What is Repentance?

"Repent!" That is a word reminiscent of old-time revivals when the preacher would speak of the fires of hell and call his listeners to consider their sinful ways and turn to Jesus. It is not a word often heard these days, except for occasions at some churches. However, it is a word deeply entrenched in the Bible and is a vital word for us to grasp and respond to!

The word repent means to turn back to God and away from our sin. It conveys they idea of a change of heart that leads to a change of mind. Thus, the whole person's life and direction is turned in God's direction. Some people when asked what they think this word means will respond with something like, "to feel sorry or bad for what you have done." While this is partly true, it is only half of the story. Paul gives us a fuller picture in 2 Cor. 7:10 when he writes, "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." In other words, it is not enough to feel sorry that we were caught or that we did something wrong. True repentance leads a person to run back to God and change the way he or she is behaving so that the subsequent actions align with what pleases God.

Ezekiel addresses the lack of repentance on the part of Israel for their sins. This is why God, even after repeated warnings, finally brought judgement upon his people. However, throughout the Old Testament and New Testament, God's ultimate desire is not judgment, but intimate fellowship with us through forgiveness and reconciliation. in fact, this is partly why God has taken so long prior to the return of Jesus. Second Peter 3:9 tells us, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."

God is a gracious God who loves us and even sent his only Son, Jesus, to give us eternal life. However, for that gift to be enjoyed, it must first be accepted. And that first step is a step of repentance. Peter preached in Acts 3: 19 "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord." Also, in Acts 2:38 Peter tells the crowd on the day of Pentecost, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. "

Salvation is more than a simple prayer. It is more than a one time event. It involves the whole person in faith, confession, baptism, and a continual living in relationship with the Father through the Son. When we stumble and fall--and we all do!--we are told to come clean, confess, and get back up and continue heading in God's direction (1 John 1:8, 9). As we study through Ezekiel, let's be sensitive to what the Spirit has to say to us about our own hearts; and, when necessary, repent as the Spirit makes us aware of sin in our lives. Then, and only then, will we be able to enjoy the "times of refreshing" the Lord has promised those who turn to him.

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1 Comment

Samantha - September 18th, 2023 at 4:29pm

Such a great message!