Sunday, February 28, 2016

Taking Steps Toward Genuine Repentance

Taken from

By Joe Dallas

... When you repent, you reject a behavior by separating yourself from it. That's the acid test of true repentance.

If you've been using Internet pornography, for example, you'll separate yourself from it by any means necessary. You'll either get a filter or a new service provider, or you'll give your password to someone who can log you in and monitor your on-line activities. Or, if all else fails, you'll get rid of the Internet altogether. ...

If you've been involved in an adulterous relationship, you'll separate yourself from the other person by severing communication. Or if you've been into commercial sex--prostitutes, strip bars, massage parlors--you'll avoid the areas where those services are available. If you've been having sex with your girlfriend, you and she will commit to never being alone together in a place where sex would be possible. In all cases, the overriding principle is this: find practical ways to separate yourself from the acting out and from whatever draws you back into it.


But repentance isn't just about separation. It's about preparation as well--preparation against the temptation to return to the behavior you've rejected.

That sounds cynical, doesn't it? After all, if you've had a crisis of truth over your sin, then surely (you would think) that sin would be the last thing you'd ever think of returning to!

And sure--for a time the thought of it may be repulsive. But you and I have a problem we may as well face: any experience we've found pleasurable or meaningful has been recorded--deeply and graphically--in our brains, where it's filed away for future reference. So what the heart rejects, the brain still stores up in its memory banks.

The sin you've rejected today may appeal to you tomorrow because, unfortunately, it's always available. So let me encourage you to assume that, no matter how sincere your repentance is, at some point you'll be tempted to return to the behavior you've rejected.

Even the apostle Paul kept himself prepared and admitted, "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Paul was inarguably a new creation: an apostle, teacher, and evangelist. But he didn't see himself as being above the pull of temptation. He stayed prepared, and like a boxer who knows he might be challenged at any time, he stayed in fighting trim. So if Paul recognized the power of temptation and stayed prepared for it, then you and I don't dare do any less.


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