to earn it.  However, the wages of sin is death.  I do not believe he is only talking about the death of eternal separation from God when we are outside of salvation.  I believe Paul is also talking about the door that opens in the life of a believer when he or she allows sin to remain.

God desires good things for his children.  His goodness is our inheritance.  I desire good things for my children.  When they were young, I delighted in giving them good gifts.  However, I also gave them discipline and even punishment when they needed it.  I did not do this because I was withholding my goodness.  I was actually acting out of the same desire to give them good things.  There are things that my children had to learn in order to continue to partake of goodness in adult life. 

God is a better father than I am, and he desires that his children learn to partake of his goodness throughout life.  Sin will block the goodness of God.  Our Father teaches us not to sin.  He tells us what we must not do.  He lets us know that those things do not please him, but his real purpose is that we would stay away from the things that open the door to the evil of the devil and close the door to the goodness of God.

Any Christian who is honest will acknowledge that he still commits sin at times.  1 John 1:8 makes it very clear that God understands this.

1 John 1:8 (NKJV) 8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

To me, there is no question that he is talking to Christians since he says, “If we say.”  Christians sin.  The wages or result of sin is death.  Death is the power of the devil in the earth.  When we sin, we open the door to the influence of the power of the devil.  To say this is not so, is dishonest to ourselves and to  . 

What is the solution to this problem?  How can I stop sin and thereby keep the influence of the devil out of my life?  Today’s verse tells us that God, in his goodness, has provided a way.  This verse does not say the goodness of God simply excuses sin.  That would not be just, and God is always just.  It does not say that the goodness of God negates the influence of the devil that sin opens us to.  It says that his goodness leads us to repentance.

Often when we hear the word repentance, we think of God’s anger.  We tend to associate repentance with God’s displeasure.  I will not say that God is pleased when we sin.  He is not.  However, repentance is not a product of his displeasure.  It is a product of his goodness toward us. 

We must look at the rest of 1 John 1 in order to understand this.

1 John 1:9-10 (NKJV) 9  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10  If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Repentance is the process of acknowledging that we are wrong and taking steps to turn from what is wrong to what is right.  No one can do that for someone else.  We can only repent for ourselves.  When we acknowledge that we are wrong, we are taking responsibility for what we have done.  This puts us in a position to repent and ask God’s forgiveness.  He is our savior.  He is our Lord and our Father.  All sin is ultimately against him.  With the confession is the understanding that we are asking God to forgive us of that sin.

This verse says that he does that.  It also says something that is very important.  He cleanses us from all unrighteousness.  Unrighteousness is that state of being not right with God.  Salvation made us right with God from God’s point of view.  The sins we all commit in the course of life do not take that right standing with God from us.  Jesus paid for those sins as well as the past sins.  However, sin opens the door to the devil’s influence and brings a sense of separation to us.  God will not condemn us, but the devil will and so will our conscience (1 John 3:20-21.)

When we repent, God is both faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us of the effects of the sin.  He is faithful because he is fulfilling his Word to us concerning eternal salvation.  He is just because Jesus paid the price for the sin.  He has every right to both forgive us and cleanse us. 

The forgiveness causes a removal of the sense of separation that comes to man when he sins.  The cleansing of unrighteousness takes away the devil’s ability to bring death into our circumstances because of sin.  The effect is instantaneous.  There may be times when our sin sets in motion certain consequences that cannot be changed.  However, once we are forgiven and cleansed further consequences can be avoided.  Death has no more say in the situation.

None of this can happen unless we repent.  Why would that be true?  It is so because God does not take away our free will when we are born again.  Jesus died to preserve our free will.  He will not make us behave correctly.  He will not make us avoid sin.  If we want to sin, we can.  Death is still in the earth and sin still gives death influence in our lives.  That is not God getting mad at us and withholding his blessing.  That is an effect produced by a cause.

God expects us to grow up in him.  To fulfill our destiny and become channels of the goodness of God, we must become mature believers. When my children were very small, I strictly controlled their choices.  The older they got the less control I had over their decisions in life.  They are all grown now.  They make their own choices and they must deal with the consequences.  The Christian life is no different.  God expects mature children to make good choices.  When they do not make the right ones according to God’s standards and principles, there are consequences he does not control. 

Since it is inevitable that we are going to make bad choices, God provides a way for us to negate them.  He provides a power that can free us from the future consequences of those choices if not the past ones.  His goodness leads us to repentance. 

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