The prophet Jeremiah was commanded by the Lord to write down on a scroll all of the words the Lord had spoken to him concerning the coming disaster He planned to inflict on them, and the offer of forgiveness if they would turn from their wicked ways. The king of Israel responded by confiscating the scroll and burning it, piece by piece. Afterwards, the Lord commanded Jeremiah to write another scroll with the same warning and offer of forgiveness. The Scriptures tell us how the new king responded:
“Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet” (Jeremiah 37.2).
The call to confess and repent is basic to the relationship between the Lord Most High and those who desire to be His people. David knew this when he wrote, “Who may ascend the hill of the lord? Who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol” (Psalm 24.3-4). Peter knew this when he was asked by the crowds on the Day of Pentecost, “What shall we do?” His answer was simple: repent (see Acts 2.37-38). And Jesus knew of this basic element of the gospel when He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matthew 5.8).
I have found this basic principle to be true in my own life: I embrace the idea of confession and repentance more than I embrace the practice of confession and repentance. In other words, I know that I cannot continue to live in sin and enjoy the presence of God, but I rarely go through any process of self-examination that would lead me to confess and repent. I am more like the king who paid no attention to the words of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah than I care to admit.
On Sunday, you will be offered a challenge, a challenge to practice confession and repentance rather than just to embrace the idea. Please pray that the Lord would prepare you to embrace it.