The Need for Repentance

April 16, 2021

repentance

Jesus’ first words after his temptation when he began his public ministry was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) There is no mistake in this being the first thing that Jesus started to tell the world. The bible is full of examples where humanity when off the rails away from God. Then God who is rich in mercy would call them to repent and return to him. When humanity repented then God’s punishment was removed, postponed, or lessened. When humanity refused, God’s punishment and judgment would be carried out as He promised. Jesus compels us to repent because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Why is this so important? 

What it means to repent.

Repent – to change one’s mind, to think differently, reconsider morally  

Repentance isn’t just feeling badly for doing something wrong. It is a complete change of heart, attitude, and behavior. There are several steps to true repentance. 

  • Acknowledgment – you cannot begin to have remorse for an action that you don’t acknowledge is hurtful, sinful, or wrong. If you believe that slashing the tires of someone who has cheated on you is merely an act of justice it will be very hard for you to repent. #carrieunderwoodsongs The first step of repentance is awareness and acknowledgment of our wrongdoing. Personally, I find this step to be one of the most difficult. This is all about owning up to the part you played in sin.  
  • Confession – once we realize we have something we need to repent of we must confess it. The Catholic church has a sacrament called “Reconciliation” that encourages people to confess their sins to a priest. Biblically, you can simply confess your sins to God directly. However, there is something incredibly releasing that occurs when you confess to another person. This step of confessing begins the process of reconciling to God’s way. * If you confess to another person make sure you can trust them and they are spiritually mature.
  • Asking for forgiveness – This can seem like it should be rolled up into confession but let me explain it this way. Have you ever had someone admit to doing something but fail to say they are sorry? That’s like confessing without asking for forgiveness. The process is simple and straightforward but it is necessary to admit we are wrong AND to ask Jesus to forgive us. The good news is that God is already in a position to forgive. It is why he sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins once and for all.
  • Turn away from the sinful behavior – Another piece of true repentance is then turning away from the sin. Some sins are sneaky and hard to turn away from because they “don’t harm” anyone. A few examples include pride, being a workaholic, using God’s name in a curse, lying to avoid complications, or protecting someone.

According to Lessons from Home, there is another step to repentance which is restoring. I believe that this is beneficial to do when it’s possible and it is healthy. Sometimes restoring the wrong done isn’t possible. A good example is repenting of harboring bitterness and hatred towards a parent that has deceased. You cannot restore the wrong done to that individual. Although, in the case of the deceased parent, you can work to rebuild or restore relationships with other family members that might have been impacted. You can also commit to behaviors that will prevent the same kind of bitterness in your own children. You may not be able to restore the wrong done in every situation but you should attempt to restore whenever possible. 

So we have discussed how to repent, but why did Jesus start his ministry by saying “repent”?


Why we need repentance.

As I mentioned above repentance is changing the way we think. You see when we became Christians we were brought out of the Kingdom of darkness and into the light. 

Colossians 1:13-14 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Our salvation is secure but we are also meant to live here on earth as citizens of heaven which requires a different mindset. It requires us to think and behave differently than the world. If we are going to house the Holy Spirit within us we have to regularly clean the house through the process of repentance. I love how Harold Martin describes it like a poor person moving out of a shack and into a palace. We are called children of God, a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9). So we must begin removing our old dirty rags. Repentance is the process of cleansing our spirits and changing our mindsets to become more like Jesus every day. 


Benefits of repentance:

  • Keeps us humble – Saying you are sorry and recognizing you are wrong requires humility. Repentance is a great weapon against pride and self-righteousness.
  • Repentance brings healing – Multiple times in the gospels Jesus would first forgive the sins of a person and then healing was released. As we repent we remove barriers to Jesus’ healing power.
  • It unifies – saying your sorry is a shortcut to reconciliation. It’s not foolproof for sure but when we are willing to admit our wrongdoing it opens the door to reuniting with those we have hurt.
  • It sends the devil packing – repentance is a weapon because sin separates us from God, but repentance brings us closer to Him. The enemy does everything in his power to keep us holding on and burying our sin so that we remain far from God. When we repent we come into the presence of the Holy Spirit and that sends the enemy packing. This is why repentance is important to do often.

Repentance is powerful and necessary. Before we repent the thought can fill us with dread. Be reminded that feeling is the enemy trying to convince you that if you repent things will be far worse. The word of God says otherwise. The more willing we are to repent quickly and fully the more likely we will walk humbly, unified, healed, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get good at repentance! How has repentance changed your life? Do you have a testimony of a breakthrough that came through repentance? I would love to hear about it. Please leave it in the comments below. 

Mucho Love,

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