When Paul looked around Athens, he saw evidence of very religious people (Acts 17:22). The hillsides held statues of gods, objects of worship, and inscriptions to honor even unknown deities. Citizens of the twenty-first century may prefer the word “spiritual” over “religious,” but still we seek transcendence. Paul answered that universal thirst with the gospel.

The good news of the gospel — that God loves us and sent Jesus to die for us — demands a response. In the verses quoted above, Paul tells us clearly what God requires. “God commands all people everywhere to repent (a word that means to turn from our evil ways and turn to God).”

Many people insist on the basic goodness of people. They prefer to blame lack of education or poverty for our evil tendencies. But Scripture teaches that like Adam and Eve, although created in the image of God, every human sins. Reality attests to that truth. Selfishness, laziness, and dishonesty come naturally, whereas honesty, patience, and diligence require training and discipline.

If we are truthful, we see the areas in our lives where we fall short — not just of God’s definition of right and wrong — but our own.

Still, Paul gives another compelling reason to repent.

God has appointed Jesus to one day judge the world. You see, life on earth will not continue indefinitely, gradually improving until we reach a state of utopia. A time of reckoning approaches. Jesus’ sinless life and resurrection from the dead provide proof of his power and his authority to judge all people.

Praise God that when we return wholeheartedly to God, trusting in Jesus’ work on our behalf, his righteousness becomes our own.

Holy God, thank you for the good news that when I confess my sins and return wholeheartedly to you, you forgive my sins. I know the day is coming when you will judge the world. Thank you that I don’t have to fear your judgment because Jesus washes me clean and gives me his righteousness by pure grace.

Throughout This Day: Take time to ask God if there are any things preventing you from returning wholeheartedly to him to live fully for him in all areas of your life in the power of his Spirit. If there are, invite him to soften your heart and renew your desire to live as his obedient child.

Tags: Daily Devotional Acts 17
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