Tony Evans — The Key to Your Reversal
When a person has a master key to a facility, that means that they can unlock any door. All doors are subject to this one key. I want to launch our time together today by giving you the master key, because the key I'm getting ready to give you will unlock every door. You're not an exception to this key. It's a master key for whatever the circumstance or consequence is you are dealing with.
What is the master key that can give you hope about a reversal in your circumstances? Simply stated, the master key for the reversal of consequences brought on by sin is developing a lifestyle of repentance. Repentance is necessary because of the existence of sin. Sin may be defined as any violation of the divine standard, any violation of the divine standard.
The biblical word for it is "sin." The biblical word is not "mistake." The biblical word is not "bad habit." The biblical word is not "my bad." The biblical word for the violation of a divine standard is the word "sin." Let me hear you say, "Sin."
The reason why I want you to say it is 'cause it's not, like, a popular word, but it is the only word God recognizes when it comes to the need for the repentance that gives hope for the reversal of circumstances. So, whenever we violate, transgress the standard of God, God says that's sin.
Now, the reason it's a sin has to do with the nature of God. The Bible describes God as perfect and righteous in all of his ways. He is a perfect being. In the same way that you don't like trash or garbage, God doesn't like sin, so God cannot have any relationship with sin and maintain his holy integrity, so that means sin has to be addressed before consequences can be addressed.
What many people want is God to change their consequence without them facing their sin. "Leave my sin alone, but get rid of the problems caused by it. Don't ask me to adjust my sin. Make me feel better, look better, be better. Help a brother out. Help a sister out."
There can be no dealing with the consequence unless we deal with the cause, and the cause is sin, which is an affront to a holy God and a violation of his divine standard. Sin, in the Bible, violating God's revealed righteous standard is associated normatively with death.
You saw it over and over again in this Ezekiel 18 passage. Why will you die? Repent so that you don't die.
Romans 6:23 , "The wages of sin is death."
James 1:15 , "When sin is completed, it brings forth death." Over and over again.
Hosea 14:1 , your downfall is because of your sin, so death is associated with sin.
In the Bible, death means separation, a separation occurs. When we sin, a death occurs because a separation occurs. What's the separation? Fellowship with God is lost when sin is introduced. God must separate from sin. Since we are sinning, he has to separate from us in terms of our personal relationship, which I'll explain in a moment. A distance occurs when sin is introduced into a scenario.
When that gap occurs because sin has been introduced, that space, due to the gap caused by sin, then becomes filled with consequences. There is a spacing issue where consequences fill in the gap where the sin created the separation, because God is no longer there to block it.
You remember when God told Adam, "The day you eat the fruit, that same day you will die," but he didn't fall down dead that day. He didn't physically die that day, oh, but he died, because the Bible says that God removed him from the garden and from intimate fellowship with him. So there was a spiritual death. There was an emotional death.
It says fear took over and controlled him. Emotional death is when you can't live with you. Relational death, we hear couples say, when they are getting a divorce, the death of a marriage. There is a relational death that can occur. There is economic death, where your bills are controlling you and you're not controlling them, and so there is a death economically that can occur.
So, there are all these kinds of deaths, and they're all death in the Bible because the biblical meaning of death is an illegitimate separation. And, of course, then there is the worst death of all: eternal death. We call it hell. Eternal death is where a person is separated from fellowship with God forever. All those are called death in the Bible, so you must now clear your mind of limiting the definition of death to a funeral and understand that death is any illegitimate separation.
So then, what is life? Life is the coming together of things that should not be separate. It is the spirit in the body, it is the relationship on track, it is the economics in harmony. Life, or what the Bible calls eternal life, is not a place. That's heaven. It's an experience.
That is, life in the Bible is experiencing God's reality in harmony with you and in the various scenarios of your life. So, if you're a dead man walking or a dead woman walking in some category, there has been an illegitimate separation that needs to be harmonized again, and the word that God uses to bring the illegitimate to the legitimate is the word "repent."
That is his word of turning death into life. "Sin" is the word for taking life and turning it into death, so that's why repentance is the master key for whatever the scenarios are today, opening the door based on God's prerogative to reversing, limiting, canceling, or giving you the capacity to handle consequences.
It's his prerogative, but you don't even get position for that prerogative without the word "repent." Repentance is defined as an internal resolve and determination to turn from your sin. Repentance is an internal resolve and determination to turn from your sin. Sin creates a broken relationship where consequences brought on by Satan or situations or even what God allows to enter into your life because there has been a rupture.
Repentance is God's way of sowing back together the rupture with him. When the rupture with him is sown back together through repentance, the possibility of reversal of consequences now exist. Repentance is the internal resolve and determination to turn from your sin.
Without that internal resolve and determination, thus no real repentance, then you and your consequences must learn to live together the best way you can 'cause you are stuck with them.
Let me tell you the ingredients that you need to stir together to get a real repentance. Number one, to repent starts off with a recognition of sin. There is a recognition of sin, 'cause, see, if you don't believe it's sin, then you don't need to repent of it. It is sin because there is a violation of a divine standard. That's what makes something sin, so you must recognize it to be so.
1 John 1:9 says, "And if we confess our sins, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." The Greek word "confess" means "to say the same thing." It's what the Greek "homologia" means, to say the same thing. You must say about that thing what God says about it.
Secondly, there must be remorse over what you now recognize, what the Bible calls in 2 Corinthians 7, verses 10 and 11, godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is I've hurt God.
Now, you may have hurt your neighbors, you may have hurt yourself, but the one sin has offended the most is God, so he says godly sorrow leads to repentance. That this thing, whatever the thing is, has hurt the heart of God. He says it must be godly sorrow, not the world's sorrow. Worldly sorrow is you got caught. Godly sorrow is I've hurt the heart of God. Godly sorrow, guilt and shame over sin, must be the reaction to the recognition of sin.
Then, once recognizing it and being remorseful over it, there must be the decision to reverse it, the decision to reverse it. How do you know that this thing is real, that you really wanna deal with it? Fruit. In other words, you are doing something that demonstrates you want a reversal. He uses the word over and over in Scripture "return," "return."
Zechariah chapter 1, verses 3 and 4, "Return to me so I can return to you."
Malachi chapter 3, verse 7, "Return to me so I can return to you."
I want to come back to you, but you keep dying on me by refusal to address the sin. Having the sin is one thing, not addressing it is another.
In James chapter 4, the people were concerned that their prayers were not being answered. They were praying and nothing was happening. He says, "You have not because you ask not," in verse 2.
Verse 3 says, "You ask, but you still don't receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your own pleasures. You adulteresses, don't you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
God has enemies in his own camp, 'cause he's writing to Christians. "Or do you not think that the Scripture says to no purpose: 'He jealously desires the Spirit which he has made to dwell in you'?"
Why is this a big deal to God? 'Cause he's a jealous person. He saved you for himself. "But he gives greater grace." Uh oh, he's giving you divine favor. "Therefore it says, 'God is opposed to the proud," you can do it without him, "but gives grace to the humble.'"
So, what should you do? "Submit yourself therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Don't misread that. He didn't tell you resist the devil. He said submit to God.
A lot of people say, "Oh, I can't get rid of this devil," and you won't because he's got space to work in. So, he first says submit to God. "Submit" means to place yourself underneath the authority of someone. Place yourself under the authority of God and then resist the devil. Why? Because once you get God on your side, you got help with the devil.
So, if the devil is bringing these consequences and you want to get the devil off of your back, you've got to first come underneath God so God can work with you in getting the devil off of you, because the devil can handle you, he can't handle God working with you. And how do you do that? Verse 8 says, "Draw near to God and he will draw near to you."
Repentance is a lifestyle of acknowledging to God our sin, with the remorse that I've hurt God, with the request that he intervenes in not only my forgiveness, but in my circumstances, and repentance opens the door for him to limit, postpone, avoid, reverse, cancel, or empower in the midst of dealing with the circumstance.
It's his prerogative, but you've opened the door for one, many, or all of the above. That's why whenever you see or almost every time you see repent connected with the word "return," he tells you what he's gonna do for you if you do it. He says you will establish now the grounds for God to deal with your consequences.