#252, THE SUBJECTS OF SAVING FAITH, #23
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. ACT 3:19.
The central theme in this chapter is based on the resurrection of Christ. See how the impotent man was made strong in the name of Jesus Christ. The testimony of the Apostle Peter goes to the multitude about the Holy One. ACT 3:14-15 says, "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses." The power of the resurrection of Christ is the hope of our glory. It is the power of His resurrection, which raises us above the things of this world unto a newness of life.
Our text says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted." Repentance is a gift of God; conversion is a gift of God. However, that doesn't put the responsibility on God. It is a command; "Repent ye therefore, and be converted." There is a difference between repentance, being renewed in the spirit of the mind, and being converted. Repenting is a sorrow over sin; it is a turning from sin, but being converted is a turning from stubbornness and rebellion. It means practicing love. One who is converted has a different character and has become a different person who recognizes his rebellion and stubbornness; hatred dwelling in the heart and the practice of sin are swept away.
As we proceeded through our studies on Saving Faith, we have dwelt upon the distinction between "Faith or Saving Faith," "Coming to Christ By Faith," and "The Assurance of Faith." Now we need to study the character of those persons to whom the privilege of Christian assurance of faith rightly belongs. When we speak of being converted, we are talking about a change of character. Christian assurance must be accompanied by the change of character.
At the funeral of a man who was a pilot many descriptions of his life were given, ending with the statement that the man was a character. Instead of telling of a character change, the stunts and exploits were related. There was no mention of change of character or conversion. The man had had a change, but the folly of the sermon lay in dwelling upon the old character. When we become converted, we don't want the sins of our youth to be remembered. The new character desires to do that which is honoring to the Lord; we want to see the character change on the subject of saving faith in the converted person.
On the one hand there are those who teach that all you have to do is raise your hand to say you have made a decision for Christ, and you are eternally secure. All you have to do is believe! On the other hand, there are those who never dare to believe they are secure. We must respond to these ideas. The assurance of anything is no greater than the evidence upon which it is based. If I assure you that you have a good title to a piece of land, you should seek evidence before accepting the assurance. What is the evidence? The abstract showing the history of that title must show that the title is good. If the evidence is not there, the deed (signed, sealed, notarized, and put on the public record) is worth no more than the paper it is written on if the evidence is not good. On the other hand I can have title to a piece of land based on the evidence and be secure in my deed.
The point is applicable to the subjects of saving faith. The evidence upon which we base our assurance determines the quality of our assurance. Some people are fearful that quality evidence is unattainable because we have indwelling sin in our corrupt nature. Yes, we do have indwelling sin that is where spiritual warfare originates. The fact that we still have to conquer indwelling sin even to our last breath doesn't mean that we cannot have assurance of our salvation. The subjects of assurance must be determined by the evidence that we find in Scripture. It is not a matter of what one believes or what experiences a person has had. We need only the evidences set forth in Scripture that give unquestionable assurance. We will find that the evidences are character traits, which are the fruits of conversion.
To settle the question between presumption and the evidences of true saving faith, or unbelief, we need to ask if there are vital signs whereby we can determine whether or not the health of the body is sound. We look up the similarities, which Scripture teaches us about our spiritual condition by comparing them to our body. The Lord Jesus Christ is referred to as the Balm of Gilead, the healing medicine for wounds of the body. He is referred to as the Heavenly Physician, the healer of body and soul. In other words, we are looking at our physical health as a symbol of our spiritual health. A prudent man will occasionally have a good physical examination. I do not believe it is wrong to examine my credentials for eternity; it is not unbelief. It is sound, prudent Christianity. We must constantly examine our evidences because a bad evidence can be changed while we still have time to do so.
In a physical exam the vital signs will give us assurance that our health is sound. If you wanted a thorough physical examination because you feared that there could be some fatal disease taking root in your body, would you be content with a physician who tried to assure you your health was good without the least examination of your vital signs? Would talk without checking your vital signs be adequate to assure you of your good health? What about the symptoms that caused enough fear to send you to the doctor? They must be investigated.
In a spiritual sense, if you have symptoms of indwelling sin that keeps boiling up (self, pride, or lust are examples) you will want to come to the Heavenly Physician to get a good, thorough examination. Are your vital signs good? Do you have a disease taking root that needs attention?
Would not your heart be the first suspect to indicate a problem? Would you not expect the physician to check your blood pressure, your pulse, a sample of your blood, listen to your heart or even take a heart cardiogram to determine that the heart is right. If these are in good order, would you not have some assurance that your health is sound? Each of those tests reveals many things, and would you not expect these things to be checked to find signs of any developing problem?
Would you not expect tests to be done on your life's blood, which the heart pumps throughout the entire body to check for impurities as an early sign of a physical condition such as cholesterol, high blood sugar, or even prostrate cancer which could prove fatal if left unattended? Finding any one of many conditions gives us a flashing warning light. If the condition is corrected in its early stages, it may have done no actual harm. The blood sample gives us the clues and information that may save our life; those elements must certainly be checked very cautiously or you have not had a real physical exam.
As we come to the Great Physician, Who is the Healer of body and soul, Who's "...name is called The Word of God" in REV 19:13, we are told very plainly what our condition is by nature of the fall. We come to the Word of God, by which we will be judged on the Day of Judgment, for a physical to examine our spiritual health. One of the first tests is found in ROM 5:12. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Here we have a clear sign of an unattended disease that will become fatal. We have the venom of sin in our blood, pumped by our heart throughout our body.
When man was struck by the serpent in the Garden of Eden, the venom of sin entered the heart---the sting of death has circulated throughout the entire soul, defiling every vital organ. Our affections have been defiled. Our attitudes toward our God and our brother have been affected. This even includes our conversations, all of which will bring eternal death if left unattended. Our vital organs are infected with the venom struck into our veins in the Garden of Eden. As we come to the Great Physician, we learn that it is our heart that distributes this poison throughout the entire system. Therefore, isn't it the heart that needs our attention first? Remember, the symptoms lead to fatal results if left unattended; they will bring eternal death.
Our text says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord," ACT 3:19. Let's look at the context in which we find this verse. The apostle has just pointed out to these people that they have crucified the Lord of Life and Glory. By the resurrection of Christ, this lame man was raised out of the pit he was in and made whole. We need the resurrection of Christ.
Now we may talk about the prescription we need to cure the fatal signs seen in our system. What is the cure? "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." Notice the word that. It is more than a connecting word; it is so important. We must change our lifestyle. Our sins may not be blotted out until there is repentance and conversion. First we must become new creatures. We cannot have sins blotted out while continuing to love and live in them as we did, no more than we could cure a diabetic problem and continue old eating habits. Change is a requirement. Before our sins can be blotted out, we must change, repent and be converted. Our lifestyle must change in order to change our health. The things causing signs of illness must be properly medicated and the behavior, which caused them, changed. We cannot continue to feed the ailment whether it be high blood pressure or lust, anger, or other sin and expect those sins to be blotted out. Change and becoming a different, new person is a requirement not an option.
As we examine our credentials of saving faith we must examine what our evidence is that indicates this loathsome disease of sin has been healed. Can I say that the Lord Jesus Christ has cleansed me from all sin if I continue to wallow in sin? No! There is no such thing; the disease must be healed--eliminated.
TIT 2:13-14 says, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Did Jesus come to redeem us from the consequences of sin? No! He "...gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." As we come to the Word of God, to the Heavenly Physician, we begin our spiritual examination to see if we have been redeemed from our iniquity. Do we still love sin? Do we cherish a particular sin? Do we loath and hate all sin? If we have been converted, we will have a new character and be a new man, a different person who turns from sin. Do we show remorse for our sins? If so, the world will say we are a peculiar people who don't enjoy the worldly pursuits of sin. Imagine a people who don't enjoy this or that which attracts so many other people, who instead heap coals of love upon the heads of those who come against them. The world can't figure them out. They are "... a peculiar people, zealous of good works." That is evidence of a new character, which is not revengeful, spiteful, or filled with bitterness.
As we come to the Heavenly Physician, i.e., "The Word of God," to have our vital signs examined, let's notice that our walk of life is one of the first evidences of whether our hearts have been cleansed of the leprosy of sin. The evidences of our assurances are clearly penned in the Holy Writ. PHI 3:16-18 says, "Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ." Mark those whose walk of life, their fruits, give evidence of having faith, saving faith, and being redeemed from all iniquity. Our Shepherd sets the example. Why does Jesus call some people enemies of the cross of Christ? Their walk of life shows that they have never had the spiritual circumcision of the flesh. We need spiritual circumcision of the flesh, i.e., the walk of life, as well as of the heart. We must have not only remorse over sin, but our walk must show we have been redeemed from all iniquity.
We need to notice how vitally important a role our heart plays in the health of our soul! Our conversation reveals what is in our hearts. As with our physical body, so with our spiritual body the heart is the most important organ; it reveals what is in the body because it circulates the blood all through the system. Every organ of our body receives its nourishment from the heart.
Consider PHI 3:19-20, which continues on from the verses above about those who are enemies of the cross of Christ. "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) [Do you see where their heart is?] For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." The message clearly tells us that where their heart is their conversation is. Their conversation was on earthly things with their belly as their god. Their heart is in the wrong place.
As we begin to understand the meaning of "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..." then we must examine our conversation very closely. Where is our conversation?
Let's look at 1TI 4:11-12. Notice that "these things" are not optional, nor are they something that some people have and others don't. "These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." We are to be an example. Is our word good or do we say one thing and do another? Are we honest? Do we have charity, looking at each person in the best possible light? Where is our heart? What are our pleasures? What are our desires? What is our lifestyle?
PHI 1:27 says, "Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." As we examine our hearts, these are the things we must watch for while remembering that the Physician is the Word of God.
As we examine the vital signs of our souls we must inquire where our affections are. Vile affections is a very grievous disease that can circulate throughout our system. Where does this disease come from? It comes from the heart, and the heart circulates it throughout the system. It becomes apparent to the whole world where our affections lie.
A man once said, "One thing I have to admit is that you truly love the Lord." I replied, "What made you say that?" He answered, "Because I watch what you do, and you are always doing something that brings out the Word of God, doing something to get the gospel out, or doing something for the honor of the Lord."
Where is our affection? How do you spend leisure time? These are vital signs of where your affections are. They tell others what is in your heart. As we examine these vital signs, know that vile affections are a very grievous disease that circulates via the heart throughout our system. That which is most dear to you is where you will be found when you have spare time. Will you be found in front of the TV watching violence, chasing a ball on the field, or some other pursuit? Where do you spend your spare time? Where are your affections? Where your heart is, your conversation is also. COL 3:1-2 says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."
We can have our affections so tied to things of this earth that all godliness within our souls has been devoured. When our affections are set on things above, the presence of the Lord is our chief delight. Let's take notice again of our text. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." ACT 3:19. Where are we waiting for our chiefest delight? Is it for refreshing times, which come from the presence of the Lord?
As we examine the vital signs of our souls we must inquire who are those people who know the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord? Do we fit in that category? Do we understand those times of refreshing from the Lord? See an answer in ISA 57:15, "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Do we have the humble and contrite heart where the Lord loves to dwell? If we do, we should be able to tell the times when the Lord comes with His refreshing and His visits of love. Can we speak of the times of refreshing from the Lord to revive those humble and contrite spirits? We must examine ourselves. Do we know those times? If we can identify times when we have had refreshment from the Lord, we can identify a humble heart and a contrite spirit.
As we examine the vital signs of our souls, we must examine our hearts as to how we evaluate the Word of God. How do we place value on God's Word. ISA 66:2b says, "...but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." It is people who hold God's Word in holy reverence and awe. That does not mean to tremble in slavish fear. It makes our hearts tremble to think that we would do something to displease the Lord. The holy Word of God is His revealed will, and in it we have such a delight in doing that which pleases the Lord because we love Him in His appearing. We love those times of refreshing to revive our humble and contrite hearts. We tremble to think that we would offend Him and cause Him to withdraw.
The blessed fruits of a holy reverence for God's Word are beautifully recorded in PSA 119, but especially in verses 97-104. "O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day. [That is a holy, godly fear or reverence for God's will, not legalism.] Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. [Meditation keeps His commandments near.] I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way."
2PE 1:8 tells us that if we do "these things" we will never be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. These are the things we read about in the above verses from the Psalms. Do you see the heart of a man after God's own heart? See how he trembles at the Word and has such a love and reverence in God's will. It is a delight. God's commandments are not grievous to such a person. If we want evidence of a very strong spiritual heart, they are found in those verses.
As we lay claim to assurance of faith we must ask ourselves, who does receive forgiveness? Who does the Lord forgive? Our text explains and answers that question beautifully. Those who can truly claim their souls are forgiven are those who repent. They are converted; their characters have been changed. Yes, conversion is the work of grace. Certainly repentance is a gift of God. However, there is one more consideration needed. God works in us to will and to do, cf., PHI 2:13. It is the individual person who must repent and change their attitude and character--by the grace of God. Don't wait with a fatalistic attitude for God to do it. You do it, by His grace.
ACT 3:19 says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." We must carefully, very carefully analyze and check our lives. We must clean up our own act. It might be very helpful to begin with a checklist of our habits. Even our way of eating is a habit. Even a glutton can become a wise eater by knowing what is good for one's health and putting only those things on the plate. I have proved to myself that it is possible to block out of one's mind those things, which are craved but unhealthy.
When we feed upon the husks the swine leave, spiritually, we must literally sit down and identify those husks in our life that must be cleaned up. Emphasis is placed on the need to change the negative attitudes and actions. Then prayerfully strive in that direction, push away from those things in your life that have been identified as the husks even swine wouldn't eat. Every habit can be broken by the grace of God. However, it is a deliberate act of the individual to do so. If you have a habit that irritates others, you literally stop doing it. You must analyze it, make up your mind to stop doing it, and pray for the Lord to give you the grace to do it. Then by conscious effort you push yourself away from feeding upon that filthy husk. I want you to see that the words of our text are a command. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted" is a command. You may not sit and wait on a barstool for the Lord to convert you. You must repent of your sinful habits and begin to change your lifestyle.
We must turn our backs upon the world and sinful practices. Take notice as we read the next two verses how HEB 10:16 precedes Verse 17. It is important to note the order the Lord uses here. HEB 10:16-17 says, "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; (Verse 17) And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Do you see the order and the importance of it? After the law of God has been written in our hearts with the finger of God upon the fleshly tables of our hearts, it becomes our new desire and new affection. It becomes our new appetite; now we can feed upon the heavenly manna. Then our sins are forgotten. The Lord does not forget our iniquities, putting them behind His back, while we are living in them. It is not a matter of waiting for some miracle to happen making us a different person. The command is to repent first, then be converted.
It is those who not only hear, but those who do the sayings of the Lord Jesus who are building upon the Rock. Now let's read 1JO 2:28- 29. "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. [It is a command to abide in Him] If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him." Sometimes we read these messages too fast. It is not usually profitable to read whole chapters at a time. It is more profitable to meditate on the individual verses. We need to study and digest each part; we should apply the message to ourselves. If we know that He is righteous, then we also know that everyone who does righteousness is born of Him. We must not lose the logic of the message.
So who are they who do righteousness? It is none other but those who love their brother. The law of love cannot be separated from the gospel. Upon the law of love hang all the law and the gospel. Now how do we identify those who do righteousness?
1JO 3:15-19 says, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us [How do we know of Gods love for us? See God's illustration; we are to follow His example]: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." Love is not just an emotion; love is a practice. It must include the actual act of giving to and helping those in need. The deeds of love are the evidence of love. Do you see the assurance of faith that comes from our actions? If we love the brethren, we know we are of the truth. Does that mean we just make a lot of noise about our actions? No. It is how we act toward others. It is what we do to them. It is what we do to protect their name by looking at them in the best possible light, and it is how we respond to the things they do to us. That is the way we demonstrate our love for others.
As we examine our credentials for assurance of faith, our heart is our most vital organ. 1JO 3:20-24 says, "For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. [See how great a role our heart plays in our assurance of salvation] Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us."
If we keep His commandment of love, we may ask and receive. This is the source of success in prayer. The epistle of First John is a blessed message if you want to know where to find assurance of faith. It is one of the most blessed studies you can do; meditate upon this book. Look at the end of the epistle. At the end of the epistle John explains, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God," 1JO5:13.
When the Lord has given us the Spirit of Christ, a spirit of self-sacrifice and self-denial, and spirit of love, we know we are His. How do we know? It is not the spirit of the world.
First come before our Heavenly Physician, whose name is called "The Word Of God," for a spiritual heart cardiogram. We will find that if we have never received a new heart it will read like MAT 15:19. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." Oh, that is an ugly cardiogram. But if we have had a new heart transplant, then our cardiogram will read like GAL 5:22. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
Jesus says that a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit, neither can an unrenewed heart hold a heavenly conversation. Have you ever tried to hold a heavenly conversation with a person who has not been regenerated? It is difficult; either you will do all the talking or you will be asked to refrain from continuing.
I recently visited an old man in the hospital. Within the first seconds of our conversation he was taking the name of Jesus Christ upon his lips in a blasphemous manner. I said, "I hear you speaking about Jesus Christ. Do you know Him."
Immediately he blushed, thought a while, and replied, "No."
"Maybe we should talk about it." I proceeded to explain that the Lord Jesus Christ came to take away the penalty of sin, to make a way that the chiefest of sinners could become reconciled with God. I explained how essential it is to be reconciled to God.
He answered, "My heart is so filled with bitterness and hatred; I don't believe I could ever be reconciled with God."
I had an opportunity to testify to that person. That was the very reason Jesus came: to redeem us from all iniquity. I told him that instead of blaspheming His name he should spend his time pleading with Him for redemption. At 83 years of age there wasnt much time left.
I said earlier that you can't hold a heavenly conversation with an unbeliever, but that doesn't mean you can't witness to them. When I left this person, he seemed edified and appreciative of my words. I was not critical of his actions. In a loving spirit I asked him if he knew the Lord. I am not discouraging witnessing to blasphemers, but if you try to speak with a person who is unrenewed about heavenly things, you will soon find yourself shut out. Where your conversation is reveals where your heart is. If your heart is not in a heavenly place, you have little desire to converse about such matters. When I began speaking to this man about the love of God, I noticed a melting spirit. He thanked me for what I told him. May God bless that man. No, I do not discourage you from speaking to a blasphemer about heavenly things, but in ordinary conversation those who have no desire or pleasure in heavenly things will close the subject one way or another.
In MAT 12:33-37 Jesus says, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. [The person who is not renewed does not have the ability to bring forth good fruit.] O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. [You cannot harvest grapes from a patch of briars and thorns.] A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Do you see how important our conversations are?
Our text says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord," i.e., we must clean up our act; we must clean up our conversation! PSA 50:16-22 says, "But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
Those who have charity will look at their brother in the best possible light; they will speak to edify their brother. They will not slander their brother. PSA 50:23 says, "Whoso offereth praise [those who speak of their brother from a heart of charity] glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God." Do you see that speaking well of others we glorify God?
The spiritual birth of the soul can only be known from the effect it has wrought upon the heart. If you have a question about the evidence of your salvation, the assurance of faith, you must examine your heart. JOH 3:8 says, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." When the Holy Spirit works the wonder of grace in the heart, it is not always done in such a way that there is lightning and thunderbolts. Sometimes a person just realizes they have a different attitude. Then they see the new desires. The things they used to love they now hate even though they know not how it happened. Now there are new desires; there is a desire to do the will of God and show love to others. Shortcomings may abound, but the desire is there. It means the Holy Spirit has blown upon his heart.
True love for God is not measured by a dread for hell, neither does it come from a hope for heaven. So many people believe a person must first shudder before the gates of hell before God will save them. Love for God is not measured by a dread of hell. If I do not reverence God and His holy will, I do not love Him at all. That is how we know if we love God. We must reverence Him and His holy will. We may not have ever had a fear of hell or we may have feared hell all of our lives. It has nothing to do with whether or not we love God. The determining factor is whether or not one fears God--reverencing God and His holy will.
1JO 5:2-3 says, "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." I like First John; there are no ifs or maybes. "By this we know" is a concrete statement. If you love God, you love to do His will. His will is not grievous; His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It is a delight to do His will. That is the evidence of your assurance.
We cannot find perfection in ourselves because we still have indwelling sin, but we must examine our hearts to see if the root of the matter is in us. Where is our affection? Do we love to do the will of God? Is it our desire? Do we mourn when we find ourselves sinning? Are His commandments grievous or is grievous when we offend God? Our text says, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Amen.
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