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Timeless Truths: A Lifestyle of Repentance is the Path to Victory

In this "Timeless Truths" segment: God is more than willing to set us free, but we've got do things His way. We have to allow Him to continually search our hearts and show us what displeases Him. Then, all we need to do is take the path of repentance.

Host: Jeff, we want to talk today about a word we hear a lot here at Pure Life Ministries and that is repentance. And I want to begin by asking you, how important is it that we take the time in our walk with the Lord to evaluate the condition of our heart?

Jeff: Well, one aspect that I've learned about repentance is that it really is my connection to the Lord. I value my prayer life with the Lord. And I know that God wants to use that time with Him and the time in His Word to help me and to show me things. To me, repentance is key to keeping that communion and fellowship with the Lord and to allow Him to work in my life the way He wants to. It also leads me into a more intimate relationship with Him.

Host: Talk a little bit about what leads us into repentance. How does repentance begin in our hearts?

Jeff: Sometimes, it's obvious the things we need to repent of. But other times there are attitudes in our lives that we're not aware of. To me, when I go to the Lord, especially in prayer and when I'm in His Word, I have to realize that God wants to help me during that time. He wants to calibrate me. He's always wanting to calibrate me and I need to be aware of that. I want to be pleasing to Him and I want to know His will, but I also understand that I need His help to search me and to show me things that I'm not seeing.

Host: Yeah, I would say for myself also that one of the things I'm learning is that underneath the things that are outwardly obvious that the Lord’s had to deal with in my life, there are things deeper in my heart that the Lord is really after. And unless I let Him go after the underlying things, I may be able to change my behavior or I may be able to “keep the rules”, but my heart won't change unless I let the Lord go after those deeper things.

Jeff: Yeah. And you know, a lot of times, pride hinders us from repenting. It hinders us when we want to believe the best about ourselves. In reality, we're wretches and we just need to be willing to agree with God and call things what He calls them in our lives and just agree with God when He's showing us things in our lives that need to change.

Host: I want you to expand on that because in the Christian church today, we have become experts at euphemisms. For example, we often hear guys say, “I'm struggling with lust.” Or, “I’m struggling with pornography.” And the reality is that they aren’t struggling at all; they've given over to very specific kinds of sins.

Jeff: Well, I'll say it this way, we don't see in the Word of God where it says a man struggles with lust. In those cases, it says that a man committed adultery. For a guy that's been lusting for a girl at work for instance, it's not enough for him to say that he has been lusting. He needs to tell himself that he is committing adultery before God in his heart. To me that makes the sin more for what it really is and really helps us to repent of it correctly.

Host: You mentioned spending meaningful alone time with the Lord. And one of the things I've learned is that when I'm with the Lord in that quiet time, I need to be really honest with the Lord about what it is that's in my heart. And as you mentioned, we have a tendency to want to make it look better than it really is. But if I really want God to be able to get at that thing that needs changing, then I've got to be honest about what that thing is.

Jeff: Yeah. Sometimes when it comes to things like adultery in our heart, we almost don't need the Holy Spirit to point it out to us. We just know that we are wrong because God's Word is so clear about it. But we all have pockets of iniquity that maybe aren't as easy to see, and we need God's help to reveal those to us.

Host: Well, talk about the difference between sin and iniquities.

Jeff: In the Bible we see things like, lying, fornication, stealing, or cursing. These are obvious. The Scripture is pretty clear about that. But when we're talking about iniquities, we're talking about things that aren't as obvious and we need God to help us see them. These are things like our attitudes towards situations or people, things like envy, selfish ambition, or coveting. These things are kind of in the background of our character. Unbelief even is a big blind spot for many, because a lot of times we don't equate that with sin. I remember God making it real to me one day where He says that the children of Israel had an evil heart of unbelief. That really hit home for me. I don't want to be in that kind of unbelief.

Host: We see this work out clearly for the men that come into our Residential Program. They come here and they want to be done with the sin of pornography or other sexual sin. But really when we see a real work begin to happen in their lives is when God begins to go after, as you phrased it, these iniquities deeper in their hearts, things maybe they've never seen before and have never realized were perhaps at the root of their sexual addiction.

Jeff: Yeah. And it's important that we understand that as we're turning from those things, we will find out that that's what's been hindering God moving in our lives. And I know for me, the sense I have is that God is always trying to help me and He's trying to remove things in my life that are hindering Him from doing that.

Host: Well, Jeff, for the individual out there who maybe has dealt with the obvious sin in their life, but there is a hunger in their hearts to have God go deeper and to have a more intimate relationship with Him, what do they do? Where do they begin?

Jeff: Well, I know for myself, I must come to the Word of God. I have to come to the Lord with a sincere heart and understand that I don't see things correctly. And a lot of times I encourage people to pray the last two verses in Psalm 139 where it says, “Search me, oh God. Try me. Know my heart.” I need to be willing to let God do that. I need to let the Word of God read me.
         The Bible tells us in Hebrews 4 that the Word is living and is able to discern our thoughts. God's Word will do that if we come to it sincerely and ask the Lord to show us if there is anything in our lives or in our hearts that's hindering Him from doing His work in us. Or if there is anything that we need to repent or turn away from. And God's always been faithful in my life to show me the things I need to see. Then I find the joy of turning away from those things and turning to Him.

Host: It takes courage to do that.

Jeff: Yeah, and confidence really in who He is. And that really, He's just wanting me to draw near to Him.

Host: Yes. And with that perspective, He does give us the courage to step forward and say, “Lord, I just want to be honest, I want to lay my heart bare before you.” And as you said, He is so faithful to do it.

Jeff: He is.

Jeff Colón is a minister of the Assemblies of God. He held various positions during his 22 years with Pure Life Ministries. Jeff holds an MDiv and BA in Biblical Counseling from Master’s International School of Divinity. He recently branched out on his own, launching Lighthouse Biblical Counseling Center in Dry Ridge, Kentucky.

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