As I have thought about the blessings of these benedictions, I realize they have a relationship to repentance. Becoming aware of our sin, humbling ourselves as we recognize our failure and emptiness in terms of what we have to offer a holy God, is the beginning.
First we repent. Then, as we receive His forgiveness, we also receive His blessing (benediction) to move from failure to where we are in Christ.
Accepting His free gift of forgiveness is huge. It is not easy to acknowledge that even the best that we do for God is useless in terms of value to God. It is likened to the filthy menstrual rags of the day–and that is the value of our best efforts. ICK! We can trust that the work He did on the cross for our salvation was enough to pay for our sin and trust that His free gift of salvation was enough to provide what we need to stand righteous before Him because of Jesus. That is what faith is. It is a daily thing, not a once and for all thing.
Now, we must receive the Benediction. We receive it into our lives and hearts. We receive the truth of it, that only God can rescue us from ourselves. It is His love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and care for us that gives us hope and changes us into women who are able to love Him and love others. We receive His blessing on us to move forward from where we are to where He is moving us.
Repentance does not mean groveling, doing penance, or hiding out in our personal caves.
As we walk by faith over the years, we do continue to sin. Again, we must repent before God of our sinful deeds and actions and sometimes to other people as well. But the final part of that process of repentance does not involve groveling in order to do penance for what we did wrong. There is nothing Biblical or gospel-oriented about that!
The final part of repentance, is accepting and believing by faith, that God has forgiven us. For some of us, this is not easy. In fact, it is so hard to believe it is possible for God to forgive us that we often droop our heads as we admit our sinfulness. (As if God didn’t know we were sinners.) But it is the dirty little secret everyone knows and of course, God knows the full truth most of all!
As we receive the gift of His forgiveness for our sins and failings, we can move forward as forgiven people who are loved by God. We don’t have to be ashamed because our forgiveness is thorough and complete.
This is the part of repentance that I didn’t understand was a part of it. I only saw the hard side of it. Who likes admitting they are bankrupt and needy?
I didn’t see the good side of repentance and as a result, I often walked away from the process not always feeling forgiven, especially if I found it hard to forgive myself (which is totally irrelevant to what is happening.) In practical terms, I often felt the need to grovel either before God or other people.
That is the part of repentance that I really didn’t understand for a very long time, at least in practical terms. (And that is where it often counts!) That is what makes repenting something to look forward to. It’s not merely something that involves the embarrassment of admitting I am wrong or that I have broken one of God’s laws.
Repentance is asking God to search my heart; to open my blind eyes to my hidden idols
It is asking God to search my heart and show me the truth of what is there; to open my blind eyes to what I am trying to protect in terms of my precious desires and idols. It is asking Him to change the direction of my heart so it goes after Him and HIs values instead of mine. Then, believing Him when He says I am forgiven. That takes faith. How can He forgive me? It’s hard enough for me to forgive me. (And I don’t have the ability or the authority to do it.) In fact, only He has both the authority and the ability to forgive me.
Receiving the Benediction means joyfully receiving God’s acceptance of me: His love and forgiveness of all my mess.
Receiving the Benediction means joyfully receiving the truth of God’s acceptance of me: the good, bad, and the ugly. Yes, He loves me and died to pay for my sin that separated me from Him. But He lived a perfect life on earth as the God/man. (He lived out who He was.)
So He could pay for my sin as the perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed for sin–the atonement for all who would believe in Him. But that forgiveness didn’t come cheap for Him. It cost Him a horrible and painful death He didn’t deserve as well as separation from His Father. I can never pay Him back, but when I sin, it can never be something I take lightly.
As a child of God, I can receive each of the promises mentioned in these Benedictions for myself. They are encouraging and hopeful as I face the future, especially if I am in the middle of difficult times. Each one reminds me of God’s gracious care for me, yet pushes me forward to trust him for more as well…in terms of holy living, reaching out to the world around me, and loving others genuinely.
- Read the two linked passages Colossians 2:13-15 and Hebrews 10:11-23. What do you learn about God’s forgiveness? Repentance? Anything surrounding those truths? Jot down.
- There are no benedictions in those passages but how do you see the truths you found there relating to the benedictions you have been reading? Are there specific ones that relate more than others? Jot down your comments.
- Write out a benediction based on the truths you have found regarding the quality of God’s forgiveness and your new life in Christ. If other Bible verses come to mind, add them in.