Points to Ponder: Is Repentance Ever Too Late?
Points to Ponder
Is Repentance Ever Too Late?
Years ago I saw a sign that said, "Don't wait till the 11th hour to get right with God. You might die at 10:30." Do you think that once you've become aware of sin in your life that God is just going to ignore it? You would be correct in saying that He's loving and forgiving; but how long will He allow you to flaunt your disobedience? When would be the right time to confess to Him and then turn (repent) from that thing? If you already know that you should and you have not, what should God's response be?
I thought about this during a devotional study of Deuteronomy 1:34-36. Here Moses recounts Israel's rebellion against God (recorded in Numbers 14:20-45), how they refused to go into the Promised Land because they lacked faith. They wandered forty years in the wilderness as a result. Their failure to believe God (Deuteronomy 1:32) followed by accusations that their children would be victims out there, caused God to fire that whole generation. The children would be given the land. Their faithless parents would die in the wilderness.
Hearing that, they cried and sought to repent and to go into the land. But God told them they had lost their chance. He would not be with them and the enemy would defeat them.
"And the Lord said to me, 'Tell them, "Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; lest you be defeated before your enemies."' So I spoke to you; yet you would not listen, but rebelled against the command of the Lord, and presumptuously went up into the mountain. And the Amorites who dwelt in that mountain came out against you and chased you as bees do, and drove you back from Seir to Hormah. Then you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord would not listen to your voice nor give ear to you" (Deuteronomy 1:42-45).
Even Moses would not be allowed to go into the land because of his angry outburst and open disbelief in God (Numbers 20:2-13). He asked later on, but God would not even consider his plea (Deuteronomy 3:23-27).
"Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter" (v. 27).
You can look at it from the mountaintop, but you will not go in, God said.
We read these and similar accounts of how God dealt with sin very severely and many people think it's not fair; as if we are entitled to all of His blessings, but we're free of responsibility.
If we refuse to do what we know His word says is right; or we continue to do what His word clearly shows us is wrong, what should be God's response?
Think of some of the things you think of doing, or wish you could do, toward someone who sinned against you. Aren't you glad God does not render unto you the standard of judgment you're holding toward others? Suppose He did?
There comes a time when God has spoken to you on a matter; through scripture, in a sermon, from a godly friend, you've been convicted. Your sinful way is eating you up from the inside even when, on the surface it appears to be fun or good or right for you. You are greatly deceived! David contemplated this matter.
"When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My vitality turned into the drought of summer" (Psalm 32:3-4).
In scripture we find numerous occasions when repentance was too late. Sometimes what we call repentance is more like, "I'm sorry I got caught." His amazing patience and kindness spares us much grief; however, He is holy and His righteous standard will not change. God came down in the person of Jesus to meet us in our weakness; but His righteousness is never compromised. David's contemplation continues:
"I acknowledged my sin to You and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.' And you forgave the iniquity of my sin" (Psalm 32:5).
If you are aware that a change is needed, do it now. Before you know it, it will be 10:30.
Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship of Clear Spring, MD. These articles (and sermons) are also found at www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com. Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am.