True Repentance: Part One
February 3, 2019
Transcript of message from TV Broadcast 1374 -- taken from Closed Captioning Text
— Brother Phil Enlow:
Well, praise the Lord! I have some things on my heart this morning, and either this is a burden from the Lord or something, but we’ll see. But I feel like the Lord has laid on my heart something that is needful for all of us, and especially in the religious climate of today.
And it has to do with repentance, and what repentance really is, because we have so much that goes on in religion, where repentance is really kind of an external thing, an outward thing, where we take on religion, we take on certain outward things that people can see, but it never really gets down to where it needs to get.
And repentance, obviously it involves Christians, but it involves everybody that comes to the Lord. There’s no coming to the Lord without repentance. He doesn’t give us eternal life so we can continue to live the life we lived before and then somehow carry that to heaven, it’s a transformation.
And it’s what Josh mentioned this morning. There’s a reconciliation part where the legal issue between us and God is settled because Jesus paid our sin debt. But there is a transformational side of it without which it’s not salvation. And unless He replaces our life with His, all we’re doing is just living our life and that’s no good. And that can be religious. That can be a whole lot of things. And, it’s like the scripture says, we don’t know our own heart.
( congregational amens ).
We don’t know it. “The heart…” the Lord said through Jeremiah, is, “…deceitful above all things…” (KJV). And then He asked the question, “…who can know it?” And I think the implication is that none of us is in a position to know his own heart. We need the Lord! And I’m so thankful that He’s faithful to those that really come to Him from the heart, He’s faithful, isn’t He?
But anyway, the pretty obvious example in the scripture of repentance is David. And we know that the Lord chose him out of Israel because he was a man after God’s own heart. And so what happened to him is, not only an example for us, but it’s a warning for us, because he was a man after God’s own heart.
He was just a young man who kept his father’s sheep, and learned to know God and to worship Him and then had cultivated a certain amount of life with the Lord. And the Lord chose him because Saul had turned away and become self-willed in what he did. He had his own ideas. The Lord told him to do something and he sort of halfway did it, but then he injected his own ideas and his own fear, and other things crowded in. He wasn’t really faithful to the Lord in that.
And so, the Lord chose David and it quickly became obvious to Saul that God’s hand was with David and not with Saul. And so the next thing you knew, Saul was trying to kill David and David spent — I think something like 13 years in a very challenging school — of running for his life, hiding, trying to deal with this situation and that one, and gathering people around him. But forever and a day, he was in danger and struggling just to get by and looking to God.
But you know, God had him in school, didn’t He? This is how we learn about God. We’ve heard this so many times lately. We learn about Him when life is challenging and we’re forced to go to Him. David couldn’t simply rely on his skill as a soldier, which he had. He had, many times, just to simply rely on God.
And there were times when Saul’s army was on one side of the hill and David was on the other. And David was hiding in the back of the cave and Saul’s army was in the front. And finally, he had to actually leave Israel. And, we know all about that part of his life. But, God was shaping David, shaping his character, preparing him for the throne that he was to sit upon.
And then finally, Saul is killed in battle and David is brought into Judah, the tribe of Judah, and becomes their king. And that precipitated a seven and a half year war with the house of Saul in which, finally, after all this time when David was, what, about 30 years old, I believe, suddenly he is accepted and put on the throne in Jerusalem of all of Israel.
And we see him beginning to do the things that he thought he needed to do. He decided to bring the ark back to Jerusalem — didn’t do it the right way and that caused a problem for a while, But nonetheless, there was a disposition of his heart that you do see at every point in his life. Every time he failed, he failed forward. He learned. He grew.
He sought the Lord when he failed to bring the ark back. And finally the Lord revealed to him, you didn’t do it the way I told you to do it in Moses law. You can’t just ignore all that. And so, he brings the ark back to Jerusalem and there’s great rejoicing.
His wife doesn’t think much of it, one of his wives. So, the Lord had to deal with her. But anyway, now the ark is back to Jerusalem and so he prays and he comes to the prophet and said, you know, I live in a house of cedar and God’s house is in a tent. I want to build Him a house. And the Lord sent the prophet Nathan back to him and said, I’ve never dwelt in a house and never asked you to build Me one. But I am going to establish your house after you and bless your seed and your house is gonna last forever.
And, of course, we know it has because Jesus was born of the house of David, wasn’t He? His kingdom is forever. So, in that sense, the lineage of David will never end. So anyway, David praises the Lord and goes on about his business.
And you know, part of the promises to Abraham was that Israel would eventually possess, his descendants would eventually possess, a part of the land in the world. It went from Egypt to the Euphrates River. And so David set about conquering areas that had never really been subdued. And chapter after chapter, you will read about his exploits and how they’d go out to battle against this country and subdue it, and this one, and so on.
He was basically setting up what became Solomon’s early reign, the greatest king in the earth of his day. He basically inherited what David had provided. There was a peaceful kingdom of people who were subdued under Israel. They paid tribute. Israel ruled and reigned and they became the greatest kingdom in the world.
But David was busy doing all of this until one spring — and you know the story, but it’s worth repeating here, because it is a warning to every one of us that we don’t know our hearts and we can’t just get careless. We cannot just sort of assume, hey, I’ve got this, like Josh was talking about walking on the water, hey, I’ve got this. This is cool. I can do what I want.
David became careless and when his army went out to war, he stayed home. He said, you know, I deserve a rest. How many times do we indulge ourselves because we feel like we’re entitled? That’s human nature. We all do it. But anyway, he felt entitled to sit this one out.
And so, one night he was restless, got up out of his bed and from the vantage point of the castle, he saw a woman bathing and she was beautiful. And so he — you remember the story how he sent his servants out — so in that sense, this was not secret, was it? Servants knew. The servants went out and got her and he had a one-night stand with this woman.
And I’m sure in David’s mind this was no big deal — I’m entitled. I’m the king. I can do this. And so anyway, but the Lord saw what was going on, didn’t He? And so, what happened was, of course, that one-night stand turned into a pregnant woman, who sent word to David about that.
And so, he figures, I’ve got to do something. I can’t let this be known that I did this, that I’m responsible. And so, he calls and sends to the army and has Uriah, her husband, brought in. Uriah’s an amazing character. This guy’s not even an Israelite. He’s a Hittite, one of the heathen nations that they had conquered, and yet he had such a respect for God, such a respect for law, he was such a principled individual that you see it play out in his life here. I have an idea we’re gonna see him one day. You know, he was a faithful man, despite what happened to him.
And so, he came back and David says, go home, here are some gifts, go home and spend the night with your wife, but he wouldn’t do it. And his reason was, the armies of God are out in the field, should I go — am I entitled to this little vacation here? And he wouldn’t do it.
And David finally resorted to — I mean, you see how sin takes over, and begins to lead you down a wrong path? David had come to a crossroads, hadn’t he, in his life? And it was either continuing on what he was doing or…he took a little [detour], didn’t he? And Bathsheba was the detour.
And one thing led to another, led to another, led to another, and instead of stopping, he just kept right on going and he was gonna cover it up. And so, he has Uriah back. Uriah won’t go, so David has him for supper. But his real motive was to get the guy drunk. He figures if he gets drunk, his resistance will be down and he’ll do what I hope he’ll do and then my sin will be covered up. So anyway, you know how that didn’t work.
And so, finally David figures my only solution is to get rid of him. And so, he knows that Uriah is such an honorable man that he can actually send a message to the commander by Uriah and Uriah won’t even read it. He’ll be so honorable he won’t even read his own death sentence. And you remember how the message was: put him in the hottest place of the battle where the danger is the greatest and then retire from him so that he will die. There’s nothing really secret about this. His servants knew about it. His commander knew. But I mean, this is a king! And in an absolute monarchy the king’s word goes.
And so, he does it. He sends a report back to David and he tells the guy, if David complains about the dead soldiers, why did you do this? Don’t you know better than to use that strategy? Then he told the guy to say, Uriah, your servant is dead.
And so David got the answer he was looking for and obviously Bathsheba was notified of this. And there was a suitable period of mourning in their culture, and then David took her into the castle as one of his wives. They had multiple wives in those days. And so, she became his wife and bore him a son.
So one thing you notice about this, this is not some little one-day thing, is it? This is something that evolved over a period of time. There was probably a year or so. Because if they went out to war in the spring, they were back at war. So, I mean, there are nine months at least for the child to be conceived and born, and then — we don’t know what the time frame is exactly, but it’s probably close to a year. Let’s just estimate that.
And David is completely — this man who is after God’s own heart is clueless! He has no idea what he’s done! No idea how God feels about it, and he’s just walking in self-deception! Folks, we don’t know our hearts. We need the Lord! We need one another, don’t we?
( congregational response ).
And so, this is David’s condition. And in that sense, it’s a tremendous admonition to us. I thank God there’s a place of forgiveness, don’t you? But, I mean, David was in a serious condition. And so, you remember how God sent the prophet Nathan to David.
And in order to approach the king — I mean, you think about the faith of Nathan. You don’t take a message like this to the king and expect to live, under a monarchy. But Nathan had the faith to go to him and tell him a story.
And the story was, there was a rich man and there was a poor man. The rich man had flocks and herds and was just rolling in possessions. The poor man lived with his wife and family and they one little ewe lamb that they brought up and it was like a daughter to him. They fed it from the table. It was more of a pet than anything else, a member of the family. And so a traveler comes to visit the rich man and instead of going out into his own herds, he goes across the street and gets the poor man’s lamb and takes it and serves it to the traveler.
Well, David’s righteous indignation was boiling over when he heard about this. Man, he was ready to get the guy until Nathan said, you are the man. And the Lord began to tell him what he had done. You had everything. I gave you a kingdom. If there had been more, I would have given it to you. I mean, if you’d asked for more. I’ve given you everything, and yet, you had Uriah murdered so you could have his wife.
And it was a shock to David, I have all ideas it was a tremendous shock to him. And he recognized that he had sinned. But it wasn’t just, you’ve sinned. It was, from now on there’s gonna be trouble. You’ve done this, the sword will never depart from your life.
Folks, when we go down the wrong road, there are consequences, aren’t there? And, that’s what happened with David. There were things that happened in his family. He had rebellions in his own household. He had to flee for his life. There were all kinds of things because God’s name got dragged through the mud because of what he did.
See, folks, we’re representing the Lord, aren’t we? And we need to live like that. And I just pray God will give all of us grace and help us to really check up on our hearts.
But anyway, that brings us to Psalm 51. Because here we see David in a real genuine example of repentance, I mean, this is the model repentance. He really goes into the depths of what repentance really means.
And he begins by saying, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” (NIV). So, from the get-go, he is not appealing to God based on anything he is or he has done. In other words, I have no right to come to You based on — I can’t look at my life and say, I’ve done good things, so therefore — there’s nothing. He comes on the basis of God’s showing mercy, end of story, that’s it! God, You’re a merciful God. I’m just gonna come because I know the kind of a God You are. Please have mercy on me, oh God. Lord, I need You.
“…According to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.” According to Your unfailing love…aren’t you glad God’s love is not failing? Wow! I mean, here’s — if this had been us, how would you have reacted to something like this? If somebody — if it had been you? Oh my God! But here’s a God who is pure and holy! There’s nothing at all wrong with Him. Everything about Him is pure and yet David somehow knew that he could come to God even in the depths of this situation.
And it’s evident from his language, he’s not soft-pedaling anything, is he? There’s no basis upon which I can come to You, Lord, except for the fact that You are a merciful God! “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”
Now notice up to this point David is dealing with what he has done. Now you understand that are two levels of things going on here. ‘Sins’ are one of them. ‘Sin’ is the other. You understand the difference? Sins that are acts in the real world, they are acts of something. There’s something we do that is against God. Those are acts of sin. Those are sins. But where do they come from?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. See, they come from a nature that can only sin. There’s not a single thing you and I can do that is acceptable in the eyes of a holy God. I don’t care what kind of a golden chalice you use to dip in and serve something. If you dip it out of a sewer, it’s still gonna be sewer water.
And so, David has to deal with something else besides just what he’s done. He’s done these terrible things. He recognizes that it’s not just out here and against somebody. There’s nothing except, oh God, it’s You and me. This is between You and me. I have sinned against You, Lord.
I’ll tell you, genuine repentance gets us to the point, every one of us, where nothing else matters. It isn’t what somebody did. It isn’t the circumstances. It isn’t a mistake. Oh, we love, every one of us love to use that. I made a mistake. Well, no. It’s gone way beyond that. There is something that I allowed in my life, that came out of my life and my heart that caused me to do something and that was against God. Period.
And David is shut up. Everything else doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you, when somebody comes to Christ, there may be issues in your life, there may be things you’ve been hurt by, there may be all kinds of issues in your heart and your life, but I’ll tell you, when it gets right down to it, the issue is not gonna be what’s happened to you. The issue is going to be, I am a sinner before a holy God and if I don’t do something about it, I’m gonna be lost and condemned in the end.
This is just You and me, Lord. Nothing else — it doesn’t matter what anybody else has done or ever will do, that’s not the issue. It’s You and me. Oh God, I need mercy, and the only ground upon which I can come.
But David, as I say, up to this point, all he’s dealing with is the external. I ‘did’ stuff. It was against You, Lord. And so he puts that in its proper perspective. But now, he’s going to get to something else. And here he says, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.”
So you see where David’s going here. This isn’t just stuff I did, this is what I am. And he’s realizing, he’s having to face the fact that what I did is not just some little boo-boo. This comes from here. Something’s got to happen in here if I’m gonna really be right with God. I can’t be satisfied to say, oh God, I sinned. Forgive my sin.
See, remember when the prophet, Samuel went to Jesse, David’s father, to anoint a king, and Jesse’s oldest son was brought out before the prophet. And he was tall, handsome, just looked like the perfect — this is surely the guy. What did God say? He says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
And I see in this prayer of David, I see David kind of getting this. Human nature wants to deal with externals. We really want to appear well before one another, don’t we? And it’s awfully easy for every single one of us at some point in our life to feel like, if I can present myself to others in a certain light that everything is okay, and it may not be, because the need that I have, the need everyone of us has — I’ll start with me. It’s not what I do, it’s what I am.
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