Becoming vulnerable is the first step toward freedom. Vulnerability exposes our weakness and enables God to break down strongholds. We cannot function in freedom until we become brave enough to confront the strongholds that hinder the advancement of the Kingdom in our lives.
God is so much better than we give Him credit for. I confess that I’ve done a poor job representing His goodness at times. The older I get the more inadequate I realize I am. The Lord has revealed Himself to me in new ways in recent days. I often find myself laughing and crying at the same as He makes His Presence known. These fresh encounters with God have left me more humble, grateful, and free than I can ever remember. There is so much to discover about following Jesus; it’s a never-ending journey. I’ve asked God to help me become a better example of His goodness along the way.
I’m currently living in a place of great paradox. On the one hand, I’ve never felt closer to Jesus and I’ve never been more aware of the Presence of the Holy Spirit. Yet, on the other hand, I’ve never felt more burdened; I live with a constant sense of heaviness for the state of the Bride. In the midst of my burdens, I’ve discovered the power of weakness and the freedom that exists when we come to the end of ourselves.
At the heart of repentance lies vulnerability. True freedom in Christ requires that I constantly confess my faults, that I lay my inadequacies on the altar. Building an altar in our lives is so important. I’m not saying that we sin every day as in “willfully transgressing against God.” However, I firmly believe that when we fail to love well that we sin against God and others. That means my attitudes, actions, words, and thoughts matter deeply. It means the things that I should be doing that I neglect to do matter in my relationship with Jesus.
I’m convinced that a lifestyle of repentance is the foundation of holiness. The minute I don’t think I have anything wrong in my life is the moment I set myself up as God. I have so many things to constantly repent of; at the top of the list is busyness and distraction. Beyond that, I often repent for not praying enough. I repent of being impatient. I repent for not always responding to my family the way I should. I repent of making decisions, even small decisions, without adequately seeking Jesus. I repent of developing preconceived notions about other people. These are all things that I need to continually lay on the altar. Again, the altar is so important.
True repentance is the only way to break down strongholds. Being in a relationship with God is important, but being in a right relationship with God is essential, especially if we’re going to live the life He’s called us to live. Indeed, repentance and holiness go hand in hand.
Dying to self and taking up the cross daily is about killing the little hedonist that’s kicking and screaming inside of us all. The flesh is one of our biggest foes; it’s always seeking pleasure that lasts for a season. We’re called to kill the flesh every time it raises its ugly head by nailing it to the cross. And when it reappears, we have to do it again. For holiness to become a lifestyle repentance must become a regular practice.
Have you ever considered the corporate hedonist that often appears among the Body of Christ? When the church begins warring against itself Satan takes the throne. When we refuse to corporately take up our cross we take up our quarrels. The Apostle James tells us that this infighting comes from the desire to please self over the desire to please God (James 4). It’s always rooted in our inability to believe that God can give us everything we need.
Many of you know that I’ve given my life to the Church, and in particular, the Church of the Nazarene. My heritage is grounded in the Church of the Nazarene. I love the people called “Nazarenes” very much. However, at times I’ve loved her too much. I repent of ever making my denomination an idol. I repent for allowing the boundaries of the Church of the Nazarene to limit my perspective of the Kingdom. I repent of the times I’ve allowed my identity to become more wrapped up in the Church of the Nazarene than the Kingdom of Jesus. We’d all do well to remember that God is a lot bigger than our little tribe.
With that said, I am burdened for the church. I’m troubled by the lack of passion for revival and what seems to the protest against it by some. I’m burdened over the unfaithfulness and pettiness. I’m burdened over the toxic environment that exists in some places. I’m burdened over the manifestation of pride. I am praying that God breaks down these strongholds; and when I say break down, I mean crush.
I’m praying for people to be delivered from rigid fundamentalism because none of us is the judge. I’m praying for people to be delivered from dead religious formalism because God is alive and He needs room to move among His people. I’m praying for people to be delivered from progressive intellectual elitism because it’s opposite of the posture of humility. It saddens me to see so many places negatively affected by legalism, liberalism, antagonism, and a host of other “isms” that no doubt breaks the heart of God.
We need to become a “movement” again: one that’s led by the manifest Presence of the Holy Spirit. God forgive us for allowing the church to become a religious enterprise. Forgive us for turning the church into a business instead of a house of prayer. Forgive us for trying to climb the latter of success. Forgive us for being more concerned about what people think than we are what God thinks. Forgive us for trying to be something we’re not. Forgive us for not living by the principles of corporate prayer and repentance that You’ve prescribed in Scripture:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
It’s time to cry out to God corporately. For the anointing of the Holy Spirit to fall on us again we must repent of our failed business strategies, hollow philosophies, lack of accountability, and broken theological constructs. The Father won’t settle for being an afterthought. He desires to be intimately involved in everything we do.
I hope you hear my heart. In the midst of my brokenness, my longing to be a better follower of Jesus is increasing. Brokenness is a good place to be. There’s a lot of freedom when we learn to live like there’s nothing to lose. Vulnerability that leads to repentance is the only thing that’ll break down the strongholds preventing us from experiencing the intimate Presence of the Holy Spirit.
God is so good. He’s better than I’ve ever imagined He could be. There are parts of His goodness that are easily noticeable, yet often overlooked. I want to spend the rest of my life paying closer attention to who He really is and what He’s really like. For that to happen, vulnerability and repentance must become a common way of life.
4 thoughts on “Repentance & Holiness”
Oh Pastor Brian… wow! This is a powerful and so totally accurate word!! Thank you! Really … thank you!
You could not have made this any clearer! Oh how much we all need to take this to the Father, repent and humble ourselves before Him! Carrying a burden for the lost should be the deep desire of our soul!
Brian, I ran across similar thoughts about holiness and repentance in a book I am currently reading. “”Forget about advancing with God if there is not an openness to repentance. Prayer is the avenue for God to change us and bring us to health. Spiritual health is impossible without holiness. Holiness is the essence of wholeness. And health cannot be obtained without ongoing repentance. Repentance is an admission of what is right and what is wrong; it is the recalibration of the inner moral compass. With repentance comes redirection. With repentance, we demonstrate humility. With repentance, we evidence not a respect for the holiness of God, but a hunger for it. Repentance keeps communion with God fresh. It is our apology to God for failings – yet it is not groveling! It is noble sensitivity. It is respectfulness. It is appreciation for holy values and Biblical ideals, for life-giving principles and behavioral benchmarks that characterize the true believer – it is aspiring to Christlikeness. Repentance gives birth to conversion – to change; without repentance, there is no change. Without change, without growth, there is no legitimate prayer life. Martin Luther declared, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘repent,’ he willed that the entire life of a believer be one of repentance.” (P. Douglas Small (2015-11-04 05:00:00+00:00). The Prayer Closet: Creating a Personal Prayer Room (Kindle Locations 805-814). Alive Publications. Kindle Edition. )