Scripture Reading: I Samuel 7:3-6
“And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, ‘If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'” (I Samuel 7:3)
It is hard to believe how bad things had become in Israel. Remember these were the “dark ages” of Israel when everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25). God’s people had been greatly influenced by the pagan culture of the people who lived around them. There was a spiritual void in Israel. Even the priests were corrupt and spiritually depraved. The people had turned to pagan gods and had forsaken the Lord.
Samuel’s call to repentance involved putting away the idols that the people of God were worshiping and serving. True repentance means that we turn from our sinful ways. We must take decisive action against the sin in our lives. We must confess our sins and our unworthiness (I John 1:9). We must be brutally honest about the sin in our lives and turn away from our sinful actions and attitudes.
Repentance also means that we have a change of heart. We must direct our hearts away from our sinful desires and direct them toward the Lord. We must love Him more than we love ourselves and our sinful desires. Until our hearts have been redirected, we cannot put away the idols of our hearts. There has to be a change in the seat of the affections of our hearts. We are to love Jesus more than we love ourselves.
Finally, repentance involves not only a putting off of our sins, but it also involves a putting on. We have to put something else in the place of our sinful actions and desires. We must begin to serve the Lord in a positive way. We must be involved in serving the Lord as we serve others.
The promise is clear — the Lord will deliver us when we truly repent of our sins. The key is “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24). Repentance doesn’t simply mean being sorry for our sins, it also involves taking positive action — putting off the old self, being renewed in our minds and hearts, and putting on the new self.
Heavenly Father, please forgive me for my sinful actions and my sinful desires. I confess that I often love other things more than I love You. I confess that I am guilty of idolatry. Enable me to put away the sinful things I do and to turn my heart to You. Let me love Jesus more than I love myself. I know what it cost Him in order for me to receive Your mercy — the terrible suffering of Calvary. Cleanse me, O God, and renew a right spirit in me so that I can serve You to the best of my ability.
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