Repentance is central to God’s dealings with human beings. The Greek word metanoia means a true change of mind about sin and its cause, turning 180 degrees from sin toward God. Repentance is mourning for sin, not just regret or remorse for sin’s consequences. Godly sorry leads to repentance and it more than being sorry over failing to be what we want to be.
Repentance is a gift from God (Romans 2:4). It is important once for salvation but continues as a tool to remove anything that interrupts our fellowship with Jesus. Repentance makes us tender toward God. Deep repentance leads to such freedom at the cross that we desire nothing more than Jesus. Real repentance must point always to the cross, where the power lies to remove guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1).
Jesus is the Author and Power of repentance. He wants honesty and transparency with himself and others. (Acts 5:31; 2 Timothy 2:25). Repentance begins participation in the life of the Spirit (Acts 2:38).
True repentance is evidenced in actions and attitudes (Acts 26:20). Repentance changes our life assumptions and desires from pursuing worthless things to turn us toward the living God (Acts 9:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:9). Repentance changes us from a self-centered to a God-centered life.
Repentance is not a good work that we should do. We cannot create repentance by human effort. Repentance comes through Christ’s grace towards us. Therefore we need to ask for a spirit of repentance to fall on us, our families, our church, and our nation.
Jesus began his ministry with a call to repentance, and seven times in Revelation he called the churches to repent (Revelation 2:5, 16, 21, 22; 3:3, 19). The Bridegroom is cleansing the church “to present her to himself as a radian church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27).
Do Christians need to repent today? Only if we want revival, spiritual awakening, and the holiness of God present and operating among us. Where there is death, flesh, and carnality, we need God’s new life in the Spirit. That is revival. Revival comes as we in our church humble ourselves before God to open every closet of our lives to His holy cleansing and allow him to remove everything that grieves his holiness.
When I am honest, I must confess that I need the grace of repentance. I love my own righteousness, but it is spiritual pride. I serve my own agenda, but it is selfishness. I am at times wrong-headed, misguided, presumptuous, demanding, and impatient. I need his mercy. I need for God to deal gently with me because I am willful, ignorant, and wayward. I need his grace to crucify my strengths, my prejudices, my good ideas, and my experience.