Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here's Henry Blackaby.

Henry Blackaby: I believe that in the time when we give an account to God for everything that's happened in our life, the one great tragedy may well be that God says, “Let Me show you what could have been. Let Me show you what could have been if you had only been right with Me, if you had only gotten My grace applied into your life, if you had only not turned aside from My grace. You know that the resurrection power could set you free, but you lived in bondage for ten years. Let Me tell you what could have been during those ten years if you'd only believed Me.”

Leslie: It's Wednesday, October 3, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been leading women in discovering the joy of personal revival. We've spent time studying humility and honesty—both characteristics of genuine revival. This week she's been telling us about another important element of revival—repentance. It's all part of the series called Seeking Him, and Nancy's here to introduce today's message.

Nancy: As we're continuing in this process of seeking Him, we've come this week to what I think is one of the most important and yet one of the most neglected concepts in the church today, and that is the whole matter of repentance.

One of the most powerful messages that I've ever heard on the subject of repentance was given by my friend, Dr. Henry Blackaby, back in 1995. We want to share portions of that message with you today and tomorrow, but let me give you just a little bit of the context for this particular message.

Approximately 4,000 Christian workers from a large, international ministry had come together for their bi-annual staff training. The leadership of that ministry had felt a great burden for God to send revival to their own staff, so they had asked me to come and share my heart with the staff that week. In the weeks leading up to that conference, as I prayed and sought the Lord about what He would want me to share with those staff, I felt prompted to speak on the subject of brokenness.

A couple of weeks ago on this series, we aired a portion of that message, and perhaps you've heard the account of how God, by the power of His Spirit, moved in such a significant way in the hearts of those staff that morning. After I sat down from speaking that morning, for the next twelve hours or more, one staff member after another came to the microphone in that vast auditorium and shared how God had convicted them of issues that they needed to make right with the Lord. It was an awesome, amazing time in God's presence.

In God's Providence, the ministry had invited Dr. Blackaby to come and speak to the staff the following day. I still remember, as Dr. Blackaby came in the evening before he was to speak, he sat in the audience and listened as one staff member after another poured out their hearts with these confessions that were weighing so heavily on them. What a sweet thing it was for me to sit and listen the next day as Dr. Blackaby stood before the staff, and in a pastoral way, spoke to the staff from God's Word about the process of repentance.

He urged them to allow God to take the work of repentance as deep into their hearts as was necessary. I know that God's Spirit has been stirring in the hearts of many of our listeners as we're in this series on Seeking Him. I want to encourage you to listen carefully to Dr. Blackaby's message on repentance and ask God to help you view your sin as He views it so that you can come before Him with a broken and a contrite heart. That is the heart that God receives, the heart that He will cleanse, and the heart that will receive the fullness of God's grace. Let's listen now to Dr. Blackaby and hear what he shared with 4,000 Christian workers that day in 1995.

Dr. Henry Blackaby: Could I suggest that for some of you the sin in your life has been there for a prolonged period of time. Because sin has ingrained itself in your life for a profound length of time, it has affected your character? God can forgive your sin just like that, but it takes time for God to rebuild your character. Some of you may discover that the encounter with God where He forgives you is the beginning of a process of repentance. Because some things have been left in your life for a long period of time, your character needs to be restructured.

It took God 40 years to restructure Moses' character until he was adequately equipped by God to lead His people. He showed some character flaw, and character takes longer to develop. Don't be discouraged when God goes to change your character, and it takes a little longer. To forgive your sin, He does it instantly; to change you to be the person He's looking for takes a little longer, and it's a process that you go through. That's why it's important that the Word of God become your guide.

There are some things that have happened in your time of sin that will be there the rest of your life. You'll have to take what sin has done, and you'll have to experience the grace of God helping you work through that for the rest of your life. He does not remove it. He forgives you, but the sin often has such a dimension about it, especially when it is done by leaders, that will not be removed in your lifetime. You'll have to live with it and let the grace of God guide you to have victory for the rest of your life.

You never need to live one moment outside the victory that's in Christ. Paul says, “Thanks be unto God who always causes us to triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14, KJV). That is a fact. You can live in the triumphal victory that is in Christ, though as with the apostle Paul, you may carry the marks of what you have done and what has happened to you the rest of your life. 

God will choose not to remove it but to give you and make you an expression of the dimensions of His grace, unknown if He had just removed it. We'll talk just a little bit about that in a moment.

It is very, very crucial for you to understand how central repentance is to God. You're aware that the very first preaching of Jesus is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is right next to you.” The very first preaching of John the Baptist was, “Repent.”

Heaven's message to the people of God is, “Repent.” That message was not given first to the world. It was given to the people of God because, as goes the people of God, so goes the rest of the world. The redemptive purpose of God rests on His people, and so every time I hear the name Jesus, I say, “O God, would you look into my heart and deal with me? Is there any remnant of sin that's working in my heart?”

Every time I hear the name Jesus, I know the name was given to deliver me from my sin. As I am delivered from my sin, God has a highway of my life to take His Word to the rest of the world. We celebrate the name Jesus.

All of us have that trembling sense, “O God, search me and test me and see if there's anything in me, because the name Jesus was to deliver us and me from my sin so that You have a people cleansed and holy through whom You can touch the rest of the world.” I pray that every time you use the name Jesus, there'll be a continuous process of repentance in your heart; that the name of Jesus itself will keep you in a daily relationship with Him where you're of use to God.

Speaking again to His own people, the seriousness of repentance is caught in Luke 13 when His people were talking to Him about a tragedy that had happened, and He looked solemnly at them and said, “I want you to know, unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish” (verse 3, paraphrase). It was no light matter for Him. It was either repent or perish.

Could I suggest to you that's the case in every one of our lives? We're not talking, if we're a Christian, about eternal damnation. But I can tell you that if we do not repent regularly, systematically, it immediately brings the judgment of God. The judgment of God does not wait. It starts the moment we sin, and it gathers momentum.

As I listen to some of you, you are describing how, with anger and bitterness, things have gotten worse and worse and worse. I said to myself, “That's exactly why Jesus calls for immediate repentance.” If you do not immediately turn in mind and heart and soul and life and lifestyle from that which God calls sin, it will start to destroy you. It will start to eliminate your ministry. It will start to eliminate your family. It will separate you with your children.

Sin is an awful thing with God. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” In the 19th chapter of Luke, He pronounced that perishing on Jerusalem and Judea because they would not repent, and it cost them their lives.

The Lord Jesus says repentance is absolutely crucial. I want to turn to the apostle Paul for just a moment. If you have your Bibles, turn to 2 Corinthians 5:9. Then I'll go back to the classic place in the Scriptures for an understanding of repentance, which is Psalm 51. In Psalm 51 you catch sin from David's perspective, but you have to turn to 2 Samuel 12 to catch that same sin from God's perspective. That's what I want to share with you.

I just want you to feel the heartbeat of the apostle Paul concerning sin. Verse nine of 2 Corinthians five, he says, “Therefore we make it our aim [a choice in our life], whether present or absent, to be well-pleasing to Him” (NKJV).

Much of our burden that we shared yesterday was broken relationships with people—parents, people who were co-laborers, others, but the greatest tragedy of all is what happens between us and our Lord. David was right when he says, “Against thee, and thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil” (Psalm 51:4, KJV). 

Repentance is always toward God, and the apostle Paul was saying, “Oh, I make it my determined purpose that at all times, under all conditions, that I would be pleasing to Him.” Now, he gives two reasons, and I just want to briefly touch on them. Then we'll illustrate it from David's life.

He said, “The reason I make it a choice, above every other choice in my life, whatever else is happening in my life, the one thing that I desire is to be pleasing to my Lord because we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in his body,” or the body, “according to what he has done, whether it is good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10, paraphrase). Then, in much of our thinking, we would change the sentence that follows.

We would have a tendency to say, “Knowing therefore the grace of God, knowing therefore the love of God,” but that's not the heart of Paul. He said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11, KJV). If you ever lose the fear of God, you'll never adequately repent.

The apostle Paul says, “I know that I must stand before the Lord and give an account for my life. Therefore, knowing the terror of the Lord, we are persuading others, primarily God's people, as well as the lost, [and then he adds], and we are well-known by God” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11, paraphrase).

I suppose there's nothing that has stretched my heart before the Lord any more thoroughly than understanding what Paul is saying from this perspective.

I believe that in the time when we give an account to God for everything that's happened in our life, the one great tragedy may well be that God says, “Let Me show you what could have been. Let Me show you what could have been if you had only been right with Me, if you had only gotten My grace applied into your life, if you had only not turned aside from My grace. You knew that My cross could forgive you, but you turned aside and tried to make things right yourself. You know that the resurrection power could set you free, but you lived in bondage for ten years. Let Me tell you what could have been during those ten years if you had only believed Me.”

If you know the Lord, you don't have to live one moment beyond your sin. He says the moment you confess your sin, He'll deal with it. Don't let sin reign in your body because at that moment, God intends to do some incredible things through your life, and the timing of it is enormous.

The timing of God does not wait on your repentance. I live with that awesome sense, “O Spirit of God, when You convict me of my sin, help me to know that there's an awful lot more at stake than just my comfort zone. Lord, it's not just that I want to live a comfortable life. There's a huge dimension of kingdom work that rests on my repentance.” Ao the apostle Paul says, “I want to please my Lord, and I know that we'll all stand before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord,” and then he could say, “and I am well-known to God.”

Now, I want to turn you for a moment to David's life, but I want you to see it from two perspectives: first from David's perspective, and then from God's. You'll see a difference in how David saw his sin and how God saw his sin.

Turn to Psalm 51. We have much sympathy with David. Could I suggest to you in these moments, that our sympathies always lie with David, not with God, and could I say with a broken heart, folks, we've got to have a greater sympathy for the heart of God than we have?

God sees our sin as much more serious than we do. Now, human language could not have described the agony of sin in David's life any more than this, and I could say to any of you that may have fallen in this same way that David did, I pray that your repentance and depth of sorrow will go far beyond David. Look at David. He gives us some instruction from our point of view.

First of all, he asks for mercy. Mercy means that God withholds from you what you rightly deserve. Could I suggest to you that God is under no obligation to forgive you? He's under no obligation to withhold the judgment upon your sin. The moment you and I sin, the justice of God requires that He deal with it, and He is not under obligation to forgive us. He does because of His mercy.

He withholds what we rightly deserve so He can give us what we don't deserve. Therefore, repentance is crucial in the process. So he says, “Have mercy on me.” David's first cry, when he knew he had sinned, is for the mercy of God to be his, “And do it according to Your lovingkindness. Blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly. Cleanse me. I acknowledge my transgressions against Thee, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51, paraphrase).

Then comes this incredible statement. “Against Thee and Thee only have I sinned and done this evil, while You were watching, in Your sight.” (Psalm 51:4, paraphrase). Do you know that a Christian always sins with the eyes of God watching him? You can never sin outside the watching eyes of God.

It is done in the sight of God. It's done in the presence of God. It's done under the presence of the Spirit of God and the presence of the living Christ who is within us and the Father who has purposed redemption for us.

Our sin is never done in secret. Our sin is never done in secret. It is always done in the blazing sight of God, and David says, “It was against You and You only.”

If when people have done evil to you, you respond with bitterness and anger, then your problem is not what they've done to you but how you've responded to what they've done to you. God says, “Did you not see how I forgave you? Did you not see? Don't you remember Calvary? Don't you remember the cross?

“Did I not tell you that you would receive many things? Why did you respond against what I told you to do? You didn't need to respond in anger and bitterness. You could have responded in brokenness, and you could have responded with My love within you. You could have covered over that with your love for them.” I find that if bitterness begins to raise in my heart, it is an offense to God.

Bitterness in the heart of a Christian means that he has canceled the saving work of God being displayed in his life. It had brought shame to the heart of God, and so I come and say, “O God, my mind would say I'm perfectly justified, but I can't look into Your heart and receive Your forgiveness and receive Your grace into my life and ever not return it when I am put upon.”

As you look at David, he's talking about his sin being against God alone. Then he has an awesome word. I'm going to not go through the whole psalm at all, but he said, “Lord, You desire truth in the inward part. God, on the inside, I've not been as truthful, and I've not been truthful on the outside. O God, I want the outside and the inside to be as truthful to You. You desire truth in the inward part, and in the hidden part, You will make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6 NKJV). David cries out for the extensive work of God and rightly so.

Nancy: Well, those are sober, searching words from Dr. Henry Blackaby. We'll hear the rest of Dr. Blackaby's message tomorrow, but I don't want us to bypass the conviction that God's Spirit may be bringing to our hearts right now. Is your heart like David's, crying out for an extensive work of God in your life? If so, why don't you just join me in this prayer?

Lord, we recognize that You desire truth in the inner part, in the hidden part of our lives, and O God, how I pray that You'll search my own heart, that You will help me to view my sin as You view it, to take it as seriously as You take it. I pray that You'll grant the gift of deep, heart-felt, life-changing repentance.

Lord, how greatly we need Your mercy, for we have trivialized sin! Help us to view ourselves and You and our sin as You do, and then would You wash us and cleanse us? Purify our hearts. For Jesus' sake we pray it, amen.

Leslie: That's Nancy Leigh DeMoss praying all of us will demonstrate genuine repentance. Today's program is part of a week-long focus on repentance, and this week-long focus is part of a twelve-week series called Seeking Him. If you genuinely prayed with Nancy or if you were convicted today, you've taken a step in experiencing personal revival.

Would you come deeper? Get a copy of Nancy's workbook Seeking Him. It's a twelve-week study that will transform your relationship with God and other people. Learn more about repentance, humility, honesty, and other marks of genuine revival. We'll send you the Seeking Him workbook when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts. Just call 1-800-569-5959, or go online to ReviveOurHearts.com.

Do you look at sin from your point of view or God's point of view? Henry Blackaby will address that question tomorrow. I hope you can be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scriptures are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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