Confession, contrition, and conversion

Judges 9-11
The book of Judges has a constant theme running throughout its pages. The theme is the recurring rebellion of Israel and the redemption of God. Also contrasted in this story of the judges is the weakness of men and the strength of God (Varughese, 2003, p. 150). The judges are shown to be, upon first appearances, weaklings, i.e. a woman (Deborah), a coward (Gideon), outcasts (Jephthah). The surrounding nations are seen as mighty. All of this is true except and until the Lord steps in. The theme of Israel’s rebellion and God’s redemption is marked by a statement: “and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord”and also by a question: “who will fight against our enemies (para-phrase). The statement about Israel and the question from Israel gives us great insight into the spiritual condition of God’s people. They also give us a good look into the heart of God and the depth of love that God has for His people.

After every military victory the Israelites would adopt the customs and religious practices of the fallen. They would especially adopt their idol worship. According to the authors of Discovering the Old Testament: Story and Faith, “the problem of Israel’s worship of Baal went deeper than the violation of the first commandment. God’s people compartmentalized their existence and practiced both their traditional faith and the belief systems of their Canaanite neighbors. Baal worship seemed to many Israelites to be the perfect way to make everyday life successful” (Varughese, 2003, p.150).

YES: Israel confesses to having sinned against God, but only because their sin has failed to produce the desired results. They aren’t confessing because they think that they did anything wrong, but because their sin came back to bite them in the butt. In order for there to be a change of behavior or actions, confession must be mixed with contrition. Whenever contrition accompanies confession then we get conversion. Since Israel shows no signs of brokeness for their sin they continue down the path of idol worship. (See 2 Cor. 7:10; Ps. 51:17).

This is the warning for us as well. God is not please with our lipservice, He desires a genuine brokeness of heart because of our sin. When we come to the point that we are able to acknowledge our sins against God and have a sincere remorse, as well as a desire to stop our sin, then we can begin to change our ways. Not until confession and contrition meets can there be a real conversion.

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