Jacob Crouch

Don’t Be Ashamed of Repentance

Here’s the good news: Jesus always accepts those who repent and believe the gospel. This is the Christian way. This is how we entered the Christian life (Mark 1:15), and this is how we continue in the Christian life (Gal 2:20). If you are still in your sin, hear this word: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Be wise, and don’t be ashamed to repent. 

Isn’t it strange how the things that make us seem most foolish to watching eyes are the very things we are afraid to turn away from lest others think us foolish? Sin makes us look foolish. Yet, when we are convicted because of that sin, we are hesitant to repent. The fear of man makes us ashamed of repentance. But we should never be ashamed to repent. Why then do we hesitate?
Deceit
To repent is to turn away from and change our mind about sin. I think some of the reluctance to repent comes from hiding sin that is in our lives. But that’s a misunderstanding. If you are currently hiding sin, let me tell you, you are only deceiving yourself. You’re not as good at hiding that sin as you think. Maybe folks don’t know the specifics, but they know something’s not right. And even if you’re better at hiding sin, “be sure your sin will find you out.” It will not be hidden forever. There is coming a day when, “according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom 2:16). And let’s just say that you have successfully hidden your sin from men. You’ve only succeeded in promoting a false version of yourself. Yes, you are seen as respectable, but it’s a counterfeit version of yourself. You are not actually respectable, you are just a liar.
Pride
We can also be reluctant to repent because we are embarrassed to admit that we’ve been wrong. But how silly is that?
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Point to His Faithfulness

Your faith may be small, but His faithfulness is great. Yes, your sin may be great, but His grace is greater. Our God is the faithful One, and may we continue to put our hope in Him.

“I’m just not sure I’m saved.”
He said this as he looked at me from across the coffee shop table. Now, I didn’t want to have more assurance that he did, but I had a sneaky feeling that something wasn’t right. This was a guy that had been diligent in the word, seemed to be growing like a weed, and seemed to really love Christ. So I was surprised when he said it. I said, “Well, do you believe that Christ died for your sins, and that He rose from the dead?” “Yes, I do.”
“Do you!?” I said in an embarrassingly loud voice for a coffee shop.
“Yes, I really do,” he said with more conviction. “Well let me read a verse to you. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.’ What does that verse say about ‘whoever believes’?” I could see the relief flood over his face. He was realizing what I was trying to point out: Because God is faithful, he could be secure.
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The Rock

He is the One who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). He is the One who says, “”For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Mal 3:6). He is the One who, “does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’ (Dan 4:35). Our God is the Rock!

One of the blessings of the gospel is that we get to know God (John 17:3). He has been so gracious to reveal His nature to us in His word. And He uses so many different examples to communicate things about His nature. Because of our limited understanding, God uses earthly pictures to help us see a glimpse of His awesome, holy nature. These pictures help us to see although only in the mirror dimly because, as A.W. Tozer says, we are forced to think “creature-thoughts” and use “creature-words” to describe One who is uncreated.
He is Our Rock
One of the Bible’s simplest, yet most profound metaphors for God is the rock. Now, to be clear, God is not like a rock in substance or inactivity. Remember, Paul said, “we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone” (Acts 17:29). But what does it mean when Moses says, “For I will proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock, his work is perfect” (Deut 32:3-4)? Or when the Psalmist says, “he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (Psalm 92:15)? I believe what God wants to communicate to us is that He is mighty, unchanging, immoveable, and faithful.
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On Conscience, Christian Liberty, and Preferences

Christians will disagree about preferences. Romans 14, 1 Corinthians 8, and 1 Corinthians 10 are passages that deal with this exact issue. Preferences of application cannot be sin. This would exclude it from the category of Christian liberty. If your application of the word leads to breaking of a direct command or prohibition, then it is no longer a legitimate application (See Mark 7). Each person is directed by his own conscience in the matters of preference.

I have been thinking lately on the place of conscience, Christian liberty, and how we should relate to one another with our preferences. As a young Christian, I had a very low tolerance for any Christian liberty, and the result was that I was overly prescriptive for those around me, and honestly, I was extremely proud about what I had seen in the Bible. It was not just a way, it was the way to obey God. Thankfully the Lord rerouted my ideas and helped me to value those who were doers of the word, rather than doers of my preferences. Here are a few thoughts on the subject that I wanted to share here.
Conscience
God has given to each person a conscience which helps to discern what is right and wrong (Rom 2:15). God has given a conscience to those who are saved and unsaved. The conscience is like the check engine light of the soul, alerting to the fact that something might not be right. And while the conscience is a guide, it is not infallible. There are those with a weaker or stronger conscience (1 Cor 8). Sometimes the conscience is weak and forbids something that is not actually forbidden by God. Other times it can be seared, allowing what God has forbidden (1 Tim 4:2, Titus 1:15). Even though the conscience is fallible, it is the Christian duty to walk according to our conscience, because to disobey the conscience is faithless, and therefore sin (Rom 14:23).
We must strive to have a good and clear conscience (1 Peter 3:16, Acts 23:1). We need this good and clear conscience within ourselves and before God. Having a good and clear conscience means that there is nothing in our lives for which our conscience pricks us. We have lived our lives as best we know by the direction of God in His word. No matter what anyone else says, we have walked in integrity both before man and before God.
And this is a most important point: Our conscience is subservient to the Holy Spirit through the Bible. Since our consciences are fallible, our consciences must be submitted to the Word of God. If our conscience is pricked when it shouldn’t be, we should yield to God’s word. If our conscience is not pricked when it should be, we should yield to God’s word. The conscience is never to rule over the Spirit and the Bible, but is a servant of the Spirit to guide us.
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“Be Doers of My Preference”

Somehow (I still wonder how He did it), God pulled me out of this prideful place, and made me see that I was pushing my preferences and not God’s Word. I actually didn’t change my mind about much of what I thought, I just changed the way that I spoke and thought about it. Now, when people ask my advice, I am sure to point them to the Word. Instead of immediately jumping to how I apply God’s word, I give them the Bible, and encourage them to seek the Lord about what He says. 

As a young Christian, I was always right. Its amazing how right I was about everything. I had Bible verses, and you can’t argue with the Bible. I also routinely read my Bible, and, well, let’s be honest, no one around me read their Bible. But don’t worry! Everything I did and said was verbally affirmed to be in humility. So that covered me. Like the saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. But a weird thing has happened. The older I’ve gotten, the less “right” I see myself. Actually, I’ve come to see that, while I wanted to be a doer of God’s word (James 1:22), I was actually trying to get others to be doers of my preference.
My Preference
It is scary how simple it is for the devil, not to change the Bible, but to twist it (2 Peter 3:16). This was what he tried to pull over on Jesus: He word-for-word quoted Scripture, but he twisted its meaning. He twisted it at the application. And if we are not careful, we can do something similar. When we read God’s word, there are some universal applications that are directly prescribed by God. “You shall not lie, You shall not steal, etc…” But in the vast majority of Scripture, there are commands to obey and wisdom to be applied in a variety of situations that require Christians to use discernment in their obedience. Here’s where I fell into trouble.
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It’s Just a Distraction

Be aware of the schemes of the devil and avoid being distracted from the main thing. When we go to share Christ, let’s actually share Christ! We need to tell folks about sin, and righteousness, and the coming judgement. People need to hear about their great need, and they need to hear that God in love sent His Son to die for sinners. Jesus died on the cross to save sinners and He was raised from the dead, proving that He is everything He said He was.

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3
We used to walk around college campuses to try and strike up gospel conversations after I graduated from college. Its amazing how many people were willing to talk about the state of their souls. Unfortunately, most that we met either gave lip service to the gospel or would outright deny it. One thing that came up fairly frequently, almost like people were reading from the same playbook, was a denial of the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. I can’t tell you how many times I heard someone say, “You know that book was written by men, right?” And I used to, rightly, do my best to show that it was God’s word, written through men, and that it was infallible, authoritative, and perfect. But one thing I began to realize was that this was just a distraction.
What I don’t mean is that the doctrine of Scripture is unimportant and shouldn’t be addressed. It is of paramount importance. We must be willing to stand on the word of God. But as important as the doctrine of Scripture is, there is one thing that it isn’t: It isn’t the gospel. It’s one thing to defend the Scripture, it is another to share the gospel through the Scripture. We give people God’s word like a sower sows seeds (Luke 8:11). We hope that they hear it, believe it, and are saved from the wrath to come. God’s word is living and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, so in our evangelism it is crucial that we share the word (Heb 4:12).
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“Is It Bad?” Is the Wrong Question

The next time you have a choice to make…ask the question, “Is this good?” We want to pursue those things that build up, as well as avoiding the bad; to walk in righteous paths rather than just avoiding the sinful ones.

Me: “Hey Stacy, do you remember that kids movie?”
Stacy: “Sort of.”
Me: “Do you remember if it’s bad? Should we show the kids?”
Stacy: “I don’t know if it’s bad, but is it good? I think that’s the question we need to be asking.”
Me (in my head): “Ouch. Thank you Lord for a godly wife.”
Sometimes you need a good knock in the head to get your eyes watering and your brain to thinking straight. “Is it bad?” What a terrible question. There are a thousand things that are “not bad” that offer no net positive. And that is especially what we are aiming for with our children. We want to do more than avoid harm. We want to actively pursue good!
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“I’m So Happy! I’m Going to Teach Children!”

My grandmother wrote this keen observation as she began her time preparing to teach children: “I quickly began reading and studying the teacher’s book, then the pupil’s book, then the teacher’s book – until I realized that I had forgotten the most important Book: the Bible. Believe me, I’ve started with that Book first ever since.” What a great reminder! The kids you teach need God’s word just like everyone else. 

In 1974, my Grandmother wrote those exact words in a magazine titled Children’s Leadership. Here’s the first sentence of that article: “Right now I’m so excited I can hardly concentrate on typing this article. You see, I’ve been asked and elected to teach children again next year!” This is the most quintessential Grandmother thing she could have written. As long as I knew her, she had a deep love for children. And she didn’t just love children, but she loved to tell them about Christ. I remember her talking to me after my sister had her first child. We were looking in the window at a newborn in the nursery and she said, “I wonder when he’ll give his heart to Christ.” Having recently come across some of her writings, and also teaching 5-year-olds myself this year, I wanted to share some encouragements from her about teaching children.
First, can we get onboard with her enthusiasm? You get the opportunity to teach children about the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ, and you’re bummed? We get to be among the first ones to plant those seeds that could grow into eternal life. We might be the first people to tell these kids words like justification. We are one stepping stone in the path that could lead to salvation, and that’s really exciting! When the children came to Jesus, He didn’t shrug them off like some major inconvenience.
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Addition by Subtraction

Christians, let’s be content with what we have. Let’s learn to be content in whatever situation we find ourselves. Remember, God has said that He will never leave us or forsake us. Let’s not seek contentment through adding to our possessions, but rather let us seek to add to our contentment by subtraction.

Have you ever noticed that somehow the richest people often seem the least content? Just this past week I saw an interview with a celebrity (two actually) who, at the height of his career, was the most unhappy he’d ever been. It’s amazing how those who have the most going for them, never actually seem to be content in their success. How does someone find contentment? Specifically, how does a Christian find contentment?
First, let me start by exposing what is our natural method of finding contentment. We start with a desire: a bigger house, more money, a better job. We assume that in order to find contentment, we must raise up our possessions to the height of our desires. “If I just had a better job, then I would be content.” Or maybe, “If my kids were more like this, then I would be content.” This is our natural tendency, and this is the way of the world. We think that contentment is gained by adding to what we have. But the Christian seeks contentment, not by addition, but rather by subtraction.
The Christian understands that the eye of man is never satisfied (Ecc 1:8).
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You Want People To Think Better of You Than You Deserve

What glory does God receive from our confession? First, confession is admitting that God is, “righteous in all his ways” (Psalm 145:17). Confession is glorifying to God because we are saying, “God, You are right, and I am wrong!” We are dethroning ourselves and coming to a right view of our sin. Second, confession glorifies God because when we confess our sins, we are acknowledging that only He can deal with our sin. 

A friend of mine once said, “You know why we don’t confess our sin? Because we want our lives to look like a George Muller biography.” What he meant was, we often fail to confess our sin because we so badly want to be perceived as strong in the faith. If we confess, then people will know that we are just as weak and sinful as the next man. And that kind of knowledge doesn’t work well with the image we are trying to maintain. It is an unfortunate fact that you and I want people to think better of us that we deserve.
The sad thing is, sometimes we get away with it. Sometimes we let the praise of men linger too long. We hear others speaking well of us, too well of us, and we love it. Sinful pride creeps into our hearts, and we begin to deceive ourselves and believe our own press. But deep down we know. We know that we are not good. We understand it theologically, but we also know it experientially. Even our best days are riddled with mixed affections and conflicted motives. Our willingness to hear our own praises, mixed with a lack of confession, presents a faulty reality to those around us. We set up a false image of ourselves for others to marvel at. And when we fail to acknowledge our shortcomings and allow people to think better of us than we deserve, we perpetuate a culture that lacks confession, sin remains undealt with, and ultimately God is not glorified.
A Culture Without Confession
When we fail to confess, others are less likely to confess. This same friend said to me, “It’s really hard to confess my sin when everyone around me just wants to go die for Christ.” Those extreme feelings of devotion are good and godly, but they’re not the whole truth.
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