Turning To God In Christ Is Key To Overcoming Sin
As new covenant believers, we repent primarily to God’s promises and our prophetic destiny rather than just from our sins and weaknesses. We are more for good than we are against evil.
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-9 (Also 2 Corinthians 3:7-18; 2 Peter 1:3-8)
Paul was in agony, wondering how his new converts in Thessalonica were doing. He had come to their city as a result of a vision of a Macedonian man beckoning him to come from Asia Minor to Europe. After a short stay in Philippi he came to their city and began a work. The same Jewish rabble-rousers who opposed him in Philippi came to Thessalonica and stirred up civil and religious opposition to him. He had to leave prematurely for Berea; was received openly there also; but the same opponents forced an exit from there to Athens. He was concerned about the new believers. Will they continue in their new faith, or will they fall back into their old life and beliefs. He sent Timothy to check on them and the return brought news that elated him. They were not just surviving; they were flourishing in their faith! How did this happen with so little pastoral help? The key may be found in 1 Thessalonians 1:9. It sets the pattern for how we are to live out the Christian life– as opposed to dead religion.
Their conversion was by “turning TO God FROM idols!” Many would say we need to REPENT first (“turn from idols”) and then BELIEVE (“turn to God”), but that’s not the way Paul understood it or taught it. The old covenant taught that if you will do your part, God would fulfill His part. But Paul recognized that there was a problem with that– the power of sin to shackle us. It was like saying “if you get out of the handcuffs, I will set you free.”
The new covenant transformed that idea into “because you can’t do it (because sin’s power prevents it), I will do it!” In other words, when we turn to God in faith, the power of our old lives will be broken… we want to forsake sin and seek God even more. Now it’s saying “if you come to me with your handcuffs, I have the key that will set you free!” It’s not that repentance leads to faith; but faith that leads to repentance.
If this is how we are saved, how much more does this new covenant concept affect how we live. Both John the Baptist and Jesus declared that we must “repent to see the Kingdom of God.” Repent (metanoia) means to “change your mind.” Under the old covenant it meant to turn away from sins and weaknesses that would create a barrier to God. Under the new covenant, our sin was taken away, its power was stripped and we are under continuous “right standing” with God. Though we are to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), our repentance primarily involves the transforming of our minds (Romans 12:2) into believing God’s promises to us (of who we are and what we have already received) and of moving into our prophetic destiny. The primary sin of a new covenant believer is unbelief. Every word, promise, prophecy of God comes with power. When we believe it, we have power to overcome sin. Whenever sin is active in our lives, it is because we either don’t believe or have stopped believing!
That’s why the primary means of transformation isn’t by looking inward, identifying our sins or weaknesses and purposing to forsake them. Transformation comes when we gaze openly upon the glory of the Lord. Since we are influenced by what we admire… we become like what we worship! These open encounters with God stirs faith in our hearts to believe what He says about us (a renewing of the mind), and we see a process of changing “from glory to glory” worked out in us by the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). Peter reminds us that the promises of God make us partakers of divine nature that will enable us to escape the corruption in the world (2 Peter 1:3-8). May the church today live in reality that the Thessalonians modeled before us.
- Has your repentance been focused more on your failures and sins or on God’s promises and your prophetic destiny? Have you ever made a journal of your promises and/or your prophecies?
- What are some promises you need to “change your mind” and agree with God about today? What prophetic words for your life do you need to agree and step up into?
Declaration: As you pray today, make the following declaration…
I am a saint. I am a child of God. The promises of God are mine to possess. I go to the word looking for who I am and what I have inherited. I want every benefit that Jesus bought and paid for on the cross for me! I will repent of anything God shows me that I have yet to appropriate. I set my gaze on the glory of God, desiring to be like Him. The Holy Spirit is changing me from glory to glory!