Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Repentance is hard work.

And Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the Lord's people. Then all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars.
2 Chronicles 23:16-17

A young king and a priest who was gifted as a strong leader were used by God to bring renewal in Judah. But the repentance that Joash and Jehoida led was a rough road and what took place was not easy work. It involved both a positive commitment in a pledge to a renewed covenant with the Lord AND it involved the negative work of tearing down sinful idols and demolishing paths to false worship so that sin could be replaced with holy living. Idolatry had to be eradicated so that worship of God could be real.

Repentance without this demolition of idols is simply not repentance. God doesn't get to be one of several worship options. It fails somewhere in the swampy ground of regret or lost intentions if we don't rip out idols. Since repentance always means an "about face" in scripture, to get a new heading means recovering lost ground by marching back in the right direction past our false worship and to God. We must allow God to help us tear down before we build up.

In New Testament parlance, we must "put off" fleshly sins before we can "put on" the righteousness Christ provides. It isn't easy to rip down stone altars, kill our Baal leaders that have taken up leading residence in our hearts, and break apart cherished idols into rubble. But it is absolutely necessary if we are to truly live in repentance.

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