When God awakens us to our sin, we shouldn’t despair

Yes, our sin hinders our relationship with God, but we shouldn’t despair – we shouldn’t feel hopeless. In the beginning of Jonah 2:4, we learn that Jonah feels as if he has been…

“‘…driven away from [God’s] sight;’”

(Jon 2:4a)

The word Jonah uses for “driven” carries the idea of being forced out, to be forced away from. It’s what I do to our dog when he comes in the kitchen while I’m preparing food. I drive him out of the kitchen back to his bed.

As Jonah is sinking down to his watery grave, Jonah felt as if he was forced out of God’s sight. But even though Jonah felt that way, he didn’t despair. In the remainder of verse 4, he says,

“yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’”

(Jon 2:4b)

The reason Jonah didn’t despair, the reason Jonah wasn’t hopeless, even though he felt like he had been driven from the Lord, was because he knew the Lord was a God of loyal love. Because God is a God of loyal love, we can turn back to the Lord through repentance.

The same is true for us. While our sin hinders our relationship with God, we can always turn to Him because He is a God of loyal love. You haven’t messed up so big that you are driven from God’s sight forever. You can repair your relationship by repenting. That’s exactly what we should do when we discover we have sinned against God.

When God awakens us to our sin, we should repent, turning back to the Lord.

We should repent, turning back to the Lord even though we might feel as if we have been driven from God’s presence because God loves us and wants what’s best for us.

You Must Forsake Your Old Way of Life to be a Christian

Hear, O daughter, and consider, and incline your ear: forget your people and your father’s house, and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him.” (Ps 45:10–11)

The Psalmist tells us that those who desire to be the Lord’s should forsake their past life. They shouldn’t hold on to it, instead, they should let it go, turning to live as God’s people in His kingdom.

Something We Must Do

Forsaking our past life not only pleases God but it is something we must do in order to be Christian. We cannot worship two Masters. Nor can we live a divided life. We must give of ourselves fully to the Lord, allowing Him to lead and guide us. He must be both our Savior and Lord.

The Mistake We Make

Mistakenly, many believe coming to Christ doesn’t involve forsaking their past way of living. This error is partly the product of our sinful nature wanting to hold on to control, and it’s partly the product of a decisionism culture that tells us all we need to do it accept Christ and everything will be alright. While we must believe/accept/profess the gospel message about Jesus – that God saves repentant sinners through the death and resurrection of Jesus – we must also give our life fully over to Him.

Repent – What Does it Mean?

Repentance is a key component of becoming a Christian. When we repent, we are essentially doing a 180. We are turning from a life lived for ourselves to a life lived for God. We are forsaking our desire to be our own god, and we are recognizing God’s right to be the God of our lives. When we repent, we not only tell God we are sorry for sinning against Him, but we also tell Him that we want Him to lead and guide us. We tell Him that we recognize His rightful place as our King and that we are willing to submit to His lordship over our lives.

Repentance, then, is a necessary part of becoming a Christian. If we haven’t repented, we haven’t forsaken our old way of life, and we aren’t citizens in God’s kingdom.

Questions for Reflection

  1. Have you forsaken your old way of life?
  2. Have you repented?
  3. Do you recognize that God is the King of your life?



On Prayer: The Chief Exercise of Faith

Over the years I’ve found much of what I’ve read about prayer to be unhelpful. Here’s why: Prayer is usually considered under the heading of ‘spiritual disciplines’ which makes it the spiritual equivalent of running on a treadmill or flossing your teeth, neither of which are attractive to me. Viewing prayer purely as a discipline drags the whole business back into the world of law, and law can never impart life.

I awakened to this when I discovered a description of prayer that warmed my heart with a fresh desire to pray. Calvin describes prayer as

“the chief exercise of faith by which we daily receive God’s benefits.”

Then he offers this compelling picture:

“We dig up by prayer the treasures that were pointed out by the Lord’s gospel, and which our faith has gazed upon.”

Imagine walking over a field where vast treasure lies buried. To make these riches your own, you need two things: a map and a spade. Scripture is your map, and prayer is your spade.

I find this picture helpful because it delivers prayers from the austere world of law and discipline and brings it into the realm of the gospel and promise, where it belongs. Prayer is more than a duty to be fulfilled; it is a gift to be enjoyed. There is a world of difference between ‘having your quiet time’ as a spiritual discipline and drawing near to God to possess what He promises to you in Christ.

Since prayer is “the chief exercise of faith by which we daily receive God’s benefits,” it follows that the primary gifts you will receive go far beyond ‘answers’ to items or needs on your prayer list. Prayer is the means by which you lay hold of all that God has promised in your own life and in the lives of others for whom you pray.

Question for Reflection

  1. What do you think about prayer?


Colin Smith, Jonah: Navigating a God-centered Life, 62-63.


On The Gospel vs. Religion

Religion commands us to change our behavior, but it cannot change our hearts. It can tell us to do what is right, but cannot give us a love for the right. Only the gospel and the assurance it yields creates a passion for the right in our hearts, because only the gospel goes deep enough to actually change the warped nature of our hearts.

Question for Reflection

  1. Have you ever found yourself trying to modify your behavior instead of resting in Jesus for salvation?


J.D. Greear, Stop asking Jesus into your heart, 17.


On Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

Repentance and faith are heart postures you take toward the finished work of Christ. You might express the beginning of that posture in a prayer. But don’t make the mistake of equating that prayer with the posture.

The sinner’s prayer is not a magic incantation or a recipe you follow to get a salvation cake.

The real stuff – the stuff that matters – is the posture of repentance and faith behind the words you speak. The prayer is good only insofar as it verbalizes the posture.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What do you think of the sinners prayer?


J.D. Greear, Stop asking Jesus into your heart, 7.


Christian Accountability


What do you think about Christian accountability? Do you think it is abused? Do you think it is negative? Do you think we should hold each other accountability? Beyond what you think, what does the Bible say? What does it tell us we should do? How does it tell us we should exercise accountability in the body? 1 Samuel 15 provides us with an excellent model.


Saul has disobeyed God by not completing the mission God gave him. Instead of completely destroying the Amalekites, he spared king Agag’s life and allowed his people to keep the best cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. As well as he setup a monument to himself in Carmel.

Samuel received word from the Lord regarding Saul’s actions, goes and confronts him, calling him to repent while also delivering bad news. The Lord has rejected him as king over Israel.

Samuel’s actions both tell us accountability is biblical as well as they provide us with a model to follow. Let’s look at the model Samuel gives us.

Model for Accountability

(1) We should grieve over others sins because they have offended a holy God.

The first action we should take when we learn of another brother or sister’s sin is to grieve. Sin is an affront to God. It’s rebellion against Him. Knowing another brother or sister is in sin, should cause us to grieve.

(2) We should go to the person and confront them with their sin.

After grieving, prayer for wisdom, and checking our own heart’s motives, we should confront the sinning brother or sister, bringing their sin to light and calling them to repent. Of course, we must not do this in a high-handed, judgmental, or self-promoting way, but in a loving and wise manner.

(3) We must confront them with God’s Word.

Samuel doesn’t come to Saul with his own word. He comes with God’s Word. When we go to another brother or sister in sin, we must go with God’s Word as well. Allowing Scripture to point out their sin is important because it is what is judging them, not us. All we are doing is pronouncing God’s judgment on them via Scripture. In this way, we are acting as God’s messenger, not their judge.

(4) We must call them to repent. 

Confrontation should not occur for confrontations sake. Rather, its purpose is that the confronted sinner will repent of their sin and enjoy restored fellowship with the Lord. Calling the wayward to repent is an important step of accountability. One we must not neglect because it is what the whole process is driving toward.

Motivation for Accountability

For some, accountability is an uneasy topic. It is something they would never dream of doing. For that reason, let me provide you with motivation to hold others accountable and to seek it out yourself.

(1) As God’s people we should reflect His character to the world for His glory.

If we are in sin, we cannot reflect God’s character to the world. Instead, we are actually misrepresenting God, especially if we call ourselves Christians. By holding each other accountable, we are fighting for the purity of Jesus’ bride – the church – and for God’s glory. We should do this and desire this because the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

(2) Unrepentant sinners hinder the church’s witness to the world.

This is why the world sees many Christians as hypocrites. If we want to regain our name in the world, we have to start calling people to repent of their sin and to follow God. Accountable then becomes a way for the church to fight for its witness in the world.

(3) Accountability is for your joy.

When we live in obedience to God, we experience the most joy. Think about a time when you were living in rebellion to God. Were you joyful then? I know that when I am in rebellion to God, I am not joyful. Now think about a time, when you were living in line with God’s commands, were you joyful then? I know that is the time when I am the most joyful.

Accountable, confronting others with their sin, and calling them to repentance is far from negative, rather it is a way for us to fight for other’s joy.

(4) Accountability helps us finish the race.

Salvation is pictured both as a definitive historical event that happens in our life and as something to be attained at the end of our life. By holding others accountability, we help them to finish the race. We help them to obtain salvation.

James 5:19-20 says,

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


For those reasons and more, we should hold others accountable. It is a grace – gift – God has given us. It is not something negative. It actually is something positive, and something we should desire.

 Questions for Reflection

  1. How do you view accountability?
  2. Do you seek out accountability?
  3. How does your church, small group, etc, promote accountability among its members?
  4. Are there any other motivations you would add to the list?