April 16, 2021
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?
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.
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”?
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.
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.