In today’s sermon I would like to talk about the importance of repentance. When I think about sins and when I think about some shameful acts that I did in my life I am never despaired. I do repent, I do feel sorry and very sad because I know that God wants us to be the salt to this world and to be the light to this world as we are Jesus’ followers. Yet from time to time it can really be so hard. We are all people and we make mistakes. All of us have bad days and good days. Maybe we were quarrelling with a boss or a family member or maybe we were offended with something or even dared to offend another person. What we know from the Bible is that we all have this fallen human nature. We naturally tend to sin from time to time. We sin with our negative thoughts or even greedy ones about the other people. Also a sexual thoughts might be considered sinful if they are not directed to the one person. A person who we love and who loves us. There are many ways to sin through our thoughts. Another way of making a sin is through the words. They can be said or even written. Not many people question their online activity. I am also this kind of sinner and I feel sorry for this. Sometimes we quarrel even on social networking websites and we can say some bad things or even swear in our comments. But the words are like arrows. They can really offend someone and they can make someone feel bad because of what we said. The last one is of course – our acts. All the things we do can be sinful. So we should often think about those three things:
- Sinful thoughts
- Sinful words and in the end
- Sinful acts
As Christians we do have Holy Spirit who lives in us. And I believe that every time when we sin with our thought, words and deeds we make the Holy Spirit sad. This is why repentance is very important for a Christian life. In today’s Bible reading there was a paragraph that I would like to share with you.
Repent or Perish
13 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
8 “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. 9 If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
When I read this paragraph, the most important thing for me personally was the thing about a fig tree growing without giving fruits. I know that God loves us all and I know that He sent His only beloved Son to die for all of us. And yes we are saved by pure grace only as it is written. But still we should be always trying our best to be the best version of ourselves, to run away from every sin in order to praise our God who is in heaven. In today’s Bible reading we also read this paragraph:
Romans 5:1-2 and 5-8
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God.
5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
This paragraph I consider as a very important instruction of how we should repent or what should we know while repenting. I see that many orthodox Christians in a country where I live have very unhealthy approach when repenting for their sins. They become so depressed and sometimes they feel that God is so far away from us and that He will never save them. There is a book issued with the blessing of local SPC (Serbian Orthodox Church) which is called MITARSTVA. This word means similar as Customs in English. And in this book it is written that we should earn our salvation with our good deeds. Many people believe in that. I used to believe in it also 12 years ago. And I remember that feeling. It really feels hopeless, it feels that sin is stronger than God and it feels that God will never save us. And this was all wrong! What I learnt (or better to say what God thought me) is that biblically we are saved by grace. And our salvation already happened when we accepted Jesus as our Savior, when we believed and additionally became baptized and reborn by the Holy Spirit. And this approach is what I call healthy repentance. That moment when we do not want to sin because we know that it is wrong, we feel that the Holy Spirit in us is sad if we are in a sin. We feel that we want to be better and we want to stop doing sin. But we are not in a deep depression. At the same moment of our fall we know that God is here, he is listening, he feels our struggle, he loves us. We are His and He is ours. And nothing can separate us, nothing can separate us from God`s love.
Let us all repent for our sins. Let us always try to do our best and to be just and righteous in our thoughts, words and acts and let us never forget how endless and how great is His love. Amen.