Our church is going through a sermon series on the power of prayer. This last week was about King Manasseh from 2 Chronicles 33. The title of the sermon was "A Prayer From An Evil Man". If you don't know who King Manasseh is (which I didn't) he was a very evil king. In 2 Kings 21 it talks of how he killed so many innocent people that the streets of Jerusalem were filled with blood. In 2 Chronicles it talks of how he sacrificed 2 of his sons to a false god. He led the people of Judea away from God.
So God allowed the Assyrians to kidnap Manasseh and take him as a prisoner to Babylon. It doesn't specify how long Manasseh was in Babylon, but it says that in his distress he called out to God. It specifies that he humbled himself before God. God heard his prayer and was moved. God reestablished him as king in Jerusalem. In the few years he had left as king he fought hard to remove all the alter and idols that he had erected all over Judea. He built alters in their places to sacrifice offerings to God.
Pretty amazing if you ask me. Talk about grace!
At the end of the sermon our pastor brought up this thought. What is the difference between "I'm sorry" and true repentance. How "I'm sorry" always has a "but..." and then an excuse/reason for the transgression. How true repentance means a heart change, a 180 degree turn in the other direction.
It just really got me thinking about the many times in my life I have asked for God's forgiveness for a specific sin to just fall right back into that sin without even trying to go the other way. Then I'm back asking for forgiveness again. It's an endless cycle. It's a sad and lonely cycle.
I understand there will never be a day when I don't sin. If it's not an outward sin, it's one in my heart or mind. I know that perfection isn't possible in this world. That's why Christ died on the cross, because there is no way we could have saved ourselves. But that doesn't mean that I should choose to live in my sin and just accept it. I should be fighting and praying for change. Trying my absolute hardest to make changes through the Holy Spirit's guidance and help. All the while knowing that I have a grace filled Lord who will forgive me even when I do mess up. Which will be often.
I just want to be striving for true repentance in my life. Not just a constant chorus of "I'm sorry. But...".
This will be a life long journey. A Grace filled journey. But I want to live out my value system not just talk about it.