Malankara World

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Sermon / Homily on Repentance

A Life of Repentance

by Ralph Bouma

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9.

True repentance alters the whole character of the man. He becomes a reflector of the character of God. It is a realization of the sinfulness of sin, and how displeasing sin is to God. True repentance is a realization that you are a guilty sinner before God, and that every sin requires the precious blood of Christ for cleansing, or the eternal wrath of God upon yourself. When you start to understand the consequences of sin and how that every sin required the cleansing of Christ's blood, and what Christ did to purchase our salvation, then sin becomes so abominable. Then the slightest thought of sin makes us so ashamed. Then we see how sin has been the destruction of our souls.

In Matthew 3:5-6 we read: "Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." The first prerequisite to baptism is confessing our sins. We see that we are sinners before God.

Continuing in verses 7 and 8 we read: "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance."

In other words, let me understand by what I see in your attitude and walk of life, let me see that there has been a transformation of your will, that you have become willing to serve under the kingship and under the yoke and the scepter of Christ. Let me see this by your conduct, by your words and by your actions.

Repentance is not a one-time act. It is a progressive, lifelong process of confession. Repentance is a daily thing. We find that we all offend in many things. We offend daily. We need a constant confession of how we fall short.

In my own experience, I have found it only gets deeper and deeper and deeper. What I find today, when I think back and look into the things I thought, said and did in my youth, it makes my heart fail. But at the time I did not see anything wrong with those things. I didn't even consider them as sins. As we grow in the knowledge of Christ, and we grow in the knowledge of the sinfulness of sin, and we start to see what sin really is, then we have to cry out with David, My sins of youth remember not. We continue to see the depth and corruption of our sins. Christ wants to see a transformation of our wills and minds. He wants to see a new creature and that we have been delivered from the power of that rebellion, of that filth of sin. Then you are a proper candidate for baptism. It is not just a one-time act.

Now we see the preciousness of what salvation is. See the word if in the previous verse. We have to come guilty before God.

Once I felt forgiven by the Lord of a certain sin, and He had forgiven me in such a precious way. Then a week later I began to again confess before the Lord about that particular sin, and He stopped me to the point where it seemed like my blood stopped circulating. All of a sudden the Lord opened my eyes to see that that sin had been cast behind His back into that sea of everlasting forgetfulness. Don't slap it back in my face; that was quite an experience. When the Father delivers us from sin and cleanses us, it is to be remembered no more. This lifelong work of repentance produces the poverty of spirit, mourning over sin, and the meekness Jesus spoke of in the beatitudes. That is the fruit of believing. Believing produces the work of repentance. Amen.

Come, let us to the Lord our God with contrite hearts return;
Our God is gracious, nor will leave the desolate to mourn.

His voice commands the tempest forth, and stills the stormy wave;
And, though His arm be strong to smite, 'tis also strong to save.

John Morison, 1781

Excerpted from the sermon 'HE THAT BELIEVETH & HE THAT BELIEVETH NOT' by Ralph Bauma

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Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for Nineveh Lent

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