For most of my youth, our family lived in an apartment complex for which my mom served as a resident manager. One afternoon, she had set up an ironing board in the building’s laundry room. As a small boy, I entered the laundry room and saw the iron resting atop the ironing board. My mom was removing the next load of clothes from one of the dryers. She called out, “Don’t touch that iron. It’s hot.” So, what did I do? I immediately placed the entire palm of my hand on the heated surface of the iron. It took a split-second for the signal to reach my brain and realize that I was burning my hand. I cried out and my mom immediately immersed my burned palm in cold water. My mom warned me not to touch the iron. I had to do it anyway — once.

As you read about my encounter with the hot iron, maybe you recalled your own experience where your parent offered you a similar warning that you too failed to heed. If we could always learn our lessons from those who came before us; oftentimes, we need to experience something firsthand to learn and apply in our own circumstances. I have never intentionally touched another hot surface since.

So it goes in our faith walk. As we begin our journey, we often receive counseling and encouragement from others who are walking their own path. They have experienced a hot surface themselves and they try to caution us. In my own pride, I might reject their admonishment. Who are you to tell me? Each of us is saved by grace. God’s Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) reads: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Salvation is a gift. There is nothing any of us can do to earn it. None of us will ever be good enough to deserve it. But, when we accept that gift, when we receive a forgiveness of our sins, something is required of us. We must become a penitent people. We cannot go on living our lives in the same way as we did before we accepted that gift. We must choose differently. This is not easy. It is not comfortable. And, we will have a battle as we grow in our faith.

What does it mean to be a penitent person? We must be remorseful for our behaviors which are sinful. But, it cannot only be about “feeling bad” for our sins. No. We must choose to turn from these choices and turn back to our Savior.

When we become His child; when we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are also filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will convict us when we are about to do wrong. Think about choices you have made since becoming a Christian. If we are honest with ourselves, don’t we experience a conviction on our spirit when we are about to make a bad choice? That conviction is there to guide us to the right choice and show us the way.

Repenting of our sins is turning away from behaviors and choices that we know lead to death. We seek God’s forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus. But, we also must turn away from the actions that separate us from His love, grace, and mercy. Psalm 51 is comprised of 19 verses. It is a good chapter to read, study, meditate and apply to your life. It teaches about the condition of our spirit. It can serve to draw you back to a new beginning. If we submit, it can turn us back to that place of acceptance of Jesus as Lord over our lives.

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