The Call to a Deeper Repentance

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Kathy Gallagher shares her testimony of how God began to do a work of repentance in her some 40 years ago, and how that ongoing process is still happening every day of her life.

There is a deeper work of repentance that God wants to do in our lives, and that deeper repentance is necessary for an overcoming life of freedom. (From #355 - What Role Does Repentance Play in Freedom from Porn?)

I'm joined in the studio today by Kathy Gallagher, and she is co-founder of Pure Life Ministries and for many years was Director of our Wives Program. Welcome Kathy.

Thanks, Jim. Good to be here.

We're here today to talk about the subject of repentance. Now, when we read the New Testament, we see a strong emphasis laid there on the need for repentance from sin when a person comes to Christ. And even though that is seldom preached in church anymore, it is still the clear teaching of Scripture. Describe for me, if you will, in general terms, what this repentance usually looks like in the life of a new believer.

Well, we've had lots of experience around here watching people come into repentance, and in my own life, it's just coming to the realization, in simple terms, that I'm a sinner, and I am in trouble and I need help. And I think people just recognizing that they are separated from God, and there's some desire, something inside a soul that knows they're wrong, but they want to get right. That's very simple, in general.

So when you came into repentance, what did that look like for you?

It was kind of a month’s-long process for me, just an inward disturbance, I would call it. And I knew that I was in trouble spiritually, but I didn't know what any of that stuff meant. I didn't know about sin. I didn't know about repentance. I didn't know anything, but what I did know there was just, inside I knew that if I died, I would go to hell. I don't know why those terms even came into my mind, because I wasn't raised in the church. I didn't know any of these things, but there was just this terrible disturbance inside that I was not right, and eventually, after months of being tortured by this thought — conviction — I was just under tremendous conviction. Of course, I didn't know what that meant, but I just wanted relief from it. I wanted to get right. I was tired of being afraid that God was going to step on me or something. It was terrible. I was living in just absolute torment, but gratefully, I was put in a position to actually deal with my sin issue. Again, I didn't know that I had a sin issue, or what that even really meant, but it was a Baptist pastor who sat me down and he was telling me what the Scriptures said about sin, and that my sins could be washed away, and that I could be made clean, and I jumped all over that, because I knew in my heart that was the issue. And I repented of my sins, August 1, 1979, sitting in my sister's dining room table with a Baptist pastor I'd never met before, and I walked away a new creature, and that was my entrance into the kingdom of God.

Kathy you said that you repented of your sins. Just for clarification, there are many people who confuse confessing their sins — agreeing with God, saying it out loud — and repenting of those sins. Would you describe for us the difference as you understand it?

Well, yeah, confessing is saying, you're agreeing, admitting that you're a sinner. Repentance is turning from that sin and turning from that life, and they’re two totally different things. And you shouldn't confuse one with the other. Yes, we are supposed to confess our sins, that's the beginning, but repentance, real biblical repentance, is turning away from self. Ultimately, that's what it is, turning away from those behaviors, that lifestyle.

At our annual conference earlier this year, a theme began to emerge that we believe the Holy Spirit was teaching us, that He was calling us to a deeper repentance. Now, when you hear that, that there is a call from God to a deeper repentance, what does that mean to you?

Well, I believe, I think this is true, that a lot of Christians think that once you've had that initial “come into the kingdom” experience, that that is it, you did repent. I repented when I got saved, but I believe, and this is been my experience for 40 years as a Christian, and many other saints that I'm close to have had the same experience, that it's a daily thing. It is me submitting myself to a holy God and inviting Him to come and keep cleaning, keep dealing with me, keep showing me, because I know that I have a fallen sinful nature, and that nature did not disappear at salvation. It is still with me, and I know if anybody is honest with themselves, you sin, we sin in life. We say the wrong things, we do the wrong things, we crave the wrong things, and because of that, at least for me, I have constantly asked the Lord for forgiveness and I turn away from known sins. I will, if I sin, for example, if I say something ugly to someone, I will go to that person, I will repent to that person, in tears usually, and I repent to the Lord. So repentance is a lifestyle. It is for me, and we definitely teach that here at Pure Life Ministries, because it is a foundation stone of the Christian life.

As God deals with you and you examine your own heart, what are some of the underlying sins of the heart and the disposition, that God calls a Christian to deal with and then turn from?

Well, there's a myriad. Where do you begin? In my own life, I'll use my own life as an example, just again, it's attitudes of the heart. For a lot of people, there's anger, there's bitterness, there's covetousness, idolatry, sexual lust, fantasy; there's stuff in us that is contrary to who God is, and we're supposedly being conformed to His image, and so it's not just like sexual sins, or the big sins, you know: we don't smoke, we don't drink, we don't fornicate, that's the evangelical list of do's and don'ts. But I believe, in God's kingdom, it's attitudes of the heart, that can be all kinds of stuff. And attitudes, and hatred, and lust, and bitterness, wrath, anger, malice. I mean, in the New Testament there are several lists, especially from Paul, that he lists out of Christian life behaviors that we should try to attain to, and ungodly things that we should abstain from, repent of and turn away from. So it's like, there is stuff inside of us and it's not just the evangelical list, it is heart attitudes, and I know, for me personally, that I didn't have big outward sins, necessarily. In my journey with the Lord, He's had to go after heart attitudes in me, because that's where my sins reside at, they are residing in my heart; things that people cannot see but God sees. God knows who I am. He's got my address and He goes after those things.

So, for the man who's listening, who has tuned in because he deals with sexual sin, he might say, “Well, I'm not looking at pornography any more. I'm not engaged in this kind of sexual sin anymore, but what I hear you saying is if he still has anger in his heart if he still is dealing with fear, if he is still a critical judgmental spirit, if he has unbelief, they're just as repugnant to God as any outward manifestation of sexual sins.

That's right, yeah. And I don't think God measures one sin from another. I think the difference for us as human beings, looking at sin, for example a wife looking at her husband's sexual sin, would consider that the most heinous crime on the planet. But God doesn't see it like that. It's all separating us from Him, all of these things, and it's all contrary to the life of a Christian. I know, and I’m pretty strong about this, it is the attitudes of the heart that God is going after. It's the sins of the heart that God's going after, so you may not be in sexual sin anymore, but if you are angry, bitter, critical, all of things that you just mentioned, Jim, if you're in that, those are undealt with sins that need to be dealt with, because all of that all those openings; I'll just say it that way, I consider those things openings, it's like a pathway into sin again; that's where it's going to take you because it's unconquered, undealt with, and that's the whole idea of daily repentance. I start off my time with the Lord repenting even if I don't have anything specifically. I want to clear the garbage out and have a clear communication with my Abba, and the only way I know to do that is to repent of myself, and then I can enter into His presence.

Well you just said daily repentance and that should lead someone to conclude that there's not just repentance at the beginning of the Christian life. It's ongoing and even in the deeper repentance, it's not a ‘one and done’ thing. “I repented of my anger.” We may have to repent of our anger many times throughout our lives.

So true, so true. How many times have I had to repent to the Lord for my fear, or for critical spirit, and those things that don't seem like a big deal to some people, those are the things that God has just gone after in me, and I'm so grateful to Him for it; but it is a painful process, and I think we get tired of it, we get tired of, how do you say it? I'll say it this way: you get tired of being dealt with. You get tired of seeing yourself. But the brokenness that comes through letting God show you, instead of ignoring it and pushing it aside, let Him shove it in your face, so to speak. Although He's a merciful and patient Father, He will still discipline you and correct you, and that is such a gift. I'm so grateful that the Lord does that, and I'm grateful for the brokenness that He's brought into my life, showing me what I am. I have long since given up any idea that I'm good, I know I'm not good, and if you have this attitude inside that you're good with God, that, to me, is a red flag that something's really off and you need to go back to square one and start over,  and really get before the Father and find out, because we're not good, we're never going to be good, and that's why I love the gift of repentance and why I love brokenness before my Father. He loves it. He loves a broken and contrite heart.

We just can't walk before Him without His grace, can we?

That's right, that's right. We have to have Him.

Well, as we wrap up here today, what would you say to our listeners to encourage them to engage in this ongoing process of seeking a deeper repentance?

Pray. Just go before Abba. I call him Abba every morning He's my Abba, my daddy, my father. And I ask, “show me, Lord, search me, search my heart and know my ways and reveal to me if there's any evil thing in me, and He does. And He's faithful and He's good. When God shows me, I don't feel beat up. I don't feel rejected. I feel loved, because it's coming from a loving Father who cares deeply about me.

Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience and for teaching us about the deeper repentance today.

My pleasure, Jim. Thank you.

This excerpt is from our podcast episode, “What Role Does Repentance Play in Freedom from Pornography?” Episode #355.

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