Eli’s Passivity vs Repentance

I didn’t discover the terms ‘calvinism’ or ‘arminianism’ until I came to university. Even now, I don’t fully understand them or the nuances behind them. (A large part of me really doesn’t want to understand them) I find it unhelpful to pit God’s sovereignty against man’s freewill. A bit like the age-old debate ‘what came first the chicken or the egg’. Nevertheless, in my ignorance, I know enough that I come down on the calvinist side of the fence. I lean towards God’s providence.

But with that stance comes a risk of becoming like Eli.

In 1 Samuel, Eli is confronted by God regarding sin issues. There is a problem going on in his parenting and in his family which God has pointed out is not right.

After God’s confrontation, Eli responds ‘He is the Lord; let Him do what is good in His eyes’ (1 Samuel 3:18).

At first glance, this seems like a very holy response. A bit like Jesus’ prayer ‘not my will but Yours be done’. However, this is not how God has instructed His people to respond to sin.

In Deuteronomy 30, after God has described the punishment He would be faithful to carry out (in Chapter 29) if His people disobeyed Him. He declares that if they would repent He would turn and save them. Likewise 2 Chronicles 7:14 states:

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 I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Whenever God reveals sin issues in your life, do not sit comfortably with it. Make every effort to turn back to Him.

Just because He is the Lord and even His punishments are good. This does not mean we should accept them. Because Jesus has offered us salvation, a means of grace and forgiveness. Therefore, repent.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

Jesus taught: “if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away”. He tells us this because his grace is so great that he can forgive the sins of the repentant. However lustful, however hateful, however rebellious and spiteful. There is hope of salvation to the one who repents.

But to the one who refuses. Who succumbs in passivity towards sin. Beware.

I don’t think we like to talk about repentance, because it seems like a world away from Grace. But this is the message of the Gospel “repent for the Kingdom of heaven is near”.

If you want the Holy Spirit at work in you ‘repent’ (Acts 2:38). If you want to be fruitful, ‘repent’ (Matthew & Luke 3:8). If you want to see miracles, ‘repent’ (Matthew 11:20). If you want to hear God’s call on your life ‘repent’ (Luke 5:32) – it is those who think they are righteous already, those who refuse to repent who do not receive the call. If you want to cause heaven’s rejoicing, ‘repent’ (Luke 15:7, 10).

The good news is repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47), because God will forgive the sins of people who repent.

To repent means simply, to turn away from sin and turn towards God. We can do this because of what Jesus has done on the Cross. And because he rose again we can have full assurance that when we do repent we will be forgiven.

If anyone reading wants to experience the Holy Spirit, I encourage them to acknowledge the sin in their life. Turn away from it and towards God. (Ask Him for help doing this!) Then believe in His promise of forgiveness. See what happens. Christians too, this is an ongoing activity for us. We are all far from perfect and we know it full well. We must continually, daily engage in repentance.

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