Repentance means to turn around or turn back to God. It is a reversal, a change of direction from idols to the living God. The theme of repentance is found 110 times in the Bible. John the Baptizer (Matt 3:2 and Jesus (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:3; 13:31) called people to repentance. Early Christian preaching focused on proclaiming Jesus as the prophesied Messiah and calling for repentance before Him. Repentance is found 11 times in Acts (5:31; 11:18). Repentance was Paul’s theme (Acts 26:20; 2 Cor. 7:10; 12:21; Rom 2:4; 2 Tim 2:25). Repentance was the warning given to the seven churches in Revelation.
The Beatitudes (Matt. 5) are good for repentance. The first four give us elements of true repentance: poverty of spirit (the confession of spiritual helplessness), sorrow for sin, meekness, and hunger and thirst for righteousness. These characteristics describe a heart that has turned back to God.
What is true repentance?
- A condition of blessing an gift from God – 2 Chronicles 7:14; Acts 5:31; 11:18; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25
- The first word of the Gospel – Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:3
- Obedience to God’s command – Matt. 4:17; Acts 17:30
- Prerequisite to forgiveness – Acts 3:19
- The desire of God’s heart – 2 Peter 3:9
Why should we repent?
Because of the holiness of God and the response that is due Him because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). God is too pure to look on evil (Habakkuk 1:13). Repentance is the only possible response we can give to His holiness (Isaiah 6:5). Holiness is being set apart from our former way of life. Therefore, holiness is a state of repentance. There are other reasons for repenting.
- Our sins separate us from God – Isaiah 59:2
- Lack of repentance saps our strength – Psalm 32:3-4
- Unrepented guilt is a burden too heavy to bear – Psalm 38:4
We repent in order to
- Be saved and forgiven of our sins (2 Cor. 7:10; Acts 2:38)
- Truly live (Luke 13:3; John 10:10)
- Obey God’s command (Matt. 3:2; Acts 17:30)
- Be in right relationship and fellowship with God (Isaiah 66:1-2; John 15:1-4; 10-11)
- Be in fellowship with God (Isaiah 66:2)
- Give no place to the power of evil in our lives (John 14:30)
- Not to lose our testimony (Revelation 2:5)