Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent…
— Revelation 2:5
In this modern age, people want to be comforted and told that everything is going to be all right. But the truth is, some things are not going to be all right in people’s lives unless they make a decision to repent and change. In those cases, it is sometimes up to us to love people enough to be honest with them, no matter how painful it is for them to hear the truth. This type of spiritual pain is good for people to experience because it makes them aware that things are not right between them and God.
You may remember from the March 18 Sparkling Gem that the word “repent” is the Greek word metanoeo and means a change of mind, repentance, or conversion. The Septuagint used this word in the Old Testament to depict the prophet’s call to the people to turn or to change their attitudes and ways.
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In the New Testament, metanoeo, or “repent,” has the same meaning, but the force is much stronger. It demands a decision to completely change or to entirely turn around in the way one is thinking, believing, or living. This word “repent” gives the image of a person changing from top to bottom — a total transformation wholly affecting every part of a person’s life.
Because Christ loves us, He often confronts us with painful truths about ourselves and then calls on us to repent. At that point, we must make the decision to turn from the sin in our lives and remove every action, attitude, or relationship from our lives that grieves Him and hurts us.
In Revelation 2:5, Jesus didn’t mitigate the truth; rather, He had a straightforward confrontation with the Ephesians as He told them that they had allowed their relationship with Him to slip. This congregation was viewed as the model church — an example for churches throughout other parts of the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, Jesus said its members and leadership were “fallen” compared to what they had experienced earlier with Him. The passionate, on-fire relationship they had once enjoyed with Jesus had slipped away as they became lost in the sophistication of ministry.
When the pastor of the Ephesian church heard this message from Christ, it must have pained his heart; yet it was his responsibility as the messenger of the church to pass this message on to the entire congregation. One can only imagine the pain these early believers felt when they heard Jesus’ words to them, urging them to put everything on pause and to take the time to remember the intimate relationship they had enjoyed with Him in the past. It must have profoundly affected the Ephesian congregation when they compared their passionate love for Christ in those earlier days to the body of believers they had become — spiritually sophisticated but distant from the Lord in their hearts.
Psalm 51 provides a vivid example of genuine repentance and is, in fact, called David’s psalm of repentance. In this psalm, one can sense not only David’s sorrow but also his decision to change. In verse 17, he wrote about a heart that is broken over sin: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” The word “contrite” is the Old Testament expression for someone who is genuinely repentant for what he has done. This is a person who has recognized his wrong, decided to change, and now desires to live uprightly.
This was the spiritual condition to which Christ was calling the congregation of Ephesus. He confronted them with the truth: that although they had continued to serve Jesus and to faithfully go through the motions, little by little their spiritual zeal had begun to wane. Then He compelled them to acknowledge — just as He compels us today — that they needed to repent and return to Him, thereby rekindling the fire that once burned so brightly in their hearts.
When necessary, Christ calls entire churches to repent. Besides the churches in the book of Revelation, another scriptural example is the Corinthian congregation, to whom Paul brought correction for their many acts of carnality. When the Corinthian believers received Paul’s first letter and recognized that God was speaking to them through the apostle, they were moved with fear to purge themselves of the sin in their midst that had grieved the Holy Spirit. This willingness to change was the proof that true repentance had occurred. The indisputable transformation that occurred in the Corinthian church was sufficient evidence for Paul to declare in his second letter that they had cleared themselves in the matters where they had previously been wrong (see 2 Corinthians 7:9-11). God’s goal in confronting His Church is always to produce cleansing, transformation, and restoration.
Today Jesus is still crying out for the Church to repent of worldliness and carnality. As is true in each generation, today we have a choice: to harden our hearts and turn a deaf ear to the Holy Spirit, or to allow Him to deal deeply with us and produce genuine repentance in our hearts and souls. Although Christ is always ready to transform His Church, no transformation can occur unless we are willing to hear what His Spirit is saying to us. And once we do hear that divine message, we must be willing to respond with humble obedience, just as the Corinthian church did.
This was the case for the church at Ephesus. Jesus was calling this congregation to recognize their fallen state and to take visible steps to demonstrate that they were sincere about restoring their passion for Him. But how does a fallen church or a wayward believer restore that fire that once burned so brightly? That is exactly what we will discuss in tomorrow’s Sparkling Gem!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, I thank You for speaking to me about my need to repent — that is, to change the way I’ve been thinking and living. Truthfully, I’ve been consumed with serving You more than I have been consumed with just loving You, as I once did in the past. I’ve become so busy that I don’t read my Bible as I once did; I don’t pray as I once did; and I’ve drifted from the passionate fire that once burned in my heart. I am busy and involved, but my relationship with You is distant compared to the intimate communion we once shared years ago. For all this I repent. Today I hear Your voice calling me back into meaningful fellowship. Forgive me for my spiritual lethargy, and set me ablaze with the Spirit of God!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I declare that I am on-fire for Jesus Christ. I have repented for allowing a lukewarm attitude to work inside me, and I ask God to make me a bonfire for the Kingdom of God! I confess that I burn with passion and with the power of God. I am consumed with a desire to see lost souls come to Christ. I long to see the power of God even more than I once did. I humble myself before the Lord. I hear His voice, and I submit myself to God and to His service in a fresh, new way.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- What were you like when you first repented and came to Christ? What were you like when you were first filled with the Holy Spirit? If you compare who you are today compared to who you were back then, what would be the big difference?
- First John 1:9 guarantees cleansing for believers who confess sin and repent. It literally guarantees cleansing! What does that verse mean to you? I’ll tell you up front that it means a lot to me!
- What are the fruits of repentance? In other words, what are the outward signs that a person has genuinely repented? Can you make a list of all the things that accompany real repentance?