Most all of us have or have had carpet in our homes and places of work. Carpet is comfortable, helps absorb sound, keeps feet warmer, etc. but there is a major problem with it ... it holds on to dirt and dust and doesn't really want to let it go!
I recently vacuumed the carpet in our bedroom at home ... really thought I did a good job, took my time, thoroughly and meticulously covered every area. Actually it looked pretty good and I was rather pleased with myself at having done such a good job. Surely Anita would be happy with me and think of me as a great husband! After I emptied out the vacuum canister full of dirt, dust, hair, trash, etc. I thought I'd do one last run over the area where I had been walking, just to give it that fresh, clean look. All of a sudden I noticed all sorts of dirt, dust, hair, trash, etc. again being pulled out of the carpet. I went over the whole room again and was shocked at how much stuff came out of the carpet even after a thorough first cleaning; and we have a really good vacuum. This is sort of discouraging isn't it? No matter how hard you try and how good you think was your first effort, it wasn't good enough ... there was still dirt pushed deep down in that carpet.
I recently repented of some sin ... really thought I did a good job, took my time, thoroughly and meticulously went over various areas of my life. Actually I felt pretty good and was rather pleased with myself at having done such a good job. Surely God would be happy with me and think of me as a great Christian! But after I had done this I remembered something else and started to repent again. And during that process I was shocked at how much dirt was still in my heart, even after a good time of previous repentance. I was even convicted over my need to repent of my repentance which had been somewhat flawed and done with selfish, Burt-first, self-righteous motives. It can be discouraging to know that no matter how hard I try and how good I think my effort is at cleansing my heart through repentance, it's just not enough ... there is sin pushed deep down in my heart that I can't even see, that I'm not even aware of, that is hidden to me.
You can probably see what my problem is here ... if I'm depending on my repentance to give me a clean heart then I'm in serious trouble. It's not my repentance that brings cleansing, forgiveness, redemption, salvation rather it's the finished work of Jesus Christ ... the Gospel ... His life, death, resurrection. I'm forgiven not because I'm such a good repenter but because Jesus is such a good Savior; His shed blood is what atoned for my sin and washed my heart clean; His perfect righteousness is credited to me and gives me right standing before God; His resurrection is the guarantee that I am His accepted child and that not even death can separate me from His eternal love; His ascension tells me He is currently preparing a place for me to dwell with Him for eternity and He is coming again to take me there.
So why repent? Of course if I really believe the Gospel I will naturally want to confess and turn from my sin which is so highly offensive to God (it's God's kindness that leads us to repentance - Romans 2:4). But also, repentance is a way I get to taste once again of this amazing grace that God has given me through His Son, Jesus Christ. I repent because I'm stunned at how a holy God could care for, love, and adopt as His son a sinner such as me ... I know how much dirt is deep down in that carpet-like heart of mine. I cling to Romans 5:8 - "But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Because I know that's true, I'm drawn to repentance! I hope you will be, too. And if you are, don't be shocked at how much dirt and filth is discovered ... but also don't be shocked at the refreshment you'll experience as you again rest in the power of the Gospel.