‘If My people will turn…’

Published 11:36 am Wednesday, July 9, 2008

This is the fifth article in a series on 2 Chronicles 7:14. This Bible verse is about God getting our attention about our sins and their results and how we can get his attention for forgiveness and for damage repair. The verse again: “If My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.”

God says that humility and prayer and seeking his face in worship are necessary but if they are not followed by a “turning from” sin and a “turning to” God, then the worship is empty and God is unresponsive. God is talking about repentance. He is talking about humility and prayer and seeking his face that results in repentance. To repent means to change your mind and to turn around: to do an about face. God says that his people, “called by His name” must turn from their “wicked ways.”

Therefore, God is calling upon believers, upon his Church, upon me, today, to turn from every wicked way. What are our wicked ways we need to turn from? Are you willing to ask God what they are? Pray the prayer of Psalm 139:23-24 and really mean it: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”. Then the Bible also says, “Examine yourselves…test yourselves” (II Corinthians 13:5). Let’s examine ourselves for wickedness.

Let’s first use the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30. To the five-talent man the Master said, “Well done.” To the two-talent man he said the same. But to the one-talent man the Master said, “You wicked and lazy servant!” What did the one talent man do that was so bad? He simply did not do what he could have done and should have done for the Master. Is this the way you are wicked and need to turn around? “Turn from your wicked ways.”

Test yourself by the Disciple Simon Peter who had followed Jesus for three years. Jesus said to him, “Simon, the devil desires you, to take your commitment away. But, when you repent and turn around again, then strengthen the brothers.” Simon asserted that he would not need any repentance. But Jesus warned that before day break, Peter would have already denied three times that he even knew Jesus. (See Luke 22:31-34) How often has your silence or speech or actions or life style or attitude or purpose or values been a denial that you even know Jesus Christ. It is wicked to deny Jesus Christ. Simon Peter did an about face with bitter tears. So must we. “Turn from your wicked ways.”

Examine yourself by God’s people during the time of the Prophets. They attempted to worship God on the one hand and yet worship the gods (idols) of the heathen nations around them at the same time. God is a jealous God today. Our Lord Jesus Christ requires total commitment from his followers today. It is wicked not to make our God and our Savior the Lord and Master of all. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). “Turn from your wicked ways.”

See your wickedness as relating to “the world” which the Bible defines as that which is opposite to “the will of God” for you. Jesus said that His followers are to be in the world but “not of this world”. The Apostle John said, “Do not love the world: the desires of the eyes, the desires of the appetites of the flesh and the desires rooted in pride. If anyone loves the world, love for God the Father is not in him. The world passes away but they that do the will of God possess that which lasts forever” (1 John 2:15-17). Let’s name it what it is and turn from our wicked ways.

Then there is the wickedness of prayerlessness, of quenching the Holy Spirit, of failing to trust God, of anxiety, of knowing to do good and not doing it, of failing to keep The Great Commandment and doing little about The Great Commission. We also would do well to review The Ten Commandments in the light of The Sermon on the Mount while praying “Lord, point out every wicked way in me.”

God says, “If My people will turn from their wicked ways, then will I…”

Note: Charles Christmas is a religious columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Saturday.