A Call to Repentance 1

Pastor Mike will be speaking on A Call to Repentance 1. He will be reading out of 2nd Corinthians 12:20-21.

Always seek to be a blessing. You need to be praying. God, help me to be a blessing to my spouse. Help me to be a blessing to my children. Help me to be a blessing to this person that you brought into my life.

Help me to be a blessing on the job. God brings people in our past, sometimes strangers, people we don’t know. God, how can I be a blessing to them? Hello and welcome to Hopeworth Having Radio program.

This is Pastor Mike Sanders and I am the Senior Pastor of the Open Door Church. And I’m glad that we can be with you today. We’re going to be in 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 20 through 21. And we are going to be learning about a call to repentance.

A lot of people are confused about repentance. And so we want to kind of address that and try to define that from the scriptures viewpoint. And so I hope you have your Bible and I want you to join me in 2 Corinthians as we begin our study together.

We’re going to be in 2 Corinthians chapter 12. And again, we have been traveling through this book of the Bible for several months now. We’re coming to the end of it. There’s only one more chapter after chapter 12.

But we’re at the end of chapter 12 and I want us to learn some very important truths today. I’ve entitled the message, a call to repentance. A call to repentance. The scripture says in verse 18 of chapter 12, the Bible says, I urged Titus and sent our brother with him.

Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps? Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ, but we do all things, beloved, for your edification.

For I fear lest when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish, lest there be contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambition, backbiting, gossiping, conceit, and disorder.

Lest when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanliness, the fornication and the eludeness which they have practiced.

A call to repentance. The first question that we have to answer this morning is, what is repentance? It’s a Greek word which is simply metony, which literally means to change one’s mind. It’s the idea of having a radical change to your outlook.

It’s a change of purpose. It’s a change of direction that as we see things now. We may be going one way, but God stops us in our tracks and we turn around. We repent, if you will. We change directions and we walk away from the world and we walk towards Christ and towards the cross.

Jesus said when he began to preach, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. That was his message. John the Baptist preached repentance Jesus preached repentance, the apostles preached repentance, the early church preached repentance and so it is that you and I are called to preach repentance.

We are called to call people to change directions in their life, to stop going the way of the flesh and the way of the world and to stop going to a way that is going to destroy their life. The Bible says there is a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereofs are the ways of death.

And so there may be a path that you’re on that you think is okay, but it is not the path of God and it is not the path of blessing. And if you go down that path, it’s going to lead to destruction and it’s going to lead to devastation in your life and ultimately where you would be cast away in a place called hell and never know Christ as your Savior.

But repentance is not just for unbelievers. Repentance is for all of us who do believe and that God is calling all of us as believers to continue to repent. When the Bible teaches us to repent, it’s not just a one -time incident in our life or decision that affects us forever, but rather it is a pattern of our life that every day we are repenting, every day we are changing directions in this sense that we’re in this battle with the flesh, we’re in this battle the world, we are in this battle where Satan is always tempting us as believers to get off track.

And he is always enticing us to follow our own way. And it is up to us as believers to have a humble spirit and to be willing to change directions. That if we have allowed the devil to distract us, if we have allowed the devil to defeat us, if we have allowed the devil to lead us down the wrong path, that we would have humility in our heart to say, God, I have messed up.

I have made a mistake and I want to get back on track with you. That’s what repentance is. That’s what the apostle is calling the believers to in 2 Corinthians, in this letter that is often defined as a letter of encouragement to believers and an encouragement to the church.

The apostle sends out a loud warning to all believers. And note again in verse 21, he says, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented.

The apostle was concerned that when he showed up, that when he came to visit the church that he would find many believers off track who have not repented of their sins and who have not changed directions and that they have found themselves living lives that are dishonoring to Christ.

And so he knew. He knew that this was a probability and he was calling them to repentance. The apostle Paul was preparing the church for his third visit to them. We see that he wanted to prepare their hearts.

He wanted to help them to get ready for his arrival. When he came, I want you to take your Bible and just go back to 2 Corinthians chapter two, the same book, just back up a little bit and go to chapter two, go ahead, turn there, follow along with me.

It helps you stay engaged. Chapter two, verse two and three, here’s what the apostle said, for if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad? But the one who is made sorrowful by me. And I write this very thing to you lest when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.

Now here’s what he’s saying. He’s saying when I come, I’m hoping I’m finding people who are humble and have repented and have turned back to God. I don’t want to be sorrowful when I come. I don’t want to have to find people who have not put their full faith and trust in Christ and are not following him obediently and they’re not living for him.

That’s what brought joy to me. to the apostle is to see God’s people living for Christ. What brought joy to him was to see them obediently follow the plan of God for their lives. Now again, I want you to go to chapter 12 and I want you to see again how the apostle was preparing their hearts for his arrival.

We saw it in chapter 2, but look at chapter 12, back up to verse 14. Now this, now for the third time, I am ready to come to you and I will not be burdensome to you, meaning he’s not going to be a burden to them financially.

He’s not going to demand anything out of them to help take care of him. He says, I do not seek yours, meaning your possessions or your finances, but I seek you. I seek your heart. What the apostle cared for was, the people he cared about where they’re at spiritually and what they were going through and whether they were living for God.

He says the children ought not to lay up for the parents but the parents for the children. So just like a mom and dad takes care of their kids and we have that responsibility that while our children are at home, we must take care of them.

We have to watch out for them. The apostle looked at the church like his own spiritual children. He did not expect them to take care of him but he would take care of them. And what was most important in him caring for them was their spiritual life.

Where are they at? So we see in this text that as the apostle is writing to the church that he is showing that God has a concern for each of our lives. That he has a concern for our holiness. He has a concern for our obedience to God and that when you and I allow sin into our life, when we allow bad habits into our life, it inhibits our growth and it limits what we can do for the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so with great boldness and courage, the apostle begins to deal with the sin and God is confronting all of us on where we are at spiritually. Do not think that somehow that the apostle is unloving or God is unloving and confronting us about where we’re at spiritually because in so doing he is showing true love because if you love someone, you will warn them if they’re headed down the wrong road.

If you love me and I’m driving down a road and you say, Mike, the bridge is out, don’t go down that road, it’ll end up in a disaster. It’s because you love me that you tell me, don’t go down that road.

But if you don’t love me, you’ll let me go and destroy my life but God loves you friends. He cares about you and he doesn’t want you to destroy your life. And so this morning it is a call to repentance and I’m going to go to the church So I want you to consider some questions as you’re listening to the message.

First of all, God, is there anything I should confess this morning? Maybe God will bring something to your attention that He wants you to confess to Him. Is there anything that God wants you to change?

Consider that question. Maybe God wants you to make some changes in your life because these things that you’re involved in or this path that you’re on is dishonoring to Him and it’s leading to a path of destruction.

Is there anything that you need to make right with God? Many times our relationship with others are a mess is because our relationship with God is a mess. And maybe God is saying, look, I want you to come home and I want you to receive me and I want you to be in tune with me, meaning God Himself, and that you and I, God, would have a beautiful relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

It takes courage in all of our life to deal with our sin. Pride says, oh, don’t worry about it. Pride says, hold on to it. Pride says, I enjoy it. But humbleness says, Lord, change my heart. Help me to be that person you’ve called me to be.

Now, there are three things that bear out in this text that the apostle wants us to address in repenting, and I want to bring them to our attention. But first of all, is a critical spirit. God is calling us to repent of a critical spirit.

Now, we got to back up to understand this, but here we are. Look at verse 17. The apostle says, did I take advantage of you by any of those whom I sent to you? And verse 18, I urged Titus and sent our brother with him.

Did Titus take advantage of you? The obvious answer is no. Did we not walk in the same spirit? Yes. Did we not walk in the same steps? Yes. Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves or defend ourselves to you?

We speak before God in Christ. We do all things, beloved, for your edification. Here’s what was going on is that the apostle was receiving accusations that somehow he was trying to financially gain off the church.

And they said, well, he’s not taking a fee, he’s not taking an offering, so maybe he’s using his associates, his team members, to get money to him through the back door. Now, these absurd critical attacks upon the apostle were way out of bounds, and they certainly were not true.

And the apostle had always operated above board, and he always had financial integrity. And that’s why he says in verse 17, did we ever take advantage of you? And the obvious answer is no. Then he says, did my brother Titus, did he take advantage of you?

No. didn’t Titus and I walk in the same spirit? Here was the model of Paul and his whole missionary team when they showed up at the church at Corinth was to help them and it was solely that we would not receive an offering from you because we already have other churches who are supporting us and we are not here to take financial gain from you but we are here to edify you.

We are here to strengthen you in your walk and that was not only the model of the apostle but it was the model of his team including Titus and he’s trying to put to rest any concerns, any criticism that the Corinthians might have about his motives and his intentions.

And what I love about this is that he says there at the end of verse 19, but we do all things beloved for your edification. That’s our main task as we minister to others is that we are to promote their edification.

The word edification has the idea of building up. It’s the idea of one brick upon another brick. And so we are building up. We are building up people. That’s what God’s called us to do. You know, sometimes we find that in our relationships that we get very critical.

We are always spec finding. That’s what Jesus said in Matthew chapter seven is that we need to learn to take care of the beam in our own eye before we take care of the spec in someone else’s eye. There are people in our lives that sometimes they’re always criticizing us or we find ourselves always criticizing.

I tell husbands and wives and moms and dads and parents, look, if you’re going to spend your life criticizing each other, you’re going to crash and burn in your relationships. God is calling us to not be critical in our spirit, but he is calling us to be edifiers.

He’s calling us to build other people up. He is calling us to help others. And so when we look at our relationships, we can’t have this negative critical spirit. It’s easy to find fault. It’s easy to say, hey, look, your life is a mess.

What really God wants us to do is look at our own lives. Take care of our own backyard before we start cleaning up everybody else’s backyard. That it’s our responsibility to look at people in a way that we can build them up.

So how can I do that? Well, let me just give you some suggestions. First of all, in all of your relationships, always seek to be a blessing. Always seek to be a blessing. You need to be praying, God, help me to be a blessing to my spouse.

Help me to be a blessing to my children. Help me to be a blessing to this person that you brought into my life. Help me to be a blessing on the job. Help me to be a blessing to this person or that person.

God brings people in our past, sometimes strangers, people we don’t know. God, how can I be a blessing? to them. That ought to be our motive. That ought to be our intent is we just want to bless others.

Yes, there are many flaws. Yes, there are many failures. Yes, there are many problems in people’s lives, but you can’t focus on the negative. You’ve got to ask God to forgive you of a critical spirit and focus on the positive and be someone who is building others up rather than tearing them down.

Listen, friends, we are flawed people. It doesn’t matter who you are. You may say, well, listen, I’m perfect and I’ve never made a mistake. Well, right there’s your first one because you’re lying to us.

And so we must understand that God has not called us to find out what’s wrong with everybody. He’s not called us to point out what’s wrong with everybody, but He is calling us to be a blessing. Another way that I try to be an edifier is how can I, Lord, help this person?

How can I help them? How can I help them? So you’re here. How can I get you to the next level? If you’re this point in your life, how can I get you to take a step for God? How can I be an encouragement to you?

See, when you are putting yourself interest on the back burner and you’re putting the interest of others before you and you go into every relationship that you have as I want to be a blessing. I want to be someone who helps.

I want to be this encourager. The apostle Paul was always someone who was trying to build people up and that needs to be our ambition. And that’s what he says in verse 19. He is saying to us, he wants to in all things and every aspect of their life, he wants to help them and edify them.

You know what will change your marriage? Church is for you to take time to write down all the wonderful things about your spouse rather than spending all your time on all the negative things. You know what will change your relationship with your children?

Focus on the positive, not the negative. I’m not saying children don’t need to be disciplined, guided and directed. And there aren’t times that things have to be confronted in our lives. We agree with all that, but we just cannot be these people that are always tearing others down.

Listen to what the apostle says in Romans 14 verse 19. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace and things where with one may edify another. You see that? God wants us to live in peace, not just peace with him.

We are to have peace with God by waving the white flag and surrender and say, Lord, here’s my life. I surrender my life to you. I want to live in peace with God Almighty, and I want to experience the peace of God in my life, but I’m called to live in peace with others.

I’m not called to go out there and stir it up and stir it up. I’m not called to go out there and start a conflict and try to rouse people up into a frenzy, but rather I am called to help people to live in peace.

And so my job is to live in peace with others by edifying one another. That’s what God calls me to do. And so I want you to evaluate your life. I want all of us to look at our hearts and say, look, if there’s anything in my heart or in my spirit that is saying I’m critical, I’m negative, I’m hateful, I’m rude, I’m tearing down others, God forgive me.

I want to repent of that. I want to change that in my life. Bless me with a spirit of edification. Now, some of you may be the recipients of criticism. You may find yourself where you go to work, it’s constant criticism, or you are in a relationship where it’s constant criticism, or there’s certain people in your life that are always negative and they kind of…

I want to try to bring you down. I want to encourage you this morning and I want you to know that there is no amount of criticism or opposition that should ever hinder us serving Christ. Now, unfortunately, the devil can use people indirectly, unbeknownst to them, influencing them to be negative people.

But you do not let that detour you from following Christ, loving God, and choosing joy. Now, here the apostle Paul was a man who had been ridiculed. He had been beaten. He had been battered. He had been criticized.

He had been vilified, but his opponents were totally stymied when it came to shaking his focus on his mission. Every one of us are on assignment from God. He has a plan for our life. He has a purpose and we can’t get off that track.

We can’t let the negativity cause us to get off focus for the Lord Jesus Christ. Here the apostle Paul is trying to do the right things for the Corinthians and what are they doing? They’re attacking him.

They’re criticizing him because they are accusing him of taking money through the backdoor and he says, that’s not me. That’s not me. Look at verse 19 again. We speak before God and Christ. We do all things, beloved, for your edification.

Can you say that? They tried to distract him. They tried to bring him down. They tried to discourage him. They tried to defeat him, but the apostle would have none of it and you should be the same that you need to know that every day the devil is going to try to hinder you.

He is going to try to stop you from living for God. He is going to try to discourage you from honoring your life for Christ. He is going to put people in your life that are going to be negative, but you got to rise above it through the power of Jesus Christ and you got to stay on mission for God and you got to stay on mission for God.

You got to stay focused on what the Lord has called you to do. Now the second area that God wants us to work on, and remember those questions I presented to you at the beginning, is our social sins or what I would call our relational sins.

We talked about a critical spirit. What else should I repent of is that is those social relational sins in my life. Look at verse 20. He says, I fear when I come, I shall not find you, such as I wish, that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish, lest there be contention, jealousy, outbursts of wrath and anger, selfish ambition, backbiting, gossiping, pride, conceit, and disorder.

Now the apostle has some very strong words for the believers, but it’s not the absence of love, he is trying to help them. to get off that track that is going to destroy their lives and ruin their relationships.

What is distinct about this is that this is all about our relationship with others. Think about it. Gossiping, outbursts of anger, jealousy, selfish ambition, contention between us and others. He’s warning us.

Unfortunately, within the Corinthian church and within the body of Christ, there had been some unresolved issues. What is it that is hindering the work of Christ in many churches? Unresolved issues between people, not making it right.

He calls us to address those issues. You can’t be right with God and wrong with others. You can’t have a mess in your life with relationship with other people and then you are somehow right with God.

You’ve got to know that to be right with God is to be right with others. Now, I want you to know that God is not calling us to be best buds with everybody, but He is calling us to make sure that we’re not harboring grudges and that we are not harboring anger and that we are not holding on to a spirit of gossip and pride and a desire to hurt other people.

You say, well, nobody can tell, pastor. Nobody can tell in my life. They can’t tell that I’m angry at them. They can’t tell that I’m upset with them. Well, listen to what the Bible says in Hebrews 4 .13, no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give an account.

You see, God knows. Other people may not know. The pastor may not know. And maybe even the people you’re mad at don’t even know that you’re mad at them. But God knows, doesn’t it? God knows where your heart is and you can’t hide it from God.

Everything that is hidden from man. God is exposed to God. God looks into our hearts and he sees our emotions. He sees our spirit. He sees the things that we harbor and the things that we hold on to.

And the truth is, is that God is calling you to come to the foot of the cross, to come to the altar of God, and to just lay it all out there and say, Lord, I give it to you. I give it all to you. That’s what God wants you to do.

One may wonder, why is it that Christians have so many disagreements? It seems that so many times that the people that we love so much can hurt us so much and we have these disagreements with them. But hear me, the real answer to our disagreement is rooted in our spiritual maturity.

When we refuse to take the high road and we refuse to be spiritually mature. We refuse to handle things in a godly way, honorable way rather than in a fleshly, worldly way. That’s where the contention starts.

That’s where the gossiping starts. That’s where the anger is. That’s where the outburst of wrath. Some people say, what’s the matter with me? It might be that you’ve been holding on to things so much that you’re like a balloon that it just kept coming and coming and coming and you finally exploded.

Because you never dealt with it, because you never talked about it, because you never brought it to Christ and you never put it on that altar and you never gave it to God. Now I want you to turn over to Ephesians chapter 4 and Ephesians chapter 4 verse 1, verse 1 through 6.

The apostle teaches us some really helpful relational skills that will help us to deal with things in our life as we are addressing people in our life. Remember a call to repentance and that is that I change directions, that I’m not going to handle it like the world.

I’m not going to handle it like my flesh wants, but I’m going to handle it like God wants. I want to tell you that making changes in your life is not easy because you’re never going to feel it. But you obey God and the feelings come later.

You don’t wait for the feelings and then obey God. You obey Him first and He works in your heart. Ephesians chapter 4 says, How’s that? With all loneliness? Gentleness? With long suffering? Bearing with one another in love and ever to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body, one spirit, just as you were called in one hope and one calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of all, who is above all and through all and in you all. What is he saying is that first I need to be able to be a part of the world.

in my interactions with other people is I need to be humble. Lowliness means to be humble. What’s it mean to be humble? It doesn’t mean that you think bad about yourself. It doesn’t mean you beat up on yourself.

It doesn’t mean you put yourself down. That’s not what humbleness is. Humbleness is how we treat others. Jesus taught us to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, it is imminent. And we know that God is calling each of us as well as our entire world to repentance.

And so I pray that as you are looking into this unique topic of repentance, that you are understanding the biblical perspective of a call to repentance. And remember that God is not only calling the unsaved to repentance, but he is calling every believer to consistently repent of our sins.

We won’t be perfect till we get to heaven. And the Bible says when we see him, we shall be like him. But until then, we still wrestle with the flesh, and we still have many temptations, but as we are living our life faithfully for God, we are striving for God to change us, and that is why we are constantly bringing our sins to Him, repenting of our sins, and going a different direction.

This is Pastor Mike Sanders reminding you that in Christ there is hope worth having.

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