Day 3

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A Warfare of Rest – Day Three – True Repentance

So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me,
though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation;
 I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’
So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’
”See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart

that turns away from the living God.   Hebrews 3:7-12

How many times have you read something in the Word or heard God say something to your heart and your first thought was “oh that’s impossible!”?  When that happened, were you immediately gripped with conviction?  Did you cry out to God to break your hardened, sinful, unbelieving heart and forgive you for your rebellion in testing and trying Him?

Chances are not.  But the bigger question is, why not?  God is pretty clear on how seriously He sees unbelief.  So why are we so “soft” or tolerant about it?

I think in large part, it’s because while we understand at some level that we are spiritual beings living in a spiritual kingdom, most of us don’t have nearly as good of a grasp of the laws of this kingdom as we do, say, of the natural laws of the world around us. Gravity, for example, we respect. We don’t “test” gravity by deciding to step off a ten-story building into thin air. Or if we do, we only try it once!

It is both our blessing and our challenge that we live in a “dispensation of grace”.   But grace doesn’t mean there are no laws in the kingdom. It just means that we may not always suffer the immediate and full weight of the penalty for breaking those laws, say the way the Israelites did in the Old Testament. 

But I believe God is stirring a remnant of believers all over the earth, right now, to yearn for something more than living by what we can get away with by grace.  When we were born again, we were translated from the rule or dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved son.  And from that day forward, we were meant to be conduits of that kingdom coming into the earth.  But the reason that we haven’t really seen the kingdom being established here in the way we long to is because the kingdom isn’t yet fully established in our own hearts. 

If we are serious about seeing His kingdom come on earth and about striving to enter into the as-yet-unrealized rest, then one of the first things we need to do is stop making excuses for our unbelief.  We have to choose to see things from God’s perspective and not our own:  if we hear His voice and we don’t immediately respond in faith and obedience, it’s because in some way our hearts have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  And that is why, as we talked about yesterday, we are totally and utterly dependent on God in this journey into rest. Because the truth is we don’t really know our own hearts;  so we are not even able to see the things that are hindering us from entering into rest. 

2 Corinthians 7:10 speaks about a godly sorrow that brings repentance and leads to salvation and leaves no regret.  So maybe our first step in establishing a zero tolerance policy for unbelief in our lives is to ask the Lord to tenderize our hardened hearts by giving us the gift of godly sorrow for our unbelief.

If this resonates with you, then let’s pray this prayer together: Lord, I acknowledge that I have allowed unbelief a place in my life. And even though You said that whatever is not of faith is sin, I haven’t always felt convicted for my unbelief.  And I know, You said, this is because my heart has become hard.  God, I’m asking You to create in me a new heart and to grant me the gift of godly sorrow that can lead to true repentance. I don’t want to test and try and rebel against You.  I want a heart that is soft and tender and knows Your ways.  Please teach my Your ways, in Jesus name, Amen.  

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