Sunday, June 30, 2013

Horizontal or Vertical Repentance, which do you practice?

I have noticed as of late that some people, who are aware of my convictions, are apologizing to me when they realize they have used profanity around me.  This has happened in the past as well, but for some reason I have noticed it a lot lately.  It's not that I mind that my presence and the knowledge of my convictions causes people to adjust their habits.  I am glad for that.  My thought is that, I am not the one they should apologize or repent toward.  Now, before I go any further let me clarify that if I know a person not to be a professing Christian then I fully appreciate their consideration.  However, some who adjust their behavior or apologize in my presence are professing Christians.  Even more concerning is that there are those who use profanity rather casually at times who don't even seem to mind who is around when they do it.  Anyhow, that's another post.

So here is my question, and one we should all consistently remain aware of.  Do you practice vertical repentance or horizontal repentance?

 In 2 Samuel 12:13, after having stolen the wife of one of his best men, getting her pregnant, and having him killed, David has been confronted by Nathan the prophet.  David's response, "I have sinned against the Lord". Not, gee Nathan, I'm sorry that upsets you or I hope I didn't offend you Nathan.

Repentance means to turn from your sin and run toward God.  In today's society, even professing Christians often have a tendency to have more sorrow for their sins toward those humans they have offended with their sin(horizontal) rather than sorrow toward Jesus for the same sin's that also were committed against God(Vertical).  It's ok to apologize to people you have sinned against but repentance must be vertical.

If your sorrow and repentance is directed at God it will be much more likely to stick than if you direct it horizontally toward those whom you have offended.  You may feel the temptation to debate or even blow off those who strive to hold you accountable if they are the primary ones who are recognizing your sin and making mention of it.  However, if God is the primary target of your repentance then there is no valid argument to be made.  You cannot argue with the word of God if you are interested in growing in your relationship with God.  Jesus prayed that God the Father would sanctify us in the truth for God's word is truth(John 17:17).

In Luke 6:45 Jesus says, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks"Changed hearts bring changed actionsThose who are in Christ are a new creation  The old has passed away behold all things have been made new.(2 Corinthians 5:17)

IF you are in Christ, that should be your hearts desire.

So, do you practice horizontal or vertical repentance?  And, is it sincere?  If you have placed your trust in Jesus and confessed Him as Lord of your life then remember the price he paid for your sins and let that be your primary accountability.

If you have never accepted Christ as Lord and Savior then there is no time like the present.  It is not a get out of jail free card for hell.  It is a be redeemed and live for the eternal goal that God intended at creation, to glorify God and enjoy him forever, for free card.

Except, it is not free.  God in His perfect holiness cannot tolerate sin.  In fact Psalms 5:4-6 says that God hates evildoers.  He hates sin and because sin is a part of sinners he hates sinners and he must destroy them.  That is the way in which God's justice and wrath must manifest themselves in order to defend His holiness. 

And yet God also wants to defend the glory that He created us to enjoy and appreciate to begin with.  All through the Old Testament God is showing his love for his people by giving them second chance after second chance.  The ultimate second chance came in His son Jesus Christ whom HE sent.  Jesus came to become the object of God's wrath so that we as God's creation could have eternal life through HIM.  He paid the price by becoming the punishment for our sins and erasing the guilt of our sins.  Selfless love from a glorious creator.  We all deserve to be destroyed because of our sin.  Christ lived the perfectly sinless life that we could not live and died the death that we deserved to die.

You can have this eternal relationship with the loving heavenly Father and Creator of the Universe.  All you have to do is confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved(Romans 10:9-13)  That's it.  Believe and, as discussed before, repent from your sins. 
Repentance is a continual process that will last the rest of your earthly life. However, if your belief is not merely intellectual ascent but it is true submission to His Lordship, then it will fuel genuine VERTICAL repentance and you will be grateful for the desire to do it.


Love in Christ,


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