“We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:13-18).
David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). He realised that, because of his sin, he needed to make a fresh start in following and obeying the Lord. Renewal does not mean starting again at the very beginning, but stepping back on the pathway of holiness at the place we left it. Maybe we wish we could go back and undo all the mistakes we have made and put right all the wrongs we have caused. The Bible never speaks of a time machine to go back; instead it calls for repentance and faith to go forward. Psychology deceives people into believing that they can offload all their problems, failures and hang-ups on what others did to them in the past, but blaming someone else for our sins is never the solution. Adam and Eve tried that one, even to the point of blaming their disobedience on God and the devil (Genesis 3), but they still had to suffer the consequences for what they did. A fresh start never comes from blaming others.
The Bible calls for a completely different approach to dealing with sin in our lives. It acknowledges that we are all born “under sin” (Galatians 3:22), yet that sinful nature is not a free pass from our responsibilities. To continue to live as a sinner confirms the fact that we are still “sold under sin” (Romans 7:14). While we fail to deal with the root of the problem, we will find ourselves becoming more and more enslaved to sin. The penalty is exactly the same as it has always been: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). There is only one remedy and that is, as David realised, to confess our sin and find deliverance in God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
This renewal is not a one time experience, because we often find ourselves weakened through temptation, we have to come daily to the One who promises to forgive and set our feet back on the way of life. It is by faith that we can see passed our sin, failures, and burdens and put our confidence in the Saviour. Instead of hiding behind faulty theology, psychological babble or rejection of personal accountability, we accept the blame and ask for forgiveness. This is where renewal begins. Trying to find freedom from guilt and condemnation any other way is a sure sign that Christ is not our true Lord. He is glorified when we confess our sins and turn to Him in faith.
Some have tried to substitute positive thinking for repentance, but in doing so they have rejected their need for the Redeemer. Having a feeling of self-worth will not cause the sin problem to go away or restore our relationship with God. If this is all that is needed then Israel only had to claim the promises that God made to Abraham without any requirement for a Redeemer or repentance. Or maybe, as is the case with religious people today, they only needed to do good works to gain acceptance with God. No amount of righteous acts can redeem a person from sin. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). It is impossible to draw close to the holy, perfect and righteous Lord without Christ’s intervention. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). He alone can take away our sin. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). He alone can remove all condemnation. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). He alone can release us from the burden of sin. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).
There are going to be times when we think that our sins are too big or numerous for God to deal with, so maybe every once in a while we should read Hebrews 11. There is not one person listed there who was sinless, perfect or super-spiritual. These great saints were sinners! What set them apart from others in their day was their faith in God coupled with the realisation that they were nothing without Him. They simply put their trust in the One who was their Redeemer. It is these warriors of faith that we are encouraged to emulate as we serve the same Lord in our day, yet even that is not enough, for we have to keep our focus upon the Saviour Himself. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
We may become faint-hearted at times because of failing to honour the Lord as we ought; yet it is then we have to trust in Him all the more. Maybe the cloud of His displeasure hides His face from us, but it is the chastisement of a loving Father who is bringing us back to righteousness. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Hebrews 12:6). The desire for renewal reveals that we truly trust in Christ. All who come to Him with faith in the hearts are never rejected. “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). Those who desire a fresh start will be rewarded. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).