the relief of repentance

I bet you can remember a time when were “busted” … a time when your sins had found you out. I can, too. Remember the guilt? The shame? The pain?

I’m not talking about regretting that you had been caught. This is more. This is anguish of the soul. It’s realizing that you had sinned against the holy God who loves you. It’s that piercing pain of knowing you have grieved your dear heavenly Father.

The Holy Spirit uses those inevitable consequences of sin for our good. The disgrace and humiliation that we bear is unsustainable. We want to be free of it. We must be set free.

Just before Jesus began His public ministry, His cousin, John the Baptist was already on the scene. Already calling out to one and all. In the words of Isaiah from the Old Testament, John was “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’.”

And what way is that? It’s the way of repentance. Literally, that word means to have a change of mind, to stop moving away from God and turn back to Him.What is waiting for us when we do? Nothing less than God in the flesh! The Son of God sent from heaven. Mary’s holy child, born in the manger. Jesus, the Christ. He whom God made to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God!

For this Christmas to be everything God intends for it to be, let’s go down that road of repentance. Let’s honestly and humbly have a change of mind about the sin that’s a part of our lives. Let’s do what it takes to make the crooked roads become straight and the rough ways smooth.

For when, by faith in Jesus, we confess and turn from our sins, we have the greatest relief of all. Our heavenly Father tells us that we are righteous in His sight. We have the warm embrace of our Savior who died and rose again in our place.

That’s worth celebrating, isn’t it? That’s what Christmas is all about!

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