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January 18, 2008

Pride has also been known to mask itself as false humility, which tends to lead to false repentance. I don’t think people always mean for false humility to be false, though. We really want to be humble because we know we’re supposed to be, but deep down I wonder how many of us really want to be humble. I’m learning that unintentionally false humility is best exposed via false repentance.

My pastor can be mean. We were talking a couple weeks ago about my developing prayer life and some challenges hitting me in the face. “You know what you need …” he trailed off as he approached the bookshelf.

Crystal Christianity is an edited collection of a series of sermons by a one Charles Finney. I believe the sermons were called Lectures to Professing Christians; they are those that Pastor Hoban affectionately refers to as the ones that will make you “wonder if you’re saved or not.” I think I understand his heart in giving me the book, but it was also a little mean. The way my mother-in-law will put lavender oil on an open wound and calmly reply to cries of agony with, “Well that’s just ’cause you’re toxic, dear.”

That’s right, it’s like lavender oil on an open wound. Except it smells dusty, not flowery.

I read the first chapter and resisted the entire thing until Holy Spirit asked me what passage of scripture I was basing my rebuttal on and I couldn’t come up with one.

Finney starts in 2 Corinthians 7:10 (KJV), “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” He goes on to write 30 scathing pages about how repentance that doesn’t free you from the desire to repeat the sin isn’t repentance at all.

True repentance is “not to be repented of.” False repentance is motivated by fear, not love. False repentance is when we realize we’ve messed up, fear God, and apologize in order to absolve ourselves of punishment. False repentance is based in selfishness, because we are concerned about our own well-being, not love.

I’d always heard that if you struggled with something before you were saved, the devil will continue to tempt you in that same area. It’s easier to pick open a scab than make a new wound, so he’ll do that. While that makes sense to me, I couldn’t come up with scripture on it.

And the more I thought about it I realized I didn’t need scripture on it because being tempted with evil, and feeling the urge or inclination to give into that temptation are wholly different. Being tempted is not sin, disobedience is sin.

Finney writes that true repentance will cause a person to abhor the behavior repented of. It doesn’t mean the temptation will never arise again – in fact probably the opposite, because how can you disdain something that never crosses your path again?

Pride makes me self-motivated and I repent for my disobedience not because I love God and regret having hurt Him, but because I love me and regret facing a sentence for my sin.

Which means I need God to enable me to truly repent because it can’t be manufactured. I need to read the Word until my mind is renewed and ask Him to open my eyes, or I’ll never be able to really repent of anything.

One Comment leave one →
  1. jeffie permalink
    January 19, 2008 3:33 pm

    in the words of Keanu Reeves from Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure, “Whhoaaa” I have not really considered myself to be a “reader” or “well-read” but this sounds like a book i should read. I sense the conviction just listening/reading to you speak/type. and i am encouraged.

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