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Dr. Jay P. Cook, Pastor

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AWhat Is Lent? 
Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Besides God is more concerned about what’s in your heart than he is about what’s in your refrigerator. In Mark 7:18-20,

Mark 7:18-20 (NIV)
18 "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19 For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.") 20 He went on: "What comes out of a man is what makes him 'unclean.'

Ash Wednesday ushers in a time of personal reflection and examination.  It’s a chance for us to come clean; to clear the air between us and God. It is a time for us to repent of our sins.  What does the word repent mean?

Illustration:
Sunday morning was a little nasty – there were many little accidents.  We had become quite content with the nice weather. Sunday’s weather reminded me of a story of a man who wrecked his car. 
“There’s nothing wrong with me,” the man says.
“But sir, you’ve just been in a terrible car accident. You’re bleeding and have some deep bruises. There may be internal damage!”
“There’s nothing wrong with me!”
“At least have a doctor check you out, sir. We have an ambulance right here – it wouldn’t take very long.”
“I told you, there’s nothing wrong with me!”
“But sir.”
Then the man walks away from the car accident. His wife picks him up and drives him home. Later he dies from internal bleeding.

1.  When you repent, you are changing your mind about your sin. And you are changing your mind about Jesus Christ.

2.  In Acts 2:38 when Peter says "Repent and be baptized, every one of you," he’s using this word. He’s saying that if you want to be right with God, you have to change your mind about the way you’ve been living.

E.  The second Greek word is anastrepho which means to turn around. Changing your mind about your sin is not enough. You have to turn your life around and stop sinning.

C.   “We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin... But, mere time does nothing either to the fact or guilt of sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ." CS Lewis

  1. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they always tell you that the first step toward getting sober is being able to say, "I have a problem. I’m an alcoholic. And once you can do this, you will find mercy and understanding and support.
  1. That’s how God treats each and every person who comes back to Him. In humble repentance. No matter whom you are. Or what you’ve done. You can still come back to the Lord. 
  1. And once we confess our sins, we also need to renounce / give them up forever. Proverbs 28:13 says " He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy”

Conclusion:

No Need to Repent
Many years ago C.S. Lewis wrote the Screwtape Letters. Screwtape was an assistant devil writing to his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape was telling his nephew how to make the "patient" leave the camp of the arch enemy, the Prince of Peace, and dwell in the camp of the real boss, the prince of darkness. It is a great read!

I would like to share with you another letter, this one written by Twisttape to his apprentice Harshwood as they discuss his training and graduation from devil’s school.  He emails his apprentice.

The letter begins:
Dear Harshwood,

I have read the notices that you are about to graduate and begin your work on earth. Glad to hear that your training went well. I see that you will be a graduate with honors. Splendid!

Apply all of your knowledge to the task at hand, for the enemy, the Prince of Peace, God of Love is a resourceful enemy. Just when you think you have him in your grasp or one of this people, he pulls a trick and low and behold you stand empty, you lost your soul for the fires of hell.

I would like to give you one piece of advice, one bit of wisdom as you begin your tour of duty in the enemy’s camp. Throughout my tour of duty, I have learned one thing about these humans which I feel can be so very useful for you.

Humans usually have a very high regard for themselves. They think they are pretty good. They can see the faults, the sins, the evil in another, but they see only good in themselves.

My advice to you my dear Harshwood, is to encourage that thinking. Encourage it for all its worth.

The chief antagonizer, that Christ fellow, wants the humans to see their own sins, but Harshwood, blind their eyes, their hearts, their souls to that revelation. Let them think only of the good in themselves, and you, may dear friend Harshwood, will meet your quota of human beings who will spend the rest of their lives with our master, the lord of the heat and fire, Master Satan.

Let them see that when repentance is called for it is not them who needs to repent. Let them see over and over again that they are really better than the guy next to them in the pew…  Let them see that they are indeed really pretty good, no need for repentance, no need for forgiveness, and then you will have them. You will have them because they will see that they do not really need that Christ fellow, and they really need is themselves. Then, then they will be ours.

For you see my dear Harshwood, when these humans see themselves as great, then they are filled with self pride, and they don’t need that Jesus fellow. This is how it will begin. They you will have them in your claws.

Good luck on your tour of duty, my heart goes out to you as you use every trick, every scheme, every evil desire, every good intention, every proud thought to win souls for our side.

Signed
Your admiring friend, Twisttape

Let us not be a victim of self-conceit but let us repent.