Refusing to Repent

Journal Entry // December 26, 2022

They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. (ESV)

Revelation 16:9

In my reading through Revelation, I have now reached a point where the bowls of God’s wrath are being poured out in judgment upon the earth. It is a frightful and terrible thing to read through these seven bowls of wrath and consider the full weight of God’s holy and righteous judgment upon this world. The different sections of this destruction are increasing in the amount of destruction they bring. First, there were the seals, then there were the trumpets, and now there are the bowls. Whereas the seals and the trumpets were limited in the scope of how they inflicted the people, a quarter and a third respectively, these bowls will reveal the wrath of God being poured out upon all things. And the people who are being afflicted with these bowls of God’s wrath are responding in their full depraved nature. When the full wrath of God is revealed upon the earth, there is an expectation and a hope that the hearts and minds of the people bearing witness through the infliction of these plagues will turn from their evil ways. There is an expectation that God’s righteous wrath will cause the people to repent and bring glory to God alone. What we see instead is that the people double down on their hatred of God and they curse his name.

I read this and my first reaction is disbelief. I want to believe that when the magnitude of God’s power and authority is revealed through his wrath and judgment upon this earth, everyone everywhere will turn in repentance and faith to Christ. This is my first reaction because I want this to be true in my own heart. I know that there is still stubborn sin clinging to me. Sin that is disobedient and curses the name of God. A remnant of sin that I allow to persist in my heart and mind either through ignorance or self-deception. I want to believe that I too will turn in repentance from my revealed sin. That I will see my disobedience and be convicted of my error. Yet, I often respond to this revelation by cursing God in a sense. No, I don’t actually think those words or verbalize them out loud. I am more clever than that.

My cleverness is to put on a mask of holiness. A mask that is designed to cover my unrepentant heart. A mask that shows to those looking in my direction how much I have changed. A mask that I prepare and repair each and every day. I focus so much on this mask, my holy illusion, that I eventually come to believe that the mask is true. That the mask that tries to prove my repentance is in fact proving my repentance, even when that is far from the truth.  I believe the lie of the mask and forget the truth of my heart. My heart that remains undealt with is screaming curses at God for his righteous judgment in my life. My heart is angry at God for the consequences of my sin and harbors resentment and anger against the holy One.

The solution is to remove the mask of illusion and lies. I must stop covering over and excusing my sin. I must come maskless and naked before the Lord in humbleness and repentance. I must come acknowledging the full extent of my disobedience. I must not cover over and excuse even the most minimal of sins that still linger. I must face the ugliness and shame of sin. I must bring myself, my whole self, before Jesus in repentance and faith. He is the Lord my Healer. He is the Lord my Savior. He alone is worthy of glory. And what brings glory to the name of Christ? My humble repentance. My turning away from sin, disobedience, and self-reliance. Giving glory to Christ in a life of worship to Jesus alone. Understanding that I cannot ever clean myself up and that I must come in my rags and filth. Jesus will clean me and clothe me in the pure white robes of his perfect righteousness.

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