Wow! Does this meme hit you, or what?! I think we can all think of people in our lives that apologize but don’t change. In fact, it probably happens so frequently that we don’t even believe their apologies anymore. Even more to the point, we often think of those people as manipulators because of their lack of change. They are just trying to avoid a reprimand/punishment/consequences, or they are trying to get something out of us.
Let’s take a minute and turn that phrase toward ourselves. How often are we that way with God? Do we ask for forgiveness and go back to the same behaviors? Do we tell God “If you do _______, then I will do _______?”
We often think about people who manipulate God as those that are twisting scripture to fit their needs. However, we can be manipulators without even realizing it. I want to take a minute to say that we cannot actually manipulate God. However, that does not keep us from trying.
Many of us are thinking, “I don’t try to manipulate God.” Maybe that is true. Maybe you are and don’t realize it. Let’s take a minute to examine ourselves.
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret,
whereas worldly grief produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10
Repenting is about change. Strong defines repent as “to change one’s mind.” It is a choice made by an individual to stop doing one action and start doing a new action. This involves a declaration of one’s sin, followed by a choice to change. Over and over again, in the Bible, Jesus is telling people to repent. He tells this to non-believers, so that they will come to him. He also tells this to believers who are falling away.
Our first act of repentance is when we accept Jesus’ invitation to follow him. We confess our sins to him, ask for forgiveness, and then decide to live a life according to his will, not ours.
However, it is easy to get caught up in life and to take his offer for granted. Has God given you direction or correction, and you’ve put it off to do later? Do you decide to do _____________, knowing that God wouldn’t like it? Maybe you think you can just ask forgiveness for it later? Have you ever asked or forgiveness, knowing you were going to continue in the sin? Maybe you bargain with God, telling him that if he does something for you, you will do something for him. All of these types of behaviors, and more, are not true repentance. They are apologies meant to manipulate God into doing what we want.
However, God will not be manipulated. He states very clearly throughout the Bible that only true repentance leads to forgiveness. He also tells us that many will think they are Godly, when they aren’t. The true mark of a believer, is humbleness and repentance before God.
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
1 Chronicles 7:14
Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
When our behavior lines up with our words, we say we are sorry and ask forgiveness, then follow up by changing that particular behavior; God will hear us and forgive our sin. Take note of the verse in Revelation and in Matthew. They are warnings. Both passages refer to people who seem Godly, and who seem to be doing the works of the Lord, but aren’t. Their inward nature is not reflecting true change and repentance. At the church of Sardis, their faith is about to die. Society sees them as Godly but they are not. Their works are found wanting. In Matthew Jesus is warning about false teachers and prophets. These are people who seem to be Christians, but what they are teaching is against what the Bible says. Often, it is hard to even see these people as false teachers because of how deceitful they are. In both cases, the people have not had any change. It is just a manipulation.
Jesus is about transformation. He knows that we are not going to become perfect and he does not expect it. However, he wants people who are willing to be changed. Are you willing to be changed? When the Holy Spirit corrects or directs you, are you willing to follow? Or are you putting up road blocks, procrastinating, or making excuses? Take a moment and repent of those behaviors. Change to being proactive in walking out your faith. Satan will try and derail you, but you have power in Jesus! Seek his help and move forward in transformation, he will reward all efforts to follow him!
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- Are you holding on to any sin? Is there something you’ve been told to do that you are procrastinating?
- Is there anything you are bargaining with God over? Release it to him.
- Are you guilty of trying to manipulate God? If so, pray now and ask forgiveness.
- Make a list of things that the Holy Spirit has convicted you of in regards to this topic. Pray over each one specifically. Ask God to help you follow him fully and completely. Then pray for protection from Satan and strength to resist him.
Meme pictures derived from social media and shared under Fair Use Copyright Law
Sign Up to receive these devotionals in your inbox every Monday!