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Charles Stanley - The Missing Link




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Do you find yourself confessing the same sin to God over and over again? Why do you think that's happening? You say, Well because I'm committing the same sin over and over again. Well, why would you have to commit the same sin over and over again? Do you think it's because you haven't dealt with it to begin with? You say, Well the Bible says, If I confess my sin, He's going to forgive me. You need to read the whole verse. What is He really saying? He says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness".

I think there are a lot of people who become a Christian, but they don't have any victory in their life. They become a Christian with failures in their life, sins in their life. They ask God to forgive them. They trust Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. They really and truly believe that that's the thing to do and they've done that. Then when it comes to dealing with sin, it appears that the same old sins are either still there; or when they confess them, it seems that nothing happens. And they read that verse and they think, well, why don't I have any victory? I want to answer that question in this message.

So I want you to listen carefully. Wherever you are, you may be lost, that is, you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior. You desperately need this. If you are a Christian, you could equally as desperately need it because you're not having victory in your life. You don't have any real peace because you're still sinning in your life. You're doing things that you know you should not do. In fact, you don't even want to do them. In fact you look at Romans chapter seven, you say, Well, I sound like the Apostle Paul who said, I do the things that I don't want to do and I don't do the things that I want to do.

So, what's the real key? What's the missing link and real victory in your daily life and oftentimes continuous defeat? So I want you to turn to the last chapter of the book of Luke. And this last chapter of the twenty-fourth chapter, Jesus is giving a message to His apostles before He leaves them. And I want you to notice what He says beginning in this particular verse, verse forty-four of the twenty-fourth chapter, "Now He said to them, 'The,'" watch this now. How how serious this is, Now, "'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, And He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Christ,'" the Messiah, Jesus, "'would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, And that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.'" And He was referring to the coming of the Holy Spirit. What I want you to notice here, He says, This is your message. This is your message, "that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem," to the uttermost parts of the earth.

Now, when I look at that passage and I think about what Jesus is commanding them, He uses the word "repentance" here. And if you look through the Bible, for example, you'll discover that twenty-four times in the New Testament the word "repent" is found. In the Gospel of John, it's not even found. So, what does that mean? And we'll come to that. But repentance is a very, very vital part of the message. Now, let's ask the question, What does that really mean? In other words, it's one thing to say, Well, I repent of my sins. Well, what does that mean? So I want to give you a couple of definitions, one of them's sort of elaborating on the other one, and the first one says simply this. To repent means I have a heartfelt sorrowfulness in my heart for sin followed by renouncing of sin and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.

Now watch this. Repentance isn't just feeling sorry about it. But it's feeling sorrowful in my heart toward God about it and followed by a renouncing of it. It doesn't fit who I am. It doesn't fit in my life. And a sincere commitment to forsake it, to walk away from it in obedience to Christ. So, the very word, repentance, talks about what? It means a change of direction. If I'm heading in this direction, the wrong direction in my life, and I genuinely repent, what I'm going to do is I'm going to head in the other direction, which is the right direction. Now, I want to give you another just elaboration on that definition for a moment. Repentance is the recognition that sin is wrong. It isn't just a mistake, sin is wrong. It is against God, followed by a definite decision to turn away from sin and walk in obedience to Christ.

That is, there's something definite that happens when a person genuinely repents. It's a recognition of why they're sorrowful. They're sinning against Almighty God, not just themselves and maybe others. And it's a sorrow that doesn't stop at feeling bad for being caught, or feeling guilty. It's a sorrow that leads to genuine repentance which means I don't need that in my life. I don't want that in my life, because God doesn't want it in my life. And I choose to walk in a different direction and to walk away from that and to walk in obedience to Christ. Which simply means, repentance is all about a change of life.

So, let's think about the place of repentance when it comes to salvation. Because believers are to repent of our sin, but what about salvation? What part does that have? Somebody says, Well, you just believe in Jesus and that's it. Well, let's think about this for a moment. There's, watch this, there's a difference in believing about Him and believing in Him. I can believe about Jesus. I can believe everything the Bible says about Jesus and say, Yeah, well that's probably true. But believing in Him means that I accept Him for who He is. And as a result of that, knowing Him as the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior and the Lord I yield my life to Him. Many people believe about Him. And they'll tell you, Oh yes, I believe in Jesus. What they're saying is I believe about Him. They don't question that the Bible is true, or they don't question the fact that God loves us. And they can have all kind of general ideas, but to believe in Jesus involves repentance.

In the book of John, he says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life". He didn't say believes about Him. He said believes in Him. And to believe in Him is to accept what He says about Himself is true. And as a result of believing that He is the Savior, the Messiah, our only hope; no one comes to the Father but by Me He said. Believing that, placing your trust in Him as Savior, Lord and Master, that is salvation, but that also involves repentance, confession and repentance. And so, repentance is my willingness to let God turn me around and send me in a whole different direction.

You say, Well, now wait a minute. If salvation means I'm forgiven and repentance means I have a change of life, suppose I sin again, am I lost? No. Well, then how do I deal with that? In other words, what's God's attitude? Here is God's attitude about that, that's so absolutely crystal clear. If you'll turn to First Corinthians chapter 3 for a moment. And remember that Corinth was one of the most, it was considered the most wicked city in those Roman times. In fact, you couldn't be more sinful and wicked and vile and ungodly than being Corinthians. Listen to what he said, watch this now, to the Christians living in Corinth, verse one of chapter three, "And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men," mature people in the faith, "but as men of flesh," you know, having a problem with sin in their lives, "as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink," he says, I've taught you the simple things of the Word of God, "not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it".

He knew what they could understand and couldn't understand. He said, I taught you the simple things because you weren't ready to see the others, "Indeed even now you are not yet able," watch this, "For you are still," now they're believers, "still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men"? And he begins, he keeps on talking about that. So, what is he saying? A person can be saved by the grace of God. Repent of your sins, trust Him as Lord of your life. But because it's a brand new life. You have the Holy Spirit living within you to enable you to live a godly life.

Well, who knows that? I think about when I was saved and I know I was saved and never doubt it. On that Sunday morning, I got down on my knees at the altar and asked the Lord to save me. I didn't know much. I'd listen to the pastor week after week. I'd sit on the second row every Sunday right at the end. But I knew that morning I was saved and I have never doubted it. What did I know about living a Christian life? Not too much. Did I sin after I was saved? Yes, I did. Did I get convicted about sin? Yes, I did. I was convicted. Did you repent every single time? I'm not even sure I understood what repentance was about. As a young lad twelve years of age, I didn't understand much. I was exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about. He says, You're still babes in Christ.

And so what Paul is saying here is this. Even though we've been saved by the grace of God, if we're immature in our faith, and some people are immature in their faith because they choose to be. If you've trusted Him as your Savior, the responsibility of learning the Word of God. You say, Well I don't have anybody to teach me. If you'll keep listening to "In Touch," you'll begin to learn. This is not the only place, but it's one place. You have a responsibility to learn what it means to live a Christian life, to live a godly life; to repent of sin. Because we're not perfect.

Now watch this. We're not perfect, but we're responsible. I'm responsible for what I do, what I say, and every aspect of my life, I'm responsible as a believer. Will I live a perfect life? No, I won't. The Apostle Paul said in that seventh chapter of Romans, and everybody's read that and wondered what in the world did that mean. He says, The things I don't want to do, I find myself doing. The things that I want to do, I find myself not able to do it. He was going through a stage in his life. But listen, if you're genuinely saved, you will never be happy or satisfied living in sin. You will not. You cannot, you know why? Because you have a whole different nature. You have the Spirit of God within you, convicting you of sin.

Many people will tell you that they're saved. They're not saved. They believed about Him, but they're not truly believed in Him, surrendering their life to Him. If somebody says, Well, if you're saved, you won't sin. Not even the Apostle Paul said that. So the issue's this. And it's not a fine line. It is simply a matter of understanding. I place my trust in Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I surrender my life to Him and I repent of my sins. And as best I know my heart, I give myself to Him as best I understand at that particular point in life, and I start living a Christian life. Then what happens? If I'm genuinely, truly saved and I sin against God, the Spirit of God's going to convict me. I'm going to ask Him to forgive me and I'm going to repent of it.

You say, Well, how many times do you have to do that? Well, I don't have any idea how many times I've had to say, God, forgive me for that. I truly repent of that sin. 'Cause remember, when you and I are saved, we're like babes. And we grow in our Christian life. We don't tolerate it; we don't excuse it; we deal with sin when it becomes a part of our life. So, there are those who say, Well now, wait a minute. Doesn't the Bible say, "For by grace are you saved through faith; that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast". And the answer's yes. You're not, listen, you're not saved by your works. You're saved by the grace of God, the goodness and the love of God brought about at the cross, the shedding of His blood. As a result of that, then I certainly want my life to be, and just like you want your life to be one of good works. You're not doing good works to get saved.

Listen, it's faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance of your sins, believing what He said. Now somebody says, Okay, but now let's talk about this matter of confession for a moment because that's what we usually hear about. I have a definition I want to give you of confessing for a moment because this is what people say. Well, I've confessed my sins. Watch this carefully. To confess is to agree with. That's what it means. I confess this. I agree with it. It's to agree with, say the same thing as God would say. If I confess that I've sinned, I'm agreeing with Him that what I did was wrong. To agree with God's view of our sin, that it is wrong; should be removed from our life. Repent of it. Agreement is not enough. It must go.

So, somebody says, Well, I can, if I sin against God, I just confess it. Usually what that means is I just tell Him about it, and as far as I'm concerned that's the end of it. No, no, no. Confession is the first part. Confession is agreement with God and repentance is the second part. It's not a matter of works. It's a matter of the attitude of the heart. And so, when you see confession in that form, it means we agree with God about what He's saying about our sins. And that is, they don't belong there. And so, just think about this for a moment. A sanctified life is a life that is set apart by God for God, for His purposes.

When you get saved, when you trust Him as your Savior, listen, He not only redeems you; He pays the price. He justifies you; He declares you righteous. He reconciles you; bringing you back to Himself. He sanctifies you, which means He sets you apart for Himself, for His purposes. That's why living in sin, once you've been saved, does not fit who you are. Because the Holy Spirit came into our life to sanctify us, to set us apart as the children of God, to do what? To live a godly life.

Listen to what he said. He predestined, that means He determined beforehand. He predestined you and me to be conformed, shaped spiritually, be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that's Jesus. Not physically, but spiritually. His goal, He predestined. That is, He predetermined before it all began. He predetermined that once you and I are saved, what would happen? He would begin to form in our lives the character, conduct, our conversation like that of His Son. That's His will and purpose for us. We can't ever excuse sin. If we sin in our life, we are to confess it and repent of it, deal with it right then. God, this doesn't fit who I am and so I'm asking You to forgive me and cleanse me. And any, listen, any confession that has no repentance is incomplete.

Now let's look at First John one nine, if you don't know where that is, turn to Revelation, Jude, Third, Second, and First John backwards. Look at this. Let's start with verse seven, "But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin". Now he's writing to Christians. If, listen, if we're walking in the light as He is in the light; listen to what he says. He says, Here's what happens. "We have fellowship with Him with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is continually cleansing us from sin". That's if we're walking in the light. If we're not walking in the light, that's not true. Look, "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess," agree with God about our sin.

Now let me ask you a question. What do you think God thinks about your sin? You know it's wrong. It doesn't belong in your life. It doesn't fit who you are. It doesn't fit your relationship to Him. It shouldn't be there at all. Therefore, we need to repent of it. Amen? Okay now, amen. Now listen, "If we confess our sins, what is confess? We agree with God that it's wrong, "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". That is, He makes things different.

So is confession important? Yes it is. This is what Paul said. He said till you change clothes, take it off. That's what He said in Colossians that third chapter, eighth verse, he said, Put it away. Put away those things that do not fit who you are as a child of God. Put them away. Take it off. So he uses a term in the Greek like you take off your clothes. Take it off. It doesn't fit who you are. If you've ever trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and you really meant it, then you confessed your sins to Him. Maybe you didn't know what repentance was all about. Here's what it's all about. It's about your confessing and agreeing with God about it, and then what? Deliberately, willfully doing what? Walking away from that in your life because you don't want that in your life.

God can read your heart. He knows whether you want it or not. He knows when we'll fail, but He knows our heart. He knows it, we don't want to. And there are times when people get themselves in situations, they don't want to be disobedient, but they find themselves doing it and do what? The more you weep over it and the more sorrowful you are; and notice what he said, sorrowful unto repentance. God, I don't want that in my life. Remember what you have. You have the Holy Spirit living within you who will enable you to overcome anything and everything that is not of God. It's a choice we make. Is it an easy choice? No. Is it a choice that you fail sometimes? Yes. He didn't say be perfect. He said be obedient.

And there are times in our life when we have to ask Him, God, forgive me for saying that or thinking that. I genuinely repent, I don't want that in my, in other words, I don't have to, I tell Him this and you would tell Him this. We don't have to convince God of whether we're sincere or not. He already knows. And He answers accordingly. Amen? If you've never trusted Jesus as your Savior, think about this for a moment. You're living in a world that's a fouled up, mixed up, horrible mess. And so, it's just you against the world.

What you need is to ask the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you of your sinfulness, genuinely repent of it. Lord God, I don't want it in my life any longer. I genuinely want You to remove this from my life. Somebody says, Well, you mean to tell me that I can't be saved unless I repent of my sin? Well let me ask you, what's believing all about? We explained that. It's all about you putting your trust in Him on the basis that you know about your sinfulness; and that only He can forgive you; and that He will when you ask Him sincerely and repent of it. That is, you choose to walk away from it. Not be perfect. Doesn't mean you'll never do it again, but your whole heart, you want Him to have your life. He makes everything different, if you'll trust Him.

Father, we pray the Holy Spirit will take the truth of Your Word. Let it be like fresh water, cool spring, to those who are struggling and wondering if You'll ever forgive them or cleanse them enough to be clean and pure in their life. I pray that they'll be willing to acknowledge sinfulness; ask You to forgive them and genuinely repent of that sin and trust You to enable them to walk a godly life; because that is Your will, purpose for every single one of us. And we ask this in Jesus' name, and for His sake, amen.

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