A Culture of Repentance

God calls us to be a people of prayer, desperately depending on Him to move and transform hearts and lives. In this series, The Village Church focuses on three prayer topics: racial reconciliation, the sanctity of human life, and governments and institutions.

Topic: Repentance Scripture: Psalm 51:111

Transcript | Audio

Transcript

Good evening. How are y'all doing this evening? I'm glad to be able to hang with you guys for the weekend. My name is Eric Mason, lead pastor at Epiphany Fellowship, and I am honored to be here tonight at The Village Church here in Flower Mound. Words can't express our gratitude for the partnership God has developed between this church and Epiphany Fellowship, where I pastor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, over the last five years now. It's been five years of partnership. We can give God a hand praise for that can't we? Yeah!

We just recently started a basketball league for at-risk youth in our neighborhood in our city. We've gotten to the point where kids are bringing 10 or 15 kids with them a week, so we had to put a cap on what God is doing with that. What's crazy about it is, because Philadelphia is a predominantly Islamic city, even above Christianity, it's wonderful to see even Muslims are coming, bringing their children. It's just an interesting dynamic by which we have a great opportunity to develop some common ground with what the Lord is doing to be able to lead some people to Christ who we wouldn't normally have common ground with.

The resources you have given and you have allowed us to partner with you with and you are partnering with us with have been a phenomenal, phenomenal help. The next partnership we're going to be looking at with you guys for this next summer, which we're excited about this summer coming up, is a team (a group) is coming from The Village and spending a month with us while we do our first summer youth program. If you could keep that lifted up in prayer, it's going to be… Amen. I heard somebody clapping. Amen.

It's a really good time for us to connect and engage families in a neighborhood where it's 75 percent single‑family homes. This is going to be great. This will be some of the greatest interaction, to be able to share Jesus with them, to serve them, to love them, and to even learn from them and see how God takes lives from spiritual death to spiritual life and from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. Amen, somebody? Amen. Let's pray. Then we're going to dive right into this text.

Father, we thank you for the rich nature of the gospel. Lord God, I'm honored to know and to be in a relationship with you. That's where we are. We are honored to be in a relationship with you. God, as we dive into a very difficult yet hopeful, because of Jesus, subject, will you allow our hearts and minds to be open and our souls to be open to everything you have to say to us? Teach us in this particular area of our lives how the renewing power of the gospel brings unadulterated hope to those who believe it. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God, our strength, our Redeemer, in whom we trust. In Jesus' mighty name… Everybody who agreed with that said, "Amen."

Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 51. We won't be able to do this entire psalm. It would take me probably three or four weeks to just work through it, so we're only going to deal with a portion of it. As you're turning there, why don't you stand? It's a tradition of mine. I just like when we read the Scriptures that the people of God stand. Y'all don't mind if I get a little bit traditional do you? All right. Just a little something something. I have a little old-school tinge in my back pocket I like to pull out every now and then, so love on your boy just for five minutes with this.

We're going to go from verse 1 to verse 6. Psalm 51. I'm going to read out of the ESV. It says, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart."

I want to tag this text with this subject just for a little while: the characteristics of a deeply repentant culture. You may be seated. If anything in our world is ever going to change, it has to have a culture of repentance built into the fabric of that particular aspect of culture. Repentance is a reoccurring theme ever since the fall that God has been demanding from human beings when we, not just by our nature but also by our activities, actions, and associations, would come to a point where we're being willing to repent of our sins.

Without repentance built into the fabric of any aspect of culture, what will begin to happen is a lethargic sense of life will build in and there will be embedded in it a level of compromise that God, by his holiness, will see as sinfulness in left field of his glory and his passions and his praise. In any culture, when repentance is not a requirement at the bedrock and at the central piece of it, people will begin to see things that are extremely against the will of God as a part of the normal matrix of a culture.

I've been given the task, kind of, of talking about racial reconciliation tonight, but to be honest, I actually don't like to talk about racial reconciliation because I think many times when we talk racial reconciliation we come to the table and we begin to talk and different ethnicities begin to discuss issues concerning racial reconciliation. What begins to happen is people get to arguing and then walk away with no systemic change on any level. Right now you can take a deep breath because you don't have an angry black man in front of you.

Some of you are like, "Oh, we about to get it tonight. Oh, my God! As black as he is, as bald as his head his, good God Almighty! Let me brace myself." You can take a sigh of deep breath a little bit. I want to talk about an overarching theme I think is much larger than racial reconciliation. To me, racial reconciliation is really a symptom of a larger issue that needs to be discussed. The larger issue that needs to be discussed is repentance. The issue with repentance is both the people who have been sinned against many times need to repent just as much as the people who sinned need to repent.

We need the Spirit of the living God, people of God, to build a larger, overarching culture of repentance in the church, because when that culture, by the Holy Spirit, is built into the fabric of the church you automatically will have sin issues dealt with because there is a willingness for people to see the massiveness of God's holiness but also a willingness to see the destitute nature of the sinfulness of man and all of the ways the sinfulness of man makes itself up in all of these different sin types.

Then what happens is when you see the holiness of God and a sin is made clear to you, you expeditiously repent of it and you're willing to work through all of the difficulties that come with repentance. Why? Because church is messy. Folk are messy. Small groups in community are messy. Listen. You and me? Guess what we are, too. Messy. Yeah, you're with me. Because we're messy, we need someone who took on our mess to redeem us from our mess.

Then, after he has brought us into relationship with the living God (that is Jesus), now we progressively become less messy through the process of building a culture of repentance. As we come here to this passage, to me this is the bedrock passage in the Bible on repentance. He doesn't say "repentance" one time in the passage.

He doesn't use the Hebrew word nacham any time in the passage, nor in the Septuagint do the translators use the word metanoeo one time in the passage. But one sniff of the culture of the heart of this broken dude right here before the holiness of God in the mire of his sin, you get the sense and the reality of the fact that repentance has taken place.

Just a few things as we get in the text on this idea of repentance. Repentance is the willingness to feel remorse and self-reproach for what one has done to fail in reflecting and living out God's standards. Repentance is to feel remorse (this is in the Old Testament), contrition, and self-reproach for the fact you have offended a holy God. In the New Testament, repentance means to change your mind the way you think things should be and embrace God's.

One of Jesus' first messages was a message he took from John the Baptist. He just preached the same sermon. He said, "Metanoeo, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." In other words, he said, "Repent from the way you think things should be and embrace the way God wants things to be." We come to the psalmist as he's written this passage on really an ode to restoration and reconciliation with God and with man. David has been hanging out and enjoying the spoils of being a beasty leader and king for the living God.

One day, as he sent his troops out to fight, he was chilling in the palace. Do you know what I'm saying? Hanging out enjoying his time in the palace. Kicking it. Do you know what I'm saying? Eating different types of spiced lamb and all different types of things. Enjoying himself. Sipping on a little something here and there. Then he gets up… I don't know if he got up from the bed where he was sleeping. I don't know if he had on his robe or he had on his tunic. I don't know if he had on his sandals. I don't know if he had his crown cocked to the side, but he walked out and he looked over his kingdom.

He folded his arms, looking around. All of a sudden he said, "Wow! Hey! Yo, yo, yo, yo! Can somebody come here for a second? Go get Shorty right there for me." In other words, he went, in the midst of this time of a great height of enjoyment, and told them to go get a little honey for him. When he got her, he went through… You know the story, some of you. He killed her husband to cover up the fact she was pregnant and that he had laid with her.

Nathan came to him, jammed him up as a beasty dude who stood toe-to-toe with him like, "You're wiling." After he told him, "You're wiling," he said, "Boom!" Then he was hurting. Then he went and eventually in probably a 24-month period wrote this psalm, which brings me to my first point. If you're going to build characteristics of repentance in the culture, especially in the church that is supposed to be the main state of repentance…

1. You must throw yourself on the character of God. Look at the text. He said, "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love…" Then he says, "…according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions." Then he says, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!" I like this because David, throughout this passage, is deeply acquainted with the character of God.

Without understanding the character of God, you won't want to walk in repentance. Why? Because our normal stance when we wile out and sin against the living God is we want to run, because we think God is going to ultimately and unadulteratedly take us out. What David does is he knows something about the living God that is powerful. He knows something about the living God that is beautiful.

One of the statements they used to say in the Old Testament was "the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, full of loving kindness and abundant in mercy, slow to anger and abundant in forgiveness," so he understood that more than just a cliché, he understood that as a part of the character of God. Because of his understanding of the character of God, it drove him to a desire based on being jammed up and based on sin that he did getting put in his face that he wanted to repent of his sin. What's beautiful about it is he says, "Have mercy on me…"

The word mercy here is an interesting word. It means really two things here. It means, "God, don't give me what I deserve," and "If I'm in the midst of what I deserve, can you make sure I don't get as much as I deserve as you could give me?" I don't know about you, but some of you have blown it. Some of you have been at a place in your life where you have blown it in a difficult way and you did not want to go before God because you had a faulty theological construct about who he is.

But a person who understands repentance, a person who has been brought into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ bombards the throne of grace and is willing to not have the gap between their fellowship with God destroyed and infringed upon to the point where they say, "Whatever I have to do, I'm going to recognize what God is like, I'm going to recognize what I'm not like, and I'm going to throw myself on the mercy of the Covenant Keeper to bridge the gap between me and him."

That's the first place of repentance. Repentance doesn't start with sin. It starts with God. If you look at your sin, you're going to get really depressed. You're going to get really, really depressed. When you look at yourself… "I'm so sinful." When you look at that and you stare into that long enough, you're going to need all kinds of medicine. You're going to need all kinds of help. Why? Because you are going to be in deep pain because your sin can only take you to your sin, not beyond it.

David, before he got to his sin, went before the living God who can deal with his sin. Then he said, "Show me mercy in this way. There are two ways I want you to show me your mercy." He said, "The first way which encompasses (both ways, really) is… I want you to do it according to your steadfast love." I like that. There are two ways God can deal with your sin.

Because of David's sin, he deserved death. He had two counts on him. As a matter of fact, there were three counts: conspiracy, adultery, and murder. He had three counts of death chasing after him, but I don't think he was going to go before God and say, "Lord, give me what I deserve in relation to my sin." I don't think he wanted those three counts. I know if I got a chance of getting off on something that was going to tear my life up, I'm going to ask God for some help on it.

He didn't throw himself on the holiness of God in relation to the anger of God being responsive to his wrath because of his hatred of his sin. That's not the aspect of the character of God he called on, family. The aspect of God's character he called on was his checed. He said, "I know you're going to deal with that yourself, but God, I need you to deal with that this way. I need your steadfast love." That steadfast love is a beautiful term, because it means God's loyal love toward his people. It means his covenant loyalty.

David is calling on this aspect of God's character as a means to continue unbroken fellowship and communion with the living God, because God's character of loyalty was most present in sending Jesus Christ for us to die on the cross for our sins. Just as in our sin we are called to the cross, so also in our sin we must entreat the Lord to remember the cross in light of our sin. Did you get that? That's very, very important for us to understand.

Then he says, "…according to your abundant mercy…" He goes further, and he begins talking. "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!" Because of his willingness to acknowledge who God is, now he can begin talking about and asking God, not just confessing his sin, not just repenting of his sin, but asking God, "Can you cleanse me of my sin?"

2. You must fully own the extent of your own sin. This is beasty right here. Look at what David says in verse 3. He says, "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." This idea of the Hebrew understanding of "I know" is beautiful here. It points to the idea of knowing something intimately. What David is saying is he was intimately knowledgeable of his sin. At one point he was blind to the reality of his sin. You and I cannot repent unless you are generally and specifically clear on the sinfulness of your sin.

Many of us don't like to look at our sin because we like to rush people beyond the impact of what our sin had on them. David is saying, "I know my sin in this instance. I know what my sin is in relation to your holiness, but I also know the challenges it caused the people around me." The repentant must understand the shrapnel and collateral damage their sin caused those around them. That's very, very important.

When you build a repentant culture, people are willing to recognize and hear hard truths from anybody around them based on the sin they've committed. You can't say, "I don't want to hear that any more. I'm not feeling all of that." When you're like that when somebody jams you up about your sin, guess what you are. Unrepentant. When you know the depth of the raggedy trash you put on somebody's life and the hell you put somebody through, it gives you what David will talk about later: a sense of brokenness.

When the gospel is challenging and shaping your heart from your sin, it makes your heart malleable, and it makes you willing to hear some of the most difficult things you don't want to hear. Many times, we say, "Well, God has forgiven me. You should forgive me." Listen. There is no where in the Bible where the offender demanded they be forgiven. Show me the verse from Genesis to Revelation. "You'd better forgive me. Do you know what I'm saying? If you don't forgive me, I don't know what God is going to do. I repented. I fell back from my sin. Now you ought to forgive me."

No. When you demand forgiveness versus asking for forgiveness, you have a twisted understanding of your sin, the holiness of God, and the impact your sin had on someone else. When you build a culture like that, you have to be willing to hear what everybody has to say and how badly it hurt people, how much it challenged people, how much it hurt. Even if you are benefiting off the sins of someone else and they're pouring out to you about the impact of that sin and you try to downplay the level of impact that sin had on somebody, it is extremely important for you to recognize that.

I had a family member who is like a man's man type of dude. Do you know what I'm saying? A fixed car type of dude. A carpenter type dude. Do you know what I'm saying? Knock you out, shotgun under the… Do you know what I'm saying? A thirty-aught-six up under the bed type cat. A three-generation-ago type dude still living. Rugged. Heart attacks. Cancer survivor. All of that coming up, saying, "Hi. I'm good." Do you know what I'm saying? During the course of his life, he has a wasteland of people he's crushed. I'm talking about blocks of people who his unredemptive form of manliness has hurt.

When people come to him to say, "JoJo, I just want to holler at you for a second and let you know you really did some messed up stuff to me." "I don't want to hear all that." He just goes off on them. Over and over and over again, there's this impenetrable fortress of a wall around his pride that is infecting and challenging his ability to have a deeper sense of oneness with God and a deeper sense of intimacy and oneness with others. What is the impenetrable fortress within your life that makes you extremely afraid to look at your sin and to examine what people are saying about you in light of the living God?

When JoJo looks back in his past and he looks back on his childhood, there are some things that happened to JoJo that he has never gotten over: father leaving, having to work to support the house before he was a teenager, and not finishing junior high school. All of these different things… Jim Crow South impacting him and his anger at seeing his uncle killed, his mom treated in a particular way by a white man. All of this impacted him and challenged him, and now he has a vast amount of chips on his shoulder.

He went to two wars and came back: Korean War and World War II. He came back with two Purple Hearts. When he got the two Purple Hearts, he got called nigger and threw them in the trash. What he's done is he's taken this arsenal of offenses against himself and he's become angry. Instead of taking that anger to God, what he's done is internalized that anger. In internalizing that anger, anger that ferments is bitterness.

That's why God says in Hebrews, chapter 12, "Don't become unbelieving like Esau who became embittered." It said, "The root of bitterness sprouting up defiles many." There it is. What happens is you could have been sinned against in your life, but because you didn't allow the Holy Spirit and the gospel to deal with that particular sin, you develop an entitlement mentality because you believe you're entitled not to forgive, because somebody didn't give you an opportunity to deal with the issue.

"I'm not going to deal with my mess because God won't deal with their mess. I am going to build a fortress around me where I will never, ever acknowledge anything I've done until God deals with the pain from my past that I've gone through." Some of you are right smack dab in that. What that is doing is it's holding you hostage from calls of God on your life. It's holding you hostage from new seasons from God. It's holding you hostage from blessings from God. It's holding you back from fellowship with God.

Some of you, it's holding you hostage from you loving your children like God wants you to love them. It's holding you back from loving your wife like God has called you to love her. It's holding you back from trusting pastoral leadership. It's holding you back from being in community. It's holding you back in so many areas of your life.

But God is calling you to say, "I want you to allow me, no matter what happened to you, to get out of the way that impenetrable fortress so you can see me and I can show you you. When you see me and I show you you, you will know me, and I will know you, but I want to deal with your sin. I don't want to leave you in your sin. That's why I sent my Son, so you wouldn't have to live in your sin, but that he could become sin on your behalf. I didn't send Christ to ignore sin."

God is very confrontational. God is not a passive God. The core of the gospel is God's willingness to confront the sinfulness of sin through Jesus Christ. When we don't confront the sinfulness of our sin but are willing to confront the sinfulness of someone else's sin we're not walking in a gospel-centered life. You can talk gospel until you sound like a rooster or a chicken, but if you don't deal with your own sin in your life and allow God…

David said, "I know my sin." He said, "I know it too well, God, but I know you, also, and I want you to deal with my sin, living God." David walks through and continues with the reality of dealing with his sin, but also, one of the things he knew he couldn't do…it's interesting…was rush people to a speedy recovery of the hurt and pain he caused.

One time, David and his boys were walking along through some fields and they were doing their thing. They were chilling. Walking. One dude was like, "David, look at you now, you bum! Look at you! You're all about the kingdom. Where's your crown now, dog? You ain't got no outfit no more. Your boys are walking out of the kingdom. Your son is up there with all your concubines and your wives. Where is that now, David?"

Joab said, "David, let me smash this dude right now. I'll take his head clean off. Just one swing and he'd be gone." David said, "Hold it. Fall back, Joab." He said, "This may be the Lord rebuking me. I know God has forgiven me of my sin, but the impact of my sin doesn't mean I'm not forgiven. It's just a reminder of the impact I've caused. Let God deal with it."

A repentant person, even though they know they're forgiven, still recognizes the consequences of their sin have affected people. That's the power of living a forgiven life. God doesn't let the consequences dictate whether or not you're forgiven. It's a reminder of the fact that sin does cause death, but you can still in the midst of that death walk in beautiful life in Jesus Christ.

You can't rush anybody out there. That's why Hebrews 3:13 talks about and warns us of the deceitfulness of sin that causes a massive, hardening effect on the hearts of God's people. He says, "Against you, you only, have I sinned…" He's not disregarding his impact on man. That's not what he's doing. He's basically pointing to the fact that, ultimately, his sin can be traced to be against the God of heaven and whose throne in which his sin is against.

In other words, he's taking responsibility for his sin. Then he goes further as he says, "…and my sin is ever before me." This is crazy because David held on to his sin for a year. When he slept with Bathsheba…it's crazy…he slept with her in this month, but Nathan didn't walk up on him and jam him up until a year later. David was sitting on his sin.

When David is writing Psalm 51, he says, "…and my sin is ever before me…" It's a grace from God when you're convicted of your sin. The reason why that's a grace from God is because God's grace is the only thing that can let you know how messed up you are and you be able to sense it. Be very afraid when you no longer feel the fact that you've sinned. Be very afraid when you can't sense the grief of the Spirit. Be very, very afraid when you can shake off the conviction of the Holy Spirit bidding you not into condemnation, but bidding you into repentance.

David sensed that, and he said, "…and my sin is ever before me…" He said, "God, for the last year my sin has been ever before me. It's been all over. I know I did it. No one else knows I did it except for a few people who know I did it. I've kept this secret with a small crew of people." I know we don't do that, but he had a small group of people who knew the real deal. He's out front trying to act like everything is okay. Righteous judging and talking all kinds of theological smack when there's a small group of people who know the hypocrisy of David for that year.

He's grieved about it. He's challenged by it. He said, "…and my sin is ever before me…" He said, "But it's deeper than my life." He said, "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me."

What David is doing is a full-run confession of his sin and dealing with his sin issues. One of the things that's very, very important in building a culture of repentance wherever you are is not talking a whole bunch when it's time to confess and repent of your sin before people. The Bible says in Proverbs 10:19, "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent."

When you have to go into a soliloquy… "I know I was wrong. I was wrong, but you have to understand." See? You're wiling out now. Now you're trying to justify your sin instead of just dealing with it. "You know, back in the day, man, the way I was treated by my…" No. That has nothing to do with what we're talking about right now.

When Nathan said there was a man and he had a few sheep and this dude came and took them, David was like, "Kill them! Destroy them! Kill them! Where is he? Bring him before me. I'll do it." Nathan said, "You're the man." He says six words: "I have sinned against the Lord." That was it. The refreshing nature… What's beautiful about being in Christ is, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

The Bible says if any man says he doesn't have sin, he's a liar and the truth ain't in the vicinity of him. That's what the text says. Eric Mason translation on the last part. The truth isn't in them, but then it says, "But if [we] sin, we have an advocate with the Father..." When you experience the truth of Jesus Christ's death on the cross, it frees you up to stop being phony. That impacts everything, which David moves to.

3. It causes you to long for real transformation. This is dope. This is beautiful stuff. The next thing David says in verse 6 is, "Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart." That is rich. That is rich information there. This word delight is interesting. It means to take pleasure in something. To be eager, to have a fondness or affection toward an object is to experience emotional passion in someone, something, or some place.

This delight may be felt by, of course, God or men. David is saying, "You delight. You have a passion for something in particular." He says it right after this. This word I had to do some digging on, but it's beautiful. The word truth here is interesting, because him delighting in truth in the inward being… The inward being is the place we have locked away from God. That's what the inward being is. I'm going to talk about truth in a second, but the inward being is the place in your life where you have said, "God, you can have this little area right here."

This area is like when somebody comes in your house and you say, "Make yourself at home," but you don't really mean that. Do you know what I'm saying? That doesn't mean, "Go up in my bed, and start pulling your toe fungus out. That's making yourself at your home, not at my home." We have limitations on that. When he said, "…you delight in truth in the inward being…" he is saying, "God, I want to let you in every single place in my life. Lord, I want you to be in these particular places because you want truth there."

This is where truth is interesting. It's not just theological information. It's a result of having it there in the realest sense of having Scripture and the Bible in particular areas of our lives. At the heart of the meaning of the root is the idea of certainty. The root form of the word is interesting. It means the concept of having support. Support is used in the sense of the strong arms of a parent supporting a helpless infant.

In this form used here, pulling that in with it, it means to cause surety or certainty, stability, faithfulness, fidelity, appropriateness, probability, and all in all integrity of mind and authenticity. In other words, God desires the right information and the right disposition in the places we've closed off from him. At Epiphany Fellowship, we have one building. Y'all have like 10, but we have one building. Man, this is funny.

Whenever the guy comes in and deals with all of our pest problems, he says, "I need you to open up every door here." He says, "I need you to go around the building. I need you to make sure I can exterminate in every sector of this facility, because I can deal with just this part you guys meet in, or I can deal with the kitchen, but if you don't open all of the doors, what's in this area of the building that is infested can get into the other parts of the building and absolutely begin to bring the destruction in this part of this building (these rodents, these devourers) into other areas of the facility. I need you to open up everything."

That's what God is saying to you tonight. God is saying to you tonight, "Open up everything all the way from the back, all the way up to the front, all the way up to the stage, all the way to the booth, on whatever campus that is going to be listening to this." You are going to have to open up every single solitary area of your life as you grow in Jesus Christ. You must begin to get used to, "God, I opened this door. I don't know how it smells in there. God, this is like one of those refrigerators that the electricity got turned off and the food got left in there."

What's beautiful about God is mess doesn't surprise him. No mess you or I deal with surprises him. Actually, he loves us so much he sent his Son to exterminate the planet of sin. That's why he sent him. When he comes back, the part of the planet that is still touched by the deceitfulness and destruction of sin will be thrown in the lake of fire. Second Peter 3 says the rest of creation that is unredeemed will be burnt with intense heat, but the only people who will be able to remain and the only thing that will be able to remain is that which is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some of you, now it's time for you. You're sitting beside someone who you know they've made a profession out of not being honest about their life. Some of you are professionally evasive in relationships. Tonight is the time to say, "God, I have been fearing this area of my life for a very, very long time. I'm going to open it up. This is it. I'm going to open this area of my life."

What does that have to do with racial reconciliation? Everything. I didn't want to deal with racial reconciliation. If we deal with our unwillingness to deal with sin, then other sins that come up when the culture of repentance by the power of the Holy Spirit is created in our lives, what begins to happen is the person who is living under white supremacy or living under white privilege or the ethnic minority who is constantly waving the fist of victimization…

When all the groups deal with their sin, their sinfulness, before a holy God, then it makes it much easier to talk about somebody else's sin. When the sinfulness of somebody else's sin is all you can see, then you don't see the sinfulness of your own sin, because the sinfulness of your own sin before a holy God makes you level the playing field and say, "All sin is equal even though I've been hurt, or even though this person keeps throwing this in my face."

When the sinfulness of sin is dealt with in each one of our lives, guess what? We can tackle a whole bunch as a church. Some of y'all have the plastic look on. I'm not talking about surgery. I'm talking about you know. You have the plastic look. You're always chipper and skipping and happy, and your life is rugged for real, for real. There is going to have to come a time in your life when you one day tell someone when they ask you how you're doing, you say, "My life is a mess. I'm hurting and I'm struggling. I need some help."

When you build a culture of repentance, nobody is trying to impress anybody. Nobody is cool anymore. Nobody can one-up everybody, because we know we're all a mess but for the grace of God. We know we're all in a difficult position but for the grace of God. When we look at the holiness of God and we look at the sinfulness of ourselves and we look at the glory of the cross of Jesus Christ and how he dealt with our sin and satisfied God's holy standard, when we come to the cross and look at the glory of the resurrection, we're on a level playing field.

Now we can talk without us wanting to punch each other out about the issues we don't like culturally or ethnically or economically about each other. Why? Because we're just a bunch of different-looking sinners who are in need of the same-looking cross. When you come to that, you don't become color blind. That's not biblical. Color-blindness doesn't show off the beauty of God's artistry. You don't say, "Well, I don't see black. I don't see white. I don't see nobody. I don't even know what color you are right now. I'm color blind."

That's not even in the Bible. That's not anywhere near the Bible. God created everything distinctly and fearfully and wonderfully made. The more the beauty of the gospel transforms something and transforms your outlook on life, then the world God created being changed by Christ becomes beautiful. We deal with our issues.

That's my prayer tonight. That we don't stop at racial reconciliation, but we take the umbrella and open it more widely. The umbrella of repentance…Because there can be no reconciliation without repentance. Reconciliation without repentance is phoniness, but reconciliation with repentance is beautiful gospel restoration.

Father, we thank you and honor you for the ability to come to you in hope that sin is and will be dealt with. I thank you Jesus Christ dealt with our sin on the cross. I'm thankful for that. You have been so merciful to us. God, I just pray you would rock us with again the beauty of your holiness, taking care of sin through Christ.

As our lives open up more progressively, Father, to Jesus Christ and his gospel and his death and his life and his resurrection, we have the glorious opportunity of not having to fear consequences anymore, because, ultimately, we will spend eternity with you and the eternal consequences of our sin are eradicated. Lord, help someone tonight who is hardened, who is still sitting there with their fists clenched at you. Will you grace them to be able to admit it, admit their deep need for you? In Jesus' name, amen.

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