Theology doesn’t work when God shows up… but repentance does. My heart has been asking questions about the need for repentance. Some of the genuine revivals around the world are happening because Christians are repenting of their sins. The greater the presence of the Lord, the greater the conviction by the Holy Spirit. The word “repentance” basically refers to a change of mind so as to produce remorse on account of sin. Repentance also refers to a change of heart, mind, and purpose after the knowledge of sin was known. It is to a repentant heart that remission of sin is promised. True repentance consists of one’s own guilt and sinfulness, and a reliance on God’s mercy and grace. True repentance produces a hatred for sin within your own heart and it causes you to turn from it, so much so that holiness living, with great joy, is the by-product of it.
In Revelation 18:4-5, the Christians were commanded to come out of a system that has defiled the whole earth. The sins listed in that chapter are listed by Jesus in Mark 7:20-23, “It is the thought-life that pollutes. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts of lust, theft, murder, adultery, wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, pride, and all other folly. All these vile things come from within; they are what pollute you and make you unfit for God” (TLB). This is why the Holy Spirit is seeking repentant hearts. He wants to purify your thought life. A good example of this is seen in Isaiah 6:1-10. Jesus referred to this passage of Scripture when He said in John 12:41, “These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him” (KJV).
Isaiah 6:1-4… King Uzziah had died. It was a blow to the nation. Isaiah the prophet comes into the temple to inquire certain things of God. He sees God’s glory. King Uzziah brought the nation into prosperity. The people were more concerned with their own belly being full than with the need for God in their lives. They saw themselves only. They saw only the things that concerned them, their importance, their own fullness. Isaiah comes into the temple and he sees God’s fullness. He sees God’s glory and angels crying “Holy, holy, holy.” The angels saw nothing but the nature of God. Today, people come to church and want to see blessing, healing, and prosperity. God calls for repentance because He wants the people to see Him. God calls for repentance so that His people can get a revelation of Him. God calls for repentance so that His people can get a revelation of their own sinful religious hearts. Without the Holy Spirit’s revelation of God, you will never be convinced that you need to repent.
In the temple, Isaiah saw the Lord. The word Lord here is Adonay, a word that describes God’s sovereignty, headship, authority, and ownership. Christians must see that it is the Lord who must be the authority in their lives. In the temple Isaiah saw that the Lord was ruling and reigning. He saw that God was in control. Have we forgotten that the Lord is in control of His church? The Lord calls for repentance because he wants the people to see His authority in their lives and in the life of the church. In the temple Isaiah saw the Lord worshipped “high and lifted up” (v. 1). Not only must we see the Lord worshipped, but we must also worship. In Revelation 5:12 we see a seven-fold praise for Jesus… “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (KJV). In the temple we must see what the seraphim saw. They saw purity and holiness. So glorious was it that they covered their faces and their bodies. This is why the Spirit calls for repentance. Jesus must increase and we must decrease.
Repentance is needed because without His presence, we have a tendency to show our own glory. The nature of man wants to be seen. “Look, Lord, look at me, look at my gifts, my talents, my achievements, my successes, my status.” In the temple we must see Jesus as the Lord of Hosts. This is His warfare name. It tells us that the battle is the Lord’s. He deals with the things we have been struggling with. His presence can handle any devil, any sickness, and any sin that traps us into its net. In the temple we must see that His glory is for the whole earth. Repentance is needed because we do things without the Lord. Repentance is needed because most people just see their own assembly. We need to repent because we see too much of what the devil is doing and not enough of what God is doing. Many preachers boast of the increase of people in their church, but the pastor down the street cries out to God, “Lord, that church just took fifty of our members.” This is why repentance is needed. Pride boasts. In God’s eyes, pride stinks (Proverbs 16:5). A Christian is never the same after seeing the Lord. I know… I’ve seen Him at different times, talked with Him, touched Him, was caught up in the atmosphere, saw the conditions of churches and pastors… It changed me… quieted me… separated me.
Isaiah 6:5-10… When Isaiah saw the Lord, he was convicted in his spirit. He was undone, not by a fiery sermon, but by the Holy Spirit. We need “undoing” once in a while. When Job saw the Lord, he abhorred himself (Job 42:5-6). When Peter saw Jesus, he said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8, KJV). When the apostle John saw Jesus, he fell down “as dead” (Revelation 1:17). Conviction produces repentance. Isaiah said, “I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Did his thought-life produce a dirty mouth, swearing, or off-color humor? Was he a liar? Was he full of anger and criticism? We do not know. Isaiah received a fiery cleansing directly from heaven. A seraphim touched him; no man laid hands on him. God demands cleanness of heart and life. We need to look to see if we’re slobs on the inside. It’s the thought-life that pollutes.
After the repentance and the cleansing, the Spirit points us to the harvest. “Whom shall I send?” (Isaiah 6:8) I heard that call in January 1947. I had been home from WWII a little over a year. What a vision, what a call… It’s still alive in me. The call produced training and a ministry. Isaiah became a prophet; I became a pastor-teacher. You may be called to some other ministry suited just for you–there are thousands of needs. The Spirit has a work for every believer. With the call and the obedience to the call, the Spirit will give you a message. “Go and tell this people.” Too many want to go overseas right away; however, the need may be right next door. The man or the woman God commissions, He anoints and sends.
Jesus said, “These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him” (John 12:41, KJV). Theology doesn’t work when God shows up, but repentance does.
Pastor George Belobaba
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