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"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come
to repentance" 2 Peter 3:9.
Repentance is the first step we take in personally receiving the salvation
that comes through Jesus Christ. Repentance is the gateway into all the
blessings God has prepared for us.
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped
out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" Acts 3:19.
Repentance causes great joy in heaven (Luke 15:7). But before we can
understand true repentance, we need to understand what repentance is not.
- Not just feeling guilty - feeling guilty about our sin comes before
repentance, but is not repentance itself. No one repents unless they first
feel guilty about their sin, but not all who feel guilty actually repent
(read Acts 24:25).
- Not just being sorry for your sin - some people are very sorry because
of the consequences of their sin. They are not really sorry for the sin, but
for the penalty they receive in being caught (2 Corinthians 7:10).
- Not trying to be a good person - many people try in their own strength
to become a better person and change their way of life. Any self-effort has
a root of self-righteousness in it, which does not acknowledge the need of
repentance from sin (Isaiah 64:6).
- Not becoming religious - the Pharisees were extremely religious. They
fasted and prayed and had many religious ceremonies, yet never repented
(Matthew 3:7-10; 5:20).
- Not just knowing the truth - having an intellectual head-knowledge of
truth does not guarantee that the truth has become a living reality in one's
life (James 2:19-20; Matt.3:8).
Genuine repentance is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit in our
hearts. Several things mark this kind of repentance:
To repent means "to turn around, to change direction." Repentance means
turning from four things:
- Being sorry to God for your sin (Psalm 51:1-4; 38:8).
- Being truthful about your sin (Psalm 32:5).
- Changing focus to the Lord (2 Chronicles 7:14).
- Receiving the forgiveness of God (1 John 1:9).
- Taking responsibility before God (Luke 19:8; Lev.6:1-7).
But just turning from these things is not enough. It is what we
turn to that makes the difference.
- Turning from sin (1 Peter 3:10; Gal.5:19-21; Eph.5:5).
- Turning from the world (1 John 2:15; James 4:4).
- Turning from yourself (2 Corinthians 5:15; Luke 14:26).
- Turning from the devil (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13).
- Turning to righteousness (Romans 6:13).
- Turning to God (Acts 20:21; 1 Thessalonians 1:9).
Revelation and Repentance
"'...God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and
Christ.' When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said
'...what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent...'" Acts 2:36-39.
When Peter preached the Gospel on the day of Pentecost, the response his
hearers made was to repent. Repentance was their response to the work of our
God in their lives.
First comes revelation
Notice that Peter did not preach repentance. He preached Jesus. The Bible
says that his hearers had such a revelation of Jesus (verse 36) that they
were "cut to the heart" and asked: "...what must we do?" (verse 37). Then
Peter told them: "Repent!" Without a revelation of God, there can be no
Then comes repentance
Repentance is our response to a revelation from God. Every time we confront
a revelation of God's word, our response should be repentance. For example:
Revelation - Repentance
Romans 6:6-7 - Romans 6:11-13
Galatians 6:14 - Romans 12:2
Romans 8:5-8 - Galatians 5:16
Romans 11:36 - 1 Corinthians 8:6
"Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so
prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do
not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says"
A Command from God
"In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands
all people everywhere to repent" Acts 17:30.
Repentance is a decision that we make, a "turning around" away from the
world, to face God. There are two kinds of repentance that God requires,
pictured in Jesus' parable of two sons (read Luke 15:11-32):
Living separate from God
The younger son walked away from his father, just as most of mankind has
walked away from God. This son finally "came to his senses" (revelation) and
returned to his father (repentance). Like this, our initial repentance is a
decision to turn around and come back to God.
Turned away from God
The older son never left his father, yet he was not with his father. The
separation he experienced was not physical, but it was just as real. In the
same way, many Christians have not left God, but they are facing away from
Him. Their eyes are on the world. Repentance, for them, means a turning
around to face God, not the world (read Zechariah 1:3; James 4:8).
Repentance means responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, as He
pinpoints areas in your life He wants to change (Ephesians 4:30). Repentance
is the gateway into the fullness of life God has planned for you! (John 10:10).
"...In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and
trust is your strength..." Isaiah 30:15.
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