Sunday, June 8, 2008 -
The Holy Spirit's Role in Establishing a Repentant Heart
Ezekiel 11:19-20 - “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,  that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
Ezekiel 36:26-27 - “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
1) WITHOUT THE APPLICATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, RELIGIOUS EXERCISES CAN ACTUALLY LEAVE PEOPLE LESS INCLINED TO SPIRITUAL RENEWAL
Luke 18:9-14 - “He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:  "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.'  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!'  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."
Behold the effect of efficiently practiced religion without the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Religion without the Spirit only damns us deeper in pride.
2) WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS TRULY AT WORK, THE FIRST SIN HE EXPOSES IS ALWAYS MY OWN - Psalm 51:10-11 - “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” David, even in this Old Testament era, immediately links the cleansing of sin and the brokenness of his heart with the presence of the Holy Spirit.
3) CORPORATE INDIFFERENCE TO SPIRITUAL DECLINE IS THE SILENT JUDGMENT OF GOD ON RELIGIOUS PEOPLE WHO DON’T TREASURE THE TRUTH ENOUGH TO EMBRACE IT WHEN THEIR HEARTS ARE SOFT
Romans 1:18-19 - “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.”
Romans 1:28-32 - “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.  They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,  slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,  foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.  Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
The inner work of the Spirit in repentance, while powerful, is resistible.
4) IF PEOPLE DO CATCH THEMSELVES IN THIS KIND OF SPIRITUAL DOWNSLIDE THERE IS A RESPONSE THAT LOOKS LIKE REPENTANCE, BUT ISN’T
2 Corinthians 7:8-11 - “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.  For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.  For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
a) The Holy Sprit brings sorrow for turning from the will of God (9-10).
b) The Holy Spirit produces sorrow for sin that leads a person to grace in Jesus Christ (10).
c) The Holy Spirit not only reveals the standard that’s been broken, but gives the inner power to get back on track (11).
5) THE ENTRY POINT FOR A SOFT HEART IS ALWAYS PAINFUL FOR PROUD PEOPLE LIKE US
Matthew 18:3 - “....and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus isn’t calling us to childishness or immaturity in this text. The central point of childhood is universally recognized. Children are meant to learn. And the chief point of their success is learning is their correctability. This is permanently tied to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit - the inward teacher - in our walk into the shape of Christ.