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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Signs of True Christian Conversion & the Power of God

By Steve Wickham

True salvation inevitably brings with it some level
of true repentance toward a transformed mind, goals, and manifest
behaviours. We not only think differently, we start to act differently
too, as we seek to live in a more morally-accountable way.

True
repentance is not always connected with true (or new) salvation. Anyone
can truly repent. All it seems is required (to draw on God's power and
grace) is sufficient humility in response to the exposed truth, which
engenders deep reflection at the heart level, toward a turning from
one's old ways to the new.

I said to someone only recently, I
have more problems at sin than most. This is because I see myself from
my own God-revealed state--though not condemning--a resultant
bliss-filled benefactor of his rich portions of grace. I currently have
two known areas of self-acknowledged sin (which to some might be that
minor they'd hardly warrant reflection--but to me, a child of a holy
God, these are to be worked on until completion i.e. eradication by
God's grace one moment at a time).

I read recently a beautifully
incisive description of what true repentance is, and this explains in
part why it's so hard. It describes repentance as being beyond simple
regret, and that for us is easy to explain. Regret is sorrow over an act whereas repentance is sorrow because of an act; two quite divergent responses on the moral plane.[1]

Repentance,
furthermore, is split into two forms. And this is the key to uncovering
why at times, when we're frustrated by ongoing sin, we don't become
delivered from it.

Repentance is engaged by sorrow rooted in us hurting relationships
by our acts and omissions, not the least of which our relationship with
God. It starts viscerally--from deep within. It's manifest sorrow for
the hurt caused to another, even to God directly.

The power of
true repentance toward a transformed mind, heart and hence, behaviour,
is the resurrection power of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.

When we
truly repent at the heart level (reaching the deep emotions because we
begin to comprehend the impact of our behaviour on relationships) and
not simply leave it at the intellectual level of the act itself, the
power of God's Spirit sweeps powerfully through us, giving us
confidence and poise to do the thing he wishes us to do, one day at a
time.

We hence become intrinsically motivated to make our
relationships right; to restore the virtuous balance. We're prepared to
pay whatever restitution is required.

And this is why the Lord's
discipline in the form of resonant life consequences is so critically
important; though we like it not! The consequences force us to decide.
Do we submit in humility or reject the rebuke in pride (our default is,
of course, the latter).

Consequences and restitution also
propound the lesson, helping us truly learn so we don't make the same
mistakes again or as much.

The sign of true conversion, the witness of the 'circumcised heart' then, is the willing and almost enthusiastic response to all
life rebukes, in an honourable and dignified way, and not from excess
guilt or shame. (God's got no interest in us feeling excessively guilty
or shame-ridden; that's the lot of the enemy.)

This is the
resonant echo of the risen Christ in us as we bear our respective
crosses over the whole lifespan. For repentance is as much a part of
the Christian's journey as any other part, and possibly more. It's
uniquely inherent in the Christian walk.

And this is the best
sign of true conversion; does resurrection life flow through the person
in these circumstances or not? That's got to be the test question.

Whether
the person's been Christian 80 minutes or 80 years, the same fact
remains. Can they call upon the power and grace of God to truly repent
unto life eternal?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.

[1] Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo, Let the Children Come, Along the Virtuous Way: Growing Kids God's Way (Happy Valley, South Australia: Growing Families Australia, 2002), p. 205, 210.

Steve
Wickham is a Registered Safety Practitioner (BSc, MSIA, RSP) and a
qualified, unordained Christian minister (GradDipBib&Min).


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You sure you got your theology right or is it a case of "rose colored" vision and itching ears?

DUBLIN - After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland's castaway children. The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests. The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s. Wednesday's five-volume report on the probe - which was resisted by Catholic religious orders - concluded that church officials shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

"A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from," Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded.