“…when he came to himself…”– Luke 15:17
These are some of the most beautiful words we read about the prodigal son. It is that lowest place of soul that can bring the darkest nights. It is only in the darkest nights that light that was once bright can now be seen in the outlying distance. It is when we are in extreme need that we begin to think about our circumstances. The filth that we were once blinded to then progressively comes into view, and we find ourselves asking, “How did I get here?” Coming to our senses can be a giant step forward to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ.
There can be no conversion of a soul without the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and conviction (John 16:5-15). This leads to the road of repentance and justification. As J.I. Packer wrote, “Repentance is always set forth as the path to remission of sins and restoration to God’s favor.” When the prodigal came to himself, he was at the entrance to this road. It is when he arose and went to his father that true repentance began in his heart.
There is no saving faith without repentance. Jesus cannot merely be our Savior, He must also be our Lord. Repentance is when a Christian radically changes their mind and lifestyle. It is the beginning of a new life and is evidenced both inwardly and outwardly. We see this change in the youngest son’s life. The vices he once sought for desperately with his inheritance, he forsook. He turned, went in the opposite direction, and began “practicing the virtues most directly opposed to them.” It is a beautiful story of a father’s love and a sons repentance and restoration.
The United States has been predominantly Christian in its history. Yet many have told God, like the prodigal son to his father, “I don’t want to have anything to do with You.” We want our inheritance, yet we do not wish to have God as part of our lives. We want salvation and eternity in heaven, but we want to live like the world simultaneously. The prodigal had to go to the depths of the soul to finally come to a place where he realized the filth he was living in. If you have not turned from your sins yet, how low are you willing to go before you turn back to Christ?
“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”– Psalm 34:18