By Jeff Foerster
Ick. I feel like I need to wash my soul. There’s so much sin being exalted everywhere I look and listen. The stench is almost palpable. My eyes are assaulted and my ears bombarded with tales from this mad, mad world. Evil is celebrated and good is denigrated. For the unrighteous there are parades and guest appearances and accolades heralding courage. The righteous receive scorn and abuse.
I could sit with you and spout example after example of our wayward culture and the broken people we champion. I could explain how shame has been banished to a foreign land while new ways of doing evil are eagerly pursued and found greatly amusing by the many. I could and you could as well, but to what end? It’s easy to get lost in the fog of it all. But find our way out we must.
We grieve over the state of our country. We want our culture to repent. But do we recognize our own sin? Do we grieve over our sin? Is there mourning in the house of God? What I speak of is our need for repentance. We began this way. Every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ began their journey with it. Far from being a one-time event, repentance is a daily need for every Christian. It’s a way of life. When I repent I am agreeing with God that the sin in my life stinks. I am calling it what it is: not a “mistake” I have made, but evil I have chosen. I declare that it hurts the God who died for me and mars the relationship between us.
Repentance begins when each of us takes an honest look inside our own heart. Paul encourages us to pursue this evaluation of self; as he writes in 1 Corinthians 11:31, “But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (by God). I write this to you knowing that just as Scripture says judgment begins with the house of God (1 Peter 4:17), judgment falls on my own heart with the pouring out of these words. How can I help those drowning in our culture if I have sin unresolved within me (Matthew 7:3-5)?
This life of repentance requires a knowledge of sin. Instead of looking to my neighbor to determine right and wrong, I must turn toward God and His instruction, written for us in the Bible. Regular reading, listening, and studying provides a foundation of truth. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7).
What if I still don’t know, or can’t put a name to, my sin? Ask of God and He will help. It is His joy for you to be purged of sin, being conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). Furthermore, David prays, “Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I shall be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression” (Psalm 19:13).
It’s true one needn’t be a Pharisee to find fault in our generation, but our first order of business must be to face our own lives with a sense of humility before our Righteous Judge. If you care about our country, if you care about our culture, if you care about the lost ones whom Jesus loves, start off this year with a bang! I invite you to join me in making a resolution for 2014. Better than exercising more or eating healthier, this resolution will truly change your life and the lives of others, forever:
“I resolve to spend 2014 in daily repentance of my sin before our holy God.”
—Who’s with me?