"Clear the Air"
TEXT: Acts 3:19-20; Psalm 51; 1 Cor. 15:33-34
1. The Biblical term “iniquity” refers to the crooked, distorted, and perverted efforts of humanity to navigate life in a way that brings about human flourishing. Our obedience is often lacking, misdirected, or misinformed, which brings about the presence of iniquity in our hearts. Additionally, the term “transgression” is also used throughout Scripture to describe human sin. Transgression refers to an act that goes against the commands of God; the term essentially describes the proclivity of humans to go too far (over or past the line).
2. True repentance calls us to: (1) approach God, (2) assume personal responsibility for our sin, (3) accept God’s forgiveness, (4) accept the consequences of our sin, and (5) ask God to change hearts.
3. It is natural to withdraw from the presence of God after we have sinned (this happened in Eden following our first parents’ disobedient act). And just like Adam and Eve sought to cover their nakedness and shame with fig leaves, humanity still seeks to “cover” their personal sin and distract themselves from the reality that they are not in right relationship with their Creator.
4. In order to truly repent one must assume responsibility for their sin. It is tempting to respond to our sinfulness in a manner that shifts the blame and responsibility away from us. We often seek to legitimize, rationalize, and justify our sin. Responding to sin in this way will never lead to true repentance and freedom.
5. The enemy of our souls—and often our own sinful flesh—works very hard to condemn us and make believers feel alienated from God and His Kingdom. The Lord is quick to forgive and offers grace to His children, but we often make the mistake of carrying the guilt and shame we feel over our sin even after we have confessed and dealt with it before the Lord. It may seem virtuous to have a ‘low’ view of self, but nothing could be further from the biblical truth.
6. Sin has consequences that do not simply go away once we have confessed and repented. God forgives us when we confess but He does not wipe away all the consequences that may arise from our personal sin. True repentance calls every believer to accept the consequences of their past sin while moving ahead towards spiritual growth and maturity.
7. It should not come as a surprise that prayer plays a critically important role in true repentance. We must humbly ask the Lord to change our hearts and the hearts of others. As we intercede and battle sin, we will notice the Lord changing our desires, thoughts, and motivations. True repentance does not only shape our external actions, but more importantly it directs internal changes that make us more like Christ.
8. Keeping bad "company" with certain practices will inevitably corrupt our hearts and minds. Don’t keep company with: (1) lustful practices, (2) lying, (3) apathy towards God’s Kingdom, (4) anger, (5) having and exercising a critical spirit, (6) laziness, (7) gossip, (8) mistreating your family, (9) having a love-less heart, and (10) self-hatred.
TALK TO EACH OTHER:
1. What would you consider to be some of the ways in which humanity presently uses ‘fig leaves’ to “cover” their sin?
2. How does a believer move past the sin (and the emotions associated with it) after they have confessed and repented?
3. What could be some of the reasons behind the Lord allowing His children to experience the consequences of our sin?
4. There is sin and personal weaknesses that seemingly require a lot of time and effort to get out of our lives. Can you think of how the world, your flesh, and the devil has tried to steer you away from true repentance as you have battled a particular sin over a long period of time? What are some of the thoughts and temptations one may face during a lengthier period of confession and repentance?
5. What are some signs of having a critical spirit? How will having a critical spirit lead you away from the Lord and His Kingdom?
TALK TO GOD:
Pray as you feel led concerning the following areas:
- For God to change hearts and for our church to experience true repentance
- To break company with the things that direct our hearts away from God's presence