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Remember when you were a kid and you got into an argument with some other kid? Remember when your parents made you apologize to each other? Remember shaking hands, hugging and apologizing? But did we really feel remorse for the argument itself? Probably not.

Remorse had to come from something inside of us. This "something" seems to be missing in this great land of ours even today. We are a country practicing idolatry and gross immorality. As a result, many well-intentioned pastors have called for national repentance, a plea to tear down pagan altars and even legislate national reform. You would think by now we would have learned that even if you attempt to legislate morality, you cannot make anyone surrender their hearts to God. That's got to come from something inside of them.

Our government, by design, is a "representative" of its constituents. Since we vote them in, they in turn represent our desires. Government, in one sense, is downstream from society at large. And society, in the grand scheme of things, is downstream from individual hearts and minds. That means if we want to fix what's wrong with this world, we must stop trying to fix it through legislation and focus on the true source of the problem: The reflection in our mirrors and what we think about God and about the world in which we live.

All of us can become engaged in change, but this only lasts for a season if a person's heart isn't changed. Without this change in heart, we will all inevitably revert back to our old ways. Government cannot bring about lasting change. Fear of punishment cannot bring about lasting change. Prosperity won't do it, either. Lest I forget, religion certainly will not do it. The truth is that lasting change is something only God can bring about. If you really want to experience this kind of change, you have to put your remorse on the front line. You have to give up. You have to lay yourself bare before the feet of Jesus and ask Him to do what you cannot do for yourself. You have to ask Him to change your heart.

You may be able to change your circumstances. You may even be able to change your behavior. But you can't change your own heart. Only God can do that, and He has promised He will if you're willing to submit to Him and trust Him.

This, my friend, is the heart of the matter.

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Rev. Robert Templeton lives in Orangeburg.

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