1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 found here.
vs. 9 says: …you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God…
Often we grit out teeth and try to turn away from our habits of over eating by sheer will power and determination. Even those of us who are believers in the Lord Jesus, who know we have the Spirit of God living within, may try a “Christianized” version of this “by the bootstraps” exertion…
But do we *hate* our sin? Do we even look at it as sin?
Notice in the verse above that the Thessalonians hadn’t just turned FROM idolatry. They turned TO God to serve him. This is vital. The author of TLT mentions that apart from turning TO God, our turn is only 90 degrees. It isn’t the entire 180 degree turn needed to see lasting change all the way through to our heart.
True repentance is not only turning from sin, it is turning to God and loving and serving Him. (p. 35, TLT)
I could identify very much (even TODAY) with Mike Cleveland when he shared on page 35, “…I finally discovered that my repentance was not genuine, but rather was simply ‘feeling badly’ about my failure, rather than a complete turn away from it and turning to God.”
I can so relate to this TODAY. Since making a break from diet soda of any kind, I have found what I suspected to be true, IS. My continued attachment to diet soda was intricately connected to the stronghold of food…the sweetness of diet soda has often been used by me to “reward” me, to “celebrate,” and all the very same things that I have used food for in the past. After making it through a very stressful drive through the canyon with my son who is learning to drive, my first thought was “I must have a soda!” To reward myself and to decompress the stress! It was brought home so clearly that I haven’t really dealt with the deeper heart issue of repentance and turning TO God if I yet depend on diet soda. Yes, physically, outwardly, my body remains it’s “God-given size.” But my heart hasn’t yet given up the TASTE. I still want my taste buds to have the RIGHT (eek!) to enjoy the flavor of sweet…and the texture of the bubbles…
Now that I have cut myself away from that, I find myself drawing back to food lustfully. See, the soda masked that the problem in my heart was still there! I had “fixed the food” instead of allowing God to really fix my heart connection to the taste of sweet.
So the past three days especially, I have found myself willing to totally violate my own boundaries with night time eating of cookies…and I think somewhere in my mind I have had this thought, “I gave up soda, Lord, like you asked…you have asked me for years to hand it to you…so I should get SOMETHING in return for that!” Ugh…such arrogance and pride.
Clearly, a heart problem.
We must put our backs to the sin and walk away from it. And we must face Christ and walk towards Him. No half-hearted turning will free us from the power of sin; no partial turning will enable us to escape the temptation to overeat. (p. 35 TLT)
In my case, my partial turning was evident by my insistence on retaining a grip on diet soda. Yes, I have had times where I let go of caffeine and cut back on the soda consumption, but NEVER completely let it go…ALL of it.
This time, I have turned my back on the soda…but I didn’t turn TO God, to let HIM be my sufficiency and strength. TO love and serve the one TRUE GOD. So my repentance was partial and not really repentance at all.
One of the testimonies in TLT on page 36, was shared by “Nancy” who said: The evil is not in the eating [or the drinking]…my food [or drink] consumed my every thought. I arranged my day around it. Instead of calling to God in prayer, I stood at the cupboard or refrigerator seeking not God but food [or soda]. That is the sin. Food [and soda] was my god. That is what is wicked, as I had another idol.
Oh, how clearly I see this now. It isn’t about the food or the drink. It never is. Certainly we have to eat and drink to live. But it is about my HEART.
Read Isaiah 55:6-7 here.
There are four elements of repentance that can be drawn from this passage. I won’t list them here, but can you see them?
The author of TLT summarizes: It is not as if we’re merely turning away from sin only to be left empty and with no excitement or fulfillment in life. You see, as we turn from overeating and turn to God there is a blessed life of satisfaction and joy to be found in Jesus Christ. In reality, we are leaving the lesser and termporary pleasures for the greater and eternal ones. Yes, we are giving up the pleasures of sin, but we are gaining the pleasures of Christ and Psalm 16:11 describes the pleasures of Christ as eternal. (p. 37 TLT)
Romans 2:4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?
Repentance, as it says in this lesson of TLT, is a by-product of God’s grace. His grace! Or like Beth Moore said at last week’s Breaking Free taping, we tend to think of repentance as our punishment…but it is a gift! Our right in Christ! He paid with his blood that we might experience God’s kindness leading us toward repentance.
Summary in Short:
True repentance is turning from sin in deed and thought and turning TO God’s ways. I know that I need not just to repent of my deeds, but of my lustful thoughts of food (or soda) as well. I can’t leave it there, either. I must turn TO God…to His Word, to prayer, to serving Him, to chasing hard after Him to love Him more. I know that it is His kindness that leads me to this place. He *grants* repentance in my heart as a gift.