Corporate Repentance

Whatever the sins of your fathers have been, no matter what your past has been, remember this: God can save you if you commit your life to Him. Do not let the devil deceive you by getting you to think that your past is so bad that there is no hope for you. That is a delusion of the devil to get you discouraged. There is hope.

Ellen White wrote, “Our divine Lord is equal to any emergency. With Him nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37). In Heavenly Places, 17. God has promised to save everyone who comes to Christ Jesus. Jesus said, “He that comes to Me, I will in no case cast out” (John 6:37, literal translation). So if you come to Him and are cast out, that would prove Him a liar. Jesus Christ is able to save. The problem is that it takes a full commitment. It is wrong to think you can give half of your heart to the Lord and expect the plan of salvation to work. It will not work.

Every sin you commit, both before and after your child is born, has an effect on the children. This effect ripples down to the third and fourth generations. If you are a father, there comes a time when, as a father, you begin to see your own sins reproduced in your children. It is not a pleasant realization when you see your own sins reproduced in your children. We are told in Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, 236: “Parents have a more serious charge than they imagine. The inheritance of children is that of sin. Sin has separated them from God. Jesus gave His life that He might unite the broken links to God. As related to the first Adam, men receive from him nothing but guilt and the sentence of death. But Christ steps in and passes over the ground where Adam fell, enduring every test in man’s behalf. He redeems Adam’s disgraceful failure and fall by coming forth from the trial untarnished. This places man on vantage ground with God. It places him where through accepting Christ as His Saviour, he becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Thus he becomes connected with God and Christ. Christ’s perfect example and the grace of God are given him to enable him to train his sons and daughters to be sons and daughters of God.”

The next paragraph, a very valuable paragraph for anyone who is a parent or going to be, is having to do with raising children. Where do the children get this sinful nature and in spite of that, how can they become overcomers and be saved? Notice carefully. Ellen White tells us how this is done.

She says, “It is by teaching them, line upon line, precept upon precept, how to give the heart and will up to Christ, that Satan’s power is broken.” Ibid. Satan’s power is broken by teaching the children line upon line, how to give the heart to Christ, how to yield their will to Christ. That is how Satan’s power is broken. Unless the children learn to yield their will to Christ, Satan’s power is not broken.

The heart is the seat of emotions, affections, feelings, passions, and appetite. These must be given over to Christ, both heart and will. The will is the kingly power in a man that is the power to make decisions.

When you yield your will to Christ so that He has control of your mind, and you have given your heart to Him so He has control of your feelings, affections, passions, and emotions, “… Satan’s power is broken.” This yielding of the will is what we need to teach children how to do.

“ ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name’ (John 1:12). This is the work, the grand and holy work of parents. They are to keep before their children the great and vital work of receiving Christ, of believing on Christ as their Redeemer, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is the instruction they are to give to their children.” Ibid. Do not wait until they are grown up or think that they will get instruction in preparation for baptism. Teach them when they are just learning to talk, how to yield to Christ. “All who will accept Christ by living faith will take His life as their pattern.” Ibid.

“After the Fall Christ became Adam’s instructor. He acted in God’s stead toward humanity, saving the race from immediate death. He took upon Him the office of mediator. Adam and Eve were given a probation in which to return to their allegiance, and in this plan all their posterity were embraced. In the fullness of time Christ was to be revealed in human form. He was to assume the position of head of humanity by taking the nature, but not the sinfulness of man.

“Satan is the originator of evil. He swerved from his allegiance to God. Those who persisted in sympathizing with him in his disaffection were, with him, shut out of heaven.

“Implacable hatred against God fills Satan’s mind. Persistently he has used his influence to efface from the human family God’s image, and in its place to stamp his own satanic image. His effort to deceive our first parents was successful. Made in the image of God, the human family lost their innocence, became transgressors, and as disloyal subjects began their downward career. Satan gained control of man’s power of action. Through the senses he influenced the mind.

“Thus it has been from the beginning of the world. Instead of remaining under God’s influence in order that he might reflect the moral image of his Creator, man placed himself under the control of Satan’s influence, and was made selfish. Thus sin became a universal evil. And what a dreadful evil is sin!” Ibid., 237.

The secret to breaking Satan’s power is to teach our children line upon line, precept upon precept. That means to go over it, and over, and over, and over again on how to yield both heart and will to Christ. That is the only hope and the only way of escape your children have.

When you begin to see your own sins reproduced in your children you will not want to see your children repeat all of your own mistakes.

When my son was just a small child, I used to ride a motorcycle. Working in the emergency room at Loma Linda, I saw many motorcycle accidents come in and I decided that motorcycle riding was not a wise thing to do so I quit. I did not want my son seeing me ride and develop the same desire.

The time comes when you are a parent that you do not want your children to make every mistake you have made, and you want their mistakes to be corrected. In other words, what you would like to see is corporate repentance in your family. And this was Jacob’s experience. Remember, Jacob lied to his father. As a result of lying to his father, his brother Esau became so angry that he decided when his father died that he was going to kill Jacob.

Isaac, Rebecca and Jacob were afraid that Esau would not even wait till Isaac was dead to kill his brother. They decided that it would be better if Jacob would flee for his protection. So, Jacob made preparations and fled on foot. He was all alone with his guilty conscience. He knew the reason he was in this trouble was because he had sinned. He was separated from his family never to see his mother again, for by the time he came back 20 years later his mother had already passed away.

At his mother’s suggestion, Jacob went to Laban, his mother’s brother. God did not work a miracle to keep him from reaping the consequences of what he himself had done. While there he was deceived by Laban into marriage with the sister of the one he loved. It was a very cruel deception. Laban suggested the problem could be solved by Jacob taking Rachel, whom he really wanted, as a second wife. Jacob decided to agree to this arrangement but his domestic happiness was destroyed for just about his whole life.

I do not know how to impress on the minds of young people the consequences of unwise decisions. Often young people with the least experience and judgment make decisions that will destroy the rest of their life, or at the least make it much less happy than it could have been if they had not made those unwise decisions.

Ellen White says: “Laban understood the wrong of polygamy, although it was alone through his artifice that Jacob had taken two wives.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 116. Laban was covetous of money and saw that Jacob was such a good manager. By his devious plan he kept Jacob working for him to reap some benefits himself from Jacob’s industrious skill as a shepherd.

Now Jacob found himself married to two wives. The jealousy of the sister-wives and their handmaids resulted in terrible defects in the children. The children of Rachel, Leah and their two handmaids spent more time with each other than with their father. The jealousy they bore toward each other in regard to their positions and relationship with Jacob were the cause of the brother’s problems with jealousy, revenge, and hatred.

Most people know the story of Joseph. One reason his brothers had so much trouble with him was that they all knew Rachel had been Jacob’s favorite wife. Joseph was Rachel’s first-born son, and the other brothers who were older knew that the birthright would be given to him as the first-born son of his favorite wife. This knowledge caused contention and when Joseph related to them his dreams that appeared to indicate that he would have a high position over them, they really got angry.

What happened to Dinah was wrong. What happened with Shechem was wrong. (See Genesis 34.) Shechem should have been punished, but was it righteous to kill a whole city full of people because of the rash sin of a young man? It was a grievous sin.

In Genesis 34:30 it says, “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.’ ”

Just before his death, Jacob said, “Simeon and Levi are brothers; instruments of cruelty are in their dwelling place. Let not my soul enter their council; let not my honor be united to their assembly; for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they hamstrung an ox. Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; and their wrath, for it is cruel! I will divide them in Jacob and scatter them in Israel” (Genesis 49:5–7).

He prayed and interceded with the Lord asking what to do so that his family would be protected. God told Jacob to go back to Bethel, the place he had first slept as he fled from Esau. It was there that he had the dream of the ladder that went up to heaven. The Hebrew word Beth means house, and el is God. So Bethel is house of God.

Jacob decided before they went to Bethel that his family needed to have a corporate repentance. Where there is corporate sin, there needs to be corporate repentance. He gathered his family together and he related to them about what had happened when he had to flee from his brother Esau.

He told his family that because of his sin and what he had done, he was so discouraged and had such a guilty conscience that he laid down to sleep. While he slept, God gave him a dream, and he saw a ladder that went all the way from the earth where he was clear up to heaven. Angels ascended and descended the ladder. God spoke to him in his dream and said, “I will be with you. And I will bring you back to this place.” As Jacob told his whole family the dream he was touched with emotion and it had a softening effect on their hearts. Right there they experienced corporate repentance.

Genesis 35:1–4 says, “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.’ And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’ So they gave Jacob all their foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.”

Look at the steps that were involved in Jacob’s family obtaining corporate repentance.

  1. There was an acknowledgment of what was wrong by the father, the leader. It is not impossible but very difficult for corporate repentance to occur if the leader, the father of the family, is not involved.

An example of that would be the ten tribes. God sent them message after message by the prophet, but they never corporately repented. Finally, they committed the unpardonable sin and they were scattered among the nations. Their tribal identity has subsequently been lost.

Contrary to that, the nation of Judah and Benjamin corporately repented several times. Several good kings listened to the appeals of God’s messengers, the prophets.

The position of the father in the family carries with it awesome responsibility. Jacob, the father, led out in this desire to repent and he appealed to his family to repent also. Telling them his own story softened their hearts and led them in repentance.

  1. An appeal was made to forsake the evil. Jacob told them that the idols they had were foreign gods and not the God of heaven. He said, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you.” Quit worshiping them and purify yourselves.

Concerning those who are expecting, as Christians, to go home with the Lord, the apostle John says that “everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8 NIV). O, you cannot just go on living, doing whatever comes naturally, letting your appetites and passions control your actions. You need to put away the foreign gods and purify yourself. You need to be in control of your life.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8). The prophet Isaiah expressed it this way: “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16, 17).

Walk in God’s way. Many say, We do not have any false gods. “It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone. … With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of Jehovah. … Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah.” The Great Controversy, 583.

False doctrines, false teachings, become false gods and therefore idols. Idolatry has the effect to make people feel secure, but they are not secure. Have you met somebody who believes “once saved they are always saved”? If you try to show them what the Bible says about the Sabbath, they say, “I am saved. I do not have to worry about that.” That person worships a philosophical idol more than the word of God.

In Genesis 35, not only did they put away their false gods, purify themselves, and change their garments, but notice what it says in verse 4: “So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.”

Their repentance involved quitting to wear their jewelry. Jewelry itself is not wrong. God gave Lucifer lots of jewelry. It was beautiful, but was part of the reason for his fall. Lucifer was so beautiful that his heart was lifted up because of his beauty (see Ezekiel 28).

God made the jewels, and in heaven when the sin problem is solved, God is going to give His children more jewels than anybody has in this world. The jewels are not the problem but the pride of the wearer is where the error lies. The New Jerusalem, the holy city, is full of gold and precious stones and jewels. The problem is, because of his beauty, Lucifer’s heart became lifted up with pride. And what does the Bible say about the end of pride? It says in Malachi 4 that the days are going to come when it is going to burn like an oven, and all the proud, and all that do wickedly, are going to burn up.

Pride is a huge problem among beautiful women. Thus God has given counsel to all of His children since sin began not to wear jewelry and artificial beauty applications. By the way, how did Jacob know, how did his children know, that they should take this jewelry off and give it to Jacob and not wear it anymore?

The wearing of jewelry ever since the beginning of time has been associated with idolatry and immorality. Prostitutes in general wear lots of jewelry and make-up and color to give them beauty. This is very clear in the Bible. Let’s look at Jezebel, a very evil woman, in 2 Kings 9:30, to see how she was adorned. It says, “Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes … .” Using color around eyes is nothing new. Jezebel did that thousands of years ago.

The use of jewelry and all kinds of ornaments to look beautiful is going to be a special problem among God’s remnant people in the very last days. Isaiah 2:2 says, “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days … .” And then he begins to give a prophecy about what is going to happen. This prophecy continues clear through for several chapters. Then in chapter 3 starting in verse 13: “The Lord stands up to plead, and stands to judge the people. The Lord will enter into judgment … . Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes …” (verses 13, 14, 16). Then Isaiah talks about all their different ornaments they wear to make themselves beautiful. This prophecy continues clear through chapter 4, and it says in verses 3 and 4, “And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning.”

The filth that the Lord washes away is the pride that He described in chapter 3:16–25. Notice: The wearing of jewelry and artificial adornment is going to be a special problem among God’s remnant people, God’s chosen people, in the very last days of earth’s history. Isaiah predicts this in this prophecy.

Jeremiah talks about it in Jeremiah 4:30: “When you are plundered, what will you do? Though you clothe yourself with crimson, though you adorn yourself with ornaments of gold, though you enlarge your eyes with paint, in vain you will make yourself fair; Your lovers will despise you; they will seek your life.”

Ezekiel talks about it also in Ezekiel 23:40: “Furthermore you sent for men to come from afar, to whom a messenger was sent; and there they came. And you washed yourself for them, painted your eyes, and adorned yourself with ornaments.”

And in the book of Revelation, you have a description of two women, a pure righteous woman who is clothed with the sun (Revelation 12), and a description of a harlot woman, a prostitute who is wearing all manner of gold and precious stones and jewels. In Revelation 17:4 it says, “The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication.”

In Genesis when Jacob’s family had a corporate repentance, they took off their jewelry. At the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation, we see the very same thing again. Two women, one pure, clothed with the sun, not wearing any jewels at all, the other, a prostitute covered with jewelry and expensive clothing.

Here is what the apostle Paul said about it in 1 Timothy 2:9: “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls, or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.”

In 1 Peter 3:1–5, Peter said, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.”

My dear friends in Adventism, we talk about having revival and reformation so that the Lord can come, but in the last 30 years, the wearing of jewelry has escalated. It has come in among Adventist people like an overwhelming tide, so much so that we now even have ministers and their wives wearing rings. By the way, when I was a young minister in the North Dakota conference, no minister was ever allowed to baptize a woman who had a wedding ring on. That is the way it used to be and now the ministers themselves and their wives are wearing wedding rings.

Ellen White says the outward appearance is an index to the heart. We cannot read the heart, but we can see what is hanging and dangling on the outside and that is evidence that we are not having revival and reformation but the opposite. We are going deeper into apostasy.

Another example of corporate repentance was after the golden calf apostasy of the children of Israel just six weeks or so after the giving of the Ten Commandments. After Moses came down there was corporate repentance. You can read about that in Exodus 32 and 33.

Exodus 33:4–6 says, “And when the people heard this bad news, they mourned, and no one put on his ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the children of Israel, “You are a stiff-necked people. I could come up into your midst in one moment and consume you. Now therefore, take off your ornaments, that I may know what to do to you.” ’ So the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Horeb.”

They corporately repented. Did you notice? They had to put away the golden calf and their false gods, just like Jacob’s children did. In addition to that, they took off all the jewelry that was hanging from their ears and wrists and ankles, and every other kind of adornment.

Friends, if there was ever a time when it would not matter too much for God’s children to wear a little bit of jewelry it would not be on the Day of Atonement when your name comes up and your eternal destiny is going to be decided. We cannot afford to do anything that is contrary to God’s word that might cause us to have pride in our heart and ultimately lose our soul.

We need to pray between the porch and the altar for God’s professed people. Like I say, the jewelry itself is not the problem. When you get to heaven, you are going to have more jewelry than anybody has in this world. That is not the problem. Jewelry itself is not sinful. The problem is the pride it invokes.

The Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things and incurably wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Pride is like cancer. Some of you have worked in medical situations and are aware of the fact that cancer itself does not hurt. What hurts is the nerve that the tumor is pressing against. There have been many people who were just a few weeks away from death before they even knew they had cancer. Pride is like that. You can be full of it and you do not even know it. Can you afford to take a chance when God tells you in His word not to do something because it could cause pride to develop in your heart?

When I was a child, my father used to kneel down in our family worship and pray that our family would be saved without the loss of one. In other words, my father wanted to have corporate salvation for our family. And by the way, if you are a father, I believe that is a prayer that is appropriate for you to pray, “Lord, I want for my family to be saved as a corporate unit, without the loss of one.”

The Lord wants everyone in your family to be saved. And there are going to be corporate family units that will all be saved. Would it not be nice if your family was one of them?

(Unless appearing in quoted references or otherwise identified, Bible texts are from the New King James Version.)

Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at:, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.