Steps to spiritual healing

By MICHAEL J. BROOKS | Guest Columnist

Note: This is an opinion column.

With some unexpected “down time” this week I viewed a series for the second time about the fall of a major American news personality. This entrepreneur produced a classic TV show, trained politicians in media, founded two news networks and then fell into disgrace when it was discovered he’d treated more than 20 women employees shabbily, harassing and degrading them.

It reminded me that the present contagion will be over soon, we trust, but the contagion of willful rebellion against God remains. And we’re all infected. The Bible declares all have sinned and fallen short of God’s plan (Romans 3:23).

Scripture gives a number of exhortations for spiritual healing.

First, we repent. Both the Old and New Testaments use this word frequently. The word means “turn,” or some have suggested a military definition: “about face.” Repentance means a wholesale turning from trusting in ourselves and a thorough dependence on God. Sometimes it means remorse for our bad choices, but repentance is more than remorse; it must foster change in conduct.

Second, we receive forgiveness from God. The Bible assures us that when we meet his condition he will respond with mercy. No one who sincerely turns from sin has found rejection from God. He’s the loving father of Luke 15 who runs to meet the prodigal when he comes home, dresses him in the clothes of restoration and rejoices with feasting.

Third, we make restitution if possible. Restitution often underscores the genuineness of repentance since it proves a true change of heart.

Restitution is the Zacchaeus model as told in Luke 19. Zacchaeus was a tax collector known for his selfishness and treachery. But Jesus showed kindness to him in Jericho and the tax collector made a startling declaration.

“I’ll give half my goods to the poor, and if I’ve taken anything unjustly from anyone, I’ll restore four times what I took,” he said.

Zacchaeus’s love for Christ became more important than love for money.

Fourth, we forgive ourselves. Sometimes we cringe when thinking of the heinous nature of our sin. Our spiritual enemy makes us doubt we’re truly forgiven. But doubting forgiveness is doubting God’s word which we mustn’t do. His forgiveness is sure though the forgiveness of others may not be.

I talked with a friend recently who used an interesting phrase in telling me of his journey back to faith.

“I’ve found that some people choose not to make this journey with me,” he said.

This is regrettable, but true. Others may doubt our sincerity and disbelieve our repentance. But we must go forward in our journey, believe that God values us and seek to share the story of his mercy with others who need to know.

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.