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Repentance and Confession

Mark 1:4-5
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan. (NIVUK)

Repentance and confession are the keys to change.  John the Baptist announced that God was coming, and it was most important for everybody to get cleaned up to be ready for Him.  That role was prophesied by the Angel Gabriel before John's birth (Luke 1:16-17): it was his life's work.  John taught that sin is the great barrier between human beings and God (Isaiah 59:1-2) but that God would forgive those who repented and confessed their sin (2 Chronicles 7:14).  Many who accepted what John said, and repented of their sin, were willing to confess it publicly and were glad to be baptised.  That outward sign was the physical confirmation of their confession to God.  Some, who tried to use baptism as a religious ceremony without being repentant, were rebuked by John (Matthew 3:7-10) as he sent them away.  

Of course, repentance of heart and confession is only the beginning, but it is the essential first step in coming to God ... or indeed getting right with anyone.  We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and because none of us gets everything right all the time, repentance needs to be a part of our lifestyle (Revelation 3:19).  However, pride and our fear of admitting failure is opposed to our need to repent.  We have a God whose graciousness (Hosea 14:2) is largely unknown to corporate business.  Believers show how much they believe in a God who forgives and restores when they genuinely admit their faults.  Strangely, such humility is secretly respected.  Millions of sin-laden hearts want to be unburdened but think it is impossible.  Only those who follow Jesus can prove that it is possible.

In the workplace we may fear losing our job if we admit our failures.  Companies fear being sued if they tell the truth.  But that attitude removes most businesses and professions from the starting blocks of real progress.  Even governments can rarely bring themselves to accept responsibility for their own errors.  It is hardly surprising that they find real change for the better is almost impossible.  In fact, there is little forgiveness in worldly institutions because, apart from Christ, sin can only be swept under the carpet - providing good reasons for the next office incumbent to gloat as the carpets are pulled up.  But, adding good ideas onto a corrupt past cannot work for long.  

Repentance is our part, and forgiveness is God's. Through Jesus, a forgiven man or woman is not only a released personality (2 Corinthians 5:17), but also an agent for real change.  Admitting what is wrong is the essential prerequisite to progress.  In England, a Christian conviction of what was wrong in the society led William Wilberforce to persist, for 23 years, in asking the government to stop the slave trade. In what way could your personal repentance become the means of changing your bit of the world in Jesus' Name?

Prayer 
Gracious Father. Thank You for this reminder to humbly confess my sin. Please forgive me for my pride and fear which stops me entering the blessing You have for me. Please help me to admit the truth about myself and the society in which I live. Help me to move on by receiving Your forgiveness and changing what is wrong. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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