“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” – 1 Acts 3:19.
There is this idea in some circles that repentance is a unique, one-time activity that occurs when accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior. But is repentance a one-time event, or do you discover that the further you travel in the Christian journey, the need for repentance continues. Repentance has been described as, “a radical change in one’s spirit, mind, thought, and heart, a complete reorientation of the whole of one’s life.” It is a gift from God. And it is a learned but necessary skill that takes a lifetime of practice.
Repentance is more than psychological catharsis, it requires a true feeling of remorse. If one is not genuinely offended by one’s sin, there is no repentance. It demands brokenness of heart but always with the goal of healing and restoration and a renewed vision of the beauty of Christ.
In David’s psalm of repentance (Psalm 51), he reminds us that God does not delight so much in the outward signs of repentance which included making a sacrifice, He wants a change of heart. “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:17). David knew he could not fix the problem of his heart. He did not draw a line in the sand and make bold promises about what he could do for God. He threw himself on God’s mercy and grace. He prayed in verse 10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” because he realized he could not make his own heart pure. In verse 12, he prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.…” Repenting brings us to the end of ourselves and back to God’s grace.
For the rest of our lives, we as believers must turn away from sin and towards knowing, loving and obeying Jesus. The reality is we are going to stumble and fall short. We are going to mess up. There will be times when we don’t do what we are supposed to do. All of which means we need to keep repenting, keep turning back to Jesus. The truth is we don’t ever arrive. You will never get to the place where you no longer need to repent and turn back, obey and follow Jesus. We must be conscious of our sin precisely so that the forgiving, renewing, refreshing reality of God’s grace can empower our daily living.
In order to be whole, we must recognize how far short of God’s standard we fall, and be ready to seek help. Daily repentance will reveal our broken hearts and the areas in which we need the most help.
True repentance is a heart change and the determination to no longer follow after the flesh but rather turn toward Jesus Christ.
- How do you know if repentance is real? What is the result of genuine repentance?
- Is there one person in your life that you think truly understands what it means to repent? What kinds of things characterize their life?