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#2.1 PREPARE OUR HEARTS WITH THE GODLY SORROW OF REPENTANCE

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Introduction 2.1

This bible study explains why we need to prepare our hearts with the godly sorrow of repentance in order to understand the truth of God's word. A failure to teach this and do it has resulted in the fragmented denominational system we have in Christianity today.

#2.1 PREPARE OUR HEARTS WITH THE GODLY SORROW OF REPENTANCE

2 CHRONICLES 19:2-3
2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went our to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Should you help the ungodly, and love those who hate the LORD? therefore wrath is upon you from before the LORD.
3 Nevertheless there are good things found in you, in that you have taken away the groves out of the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.

EZRA 7:10
10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

ECCLESIASTES 7:2-4
2 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

JEREMIAH 4:3
3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns.

HOSEA 10:12
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and rains righteousness upon you.

2 CORINTHIANS 7:9-11 (Paul)
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance; for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing.
10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.
11 For behold the selfsame thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it worked in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

JAMES 4:8-10
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded.
9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Note: Godly sorrow makes the heart better (Ecclesiastes 7:3), it clears it out (2 Corinthians 7:11), and purifies it (James 4:8-9). Just as good ground was required to bring forth good fruit in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:8; Mark 4:8; Luke 8:8), so a good soft heart is required to bring forth a good understanding of the truth of God's word. If we study the scriptures diligently and still lack understanding, then it is almost certainly due to the condition of our spiritual heart, which may result from lack of repentance. Most of us will not have repented sincerely because we have been told that all sins are automatically forgiven when we first believe, and it is an easy mistake to make by taking verses such as (John 3:16; Acts 13:39), without rightly dividing the scripture. Every one of us can claim forgiveness of sins by faith when we first believe in Jesus, but it is not manifested in our lives until our sins have been repented of. This includes:

(a) Praying to God for forgiveness (2 Chronicles 7:14; Psalms 32:5-6; Acts 8:22).
(b) Confessing each sin to God (Psalms 32:5; 51:2-3; Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9).
(c) Being sorry for our sin (Psalms 38:18; Ecclesiastes 7:3; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
(d) Forsaking the sin (Isaiah 1:16-18; Jeremiah 36:3; Ezekiel 18:21-22; 2 Timothy 2:19).
(e) Destroying all association with past sin (Joshua 7:11-12; Isaiah 27:9; Acts 19:18-19).
(f) Making restitution where possible (Exodus 22:1-7; Ezekiel 33:14-16; Luke 19:8).
(g) Renewing our heart and mind with God's word (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:2; 119:11; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10; Hebrews 8:10-12).
(h) Obey God's word and do good (Isaiah 1:16-18; Ezekiel 18:21-22; 33:14-16; Ephesians 4:28; James 4:17).

Our search for the truth of the scripture can be hindered without a proper repentance, and with this one deception, the Devil has not only kept millions of Christians from getting prayers answered, enticed many back into the world, overcome them during trials of faith, kept them from understanding scripture, but has seen countless millions of "Christians" die still committing sin, because they have failed to undergo a proper repentance. Examples of this are given in scripture (Matthew 7:21-23; 25:1-13). We really need to confess every sin that we can remember, after which many of us may be surprised how quickly we start getting a new understanding of the scripture, and a faith that will endure trials. How long must it continue? "till he come and rain righteousness upon you." (Hosea 10:12), but don't be surprised if it runs into hundreds of hours! (See #2.12 Note). Here are two examples of God preparing the hearts of people with Godly sorrow before receiving his word.

#2.11 Example: The ministry of John the Baptist

MATTHEW 3:1-2
1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
2 And saying, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

MARK 1:4
4 John preached in the wilderness, and preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

LUKE 3:3
3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;

ACTS 19:4
4 Then said Paul, John indeed baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Note: The whole purpose of the ministry of John the Baptist, to "all the people of Israel" (Acts 13:24), was to prepare the hearts of many of them to receive the words of Jesus:

(Luke 1:17) "And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God, And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
(Luke 1:76-77) "And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Highest: for you shall go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins."

What would have happened if Jesus had just turned up on the scene and started preaching, without John the Baptist coming first? His words would have been like seed sown by the wayside (Matthew 13:19; Mark 4:15), or on stony ground (Matthew 13:20-21; Mark 4:16-17; Luke 8:13), or among thorns (Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:18-19; Luke 8:14), and been fruitless. However, after months of listening to John the Baptist (Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness after being baptized by John (Matthew 4:1-2), many people had time to repent of some of their sins, and start to straighten their lives out, improving their heart condition ready to hear the words of Jesus. When Jesus began to preach, he also preached repentance (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15), teaching that without repentance the people would perish (Luke 13:1-5), and sent his disciples to preach repentance also (Mark 6:7-12). This meant that the words which Jesus later spoke were much more likely to be received into a good heart, and kept to bring forth good fruit.

#2.12 Example: Job's trial of faith

JOB 2:13
13 So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and no-one spoke a word to him: for they saw that his grief was very great.

JOB 6:2-3 (Job)
2 O that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together!
3 For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up.

JOB 16:16, 20 (Job)
16 My face is foul with weeping, and on my eyelids is the shadow of death;
20 My friends scorn me: but my eye pours out tears to God.

JOB 17:7 (Job)
7 My eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow.

JOB 23:16 (Job)
16 For God makes my heart soft, and the almighty troubles me:

Note: Job lived during Israel's exile in Egypt, before the law was given to Moses, and so lacked the knowledge of sin in his life (Romans 7:7-9), and also the knowledge of God (Job 34:35; 35:16; 38:2; 42:3). Unlike us today, Job had no way of knowing his shortcomings, but justified himself according to his conscience (Job 13:18; 33:9-10), and there was no man around who could teach him more about God. Just as soil needs to be broken up before the seed is planted, otherwise it will bring forth no fruit, and just as the disciples would have been unable to bear some of the truths Jesus wished to reveal to them (John 16:12), so Job would have been unable to receive the revelation of God, that God wanted him to have in his condition before his trial. Therefore, knowing that Job would remain faithful, God intervened and softened his heart (Job 32:16) with the trial of his faith (Job 23:10; 1 Peter 1:7). After this God gave Job a revelation of himself (Job 38:1-41:34), which he was then able to receive and understand (Job 42:5). If God uses this method of heart preparation, then we should not be deceived into thinking that we can obtain the knowledge of God without following the same pattern, because God always knows best.

(Isaiah 55:9) "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Don't expect it to be a short term project either, Job was already a very sincere man for God, the most godly in the country (Job 1:1; 4:3-4; 6:10; 29:1-25), and he had enough faith to endure his trial, but even so his trial lasted for months (Job 7:2-3).

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