What is repentance?
Repentance demonstrates regrets to the extent of changing one's direction in lieu of the opposite. It shows remorsefulness for wrong doings, as one refrains from continuing along that line and changes course to the right one. It also takes a submissive and penitent heart to desire such alteration.
Jonah, a prophet who disobeyed God by refusing to go to Nineveh to preach to the residents there, repented when he found himself in the belly of the fish. After realizing he went against the command of God, Jonah cried out to God saying "I cried by reason of affliction unto you O Lord, and you heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and you heard my voice. For you had cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all your billows and your waves passed over me But I will sacrifice unto you with my voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the lord" Jonah 3:1-10. This was a prayer of repentance which God heard and granted his servant mercy.
John the Baptist preached repentance to the people of Israel, according to the command of God (Matt. 3:8). Everyone who obeyed, were baptized unto repentance, for the remittance of their sins (Mark 1:4).
We are commanded by God to repent and only by doing so, we can have salvation. In Rev 2:16, Jesus told John to tell the church of Pergamum, if they do not repent, He will come quickly and fight against them with the sword of his mouth.
Jesus, when he was told about the sufferings and the torturous death of some Galileans, cynically asked the said reporters, if they thought this happened because those people were committing more sin than others. He later pointed out, if they themselves did not repent, they will perish likewise.
After an incredible speech by Peter on the day of Pentecost, the people of Jerusalem, with pierced consciences, asked him and the other eleven disciples, what they should do so their lives could be changed. In reply, Peter said, "repent and be baptized everyone in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins"
We all need to repent daily, especially if our thoughts and ways become derailed and go out of alignment with the will of God. Sometimes we unknowingly go against the will of God but if we do not practice repenting regularly, then that will be intentional. Daily repentance shows humility and brings us into a conscious awareness of our sinful nature. Only by repentance our sins can be ultimately remitted and we can experience conversion.
Self-righteousness is a hindrance to our spiritual progression. It blinds our hearts and does not allow us to see our true nature, so we become very egotistical in our thinking, believing we are right about everything. According to 2 Cor. 7:10," godly sorrow produces repentance unto salvation but the sorrow of the world produces death". To be sorry for our sorrows does not mean we have repented. True repentance means to be sorry for our sins and to turn from it.
With regards to Pharaoh, his remorse was not on account of his sinful action but as a result of the punishment he received for it. He couldn't stand the penalties of plagues, so he asked that they be taken away, yet his heart was hardened, so he presumptuously continued in his sinful acts, after each plague was withdrawn. Was he sorry for his actions? Oh no! He just wanted relief from his torture. Likewise, many people cry to God, just to be relieved of their complexities, but continue in their old sinful, decadent ways, hoping and praying that all goes well.
An unrepentant heart is a sinful one and there is a serious penalty for this, for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Repentance makes us see ourselves as God sees us. God knows our inner beings, even more than we do. Jeremiah 17:9 says "the heart is very deceitful above all things, and is desperately wicked, who can know it? I the Lord search the heart. I try the reins" It is our duty to ask God to reveal our true selves to us, so we can seek His forgiveness and ask him to rectify our imperfections.
Repentance is a sincere and sorrowful act of acknowledging our wrong deed, as was depicted by David in Psalms 51:3, 6-7. It makes us see our true inner being, which is oftentimes despicable when compared to the nature God wants us to possess; then it gives us a deep desire to change; and by the grace of God, through Christ our Lord and the power of the Holy Spirit, the necessary changes occur.
Repentance does not warrant us God's Grace, but it is imperative for our forgiveness. When we repent, the angels in heaven rejoice. Because of their pity and grief for unrepentant souls, who have fallen into spiritual death, when one sinner repent they openly rejoice (Luke 15:7).
Repentance is a gift. It does not earn us anything. As a matter of fact, it does not put us in a position for forgiveness, or earn us salvation. It is the grace of God that puts us in that position, "for by grace we are saved through faith; and that not of ourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:7-8).
Peter knew what it was to repent. After spending over three years in the company of Jesus Christ, Peter blatantly betrayed Him when he thought his life was being threatened. Yet Peter's heart was sorrowful, because his conscience told him what he did was wrong. He regretted betraying his friend and teacher.
After Jesus' resurrection, He appeared to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias and Peter, being aware it was Him, girt himself with his fishing garment, jumped into the sea and swam ashore, with a yearning in his heart, to meet his risen Savior. Jesus, knowing Peter's heart, asked him three times if he loved Him. All three times Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep but the last time, when the question was asked, Peter's heart was grieved.
It is so ironical that Peter betrayed Jesus three times and a few days later, Jesus questioned him three times concerning the love he had for Him. Peter remarked after the last question, "Jesus, you know all things." Here Peter saw his own insufficiency and sadly but lovingly admitted that Jesus is omniscient. He was commissioned to feed the flock of Jesus with love and truth, and not to betray them, as he did Jesus.
Jesus does not want us to perish; it is His desire for us to repent of our sinful ways; and get to know Him and the love he offers (Peter 3:9). Pride and power debar us from this opportunity and makes us see ourselves as the self-righteous Pharisee, who proudly stood before the Lord, boasting of all his charitable practices and dedication to the laws, while comparing himself with the Publican who stood beside him, whom he considered to be an inferior, worthless, law breaking citizen.
On the other hand, humility makes us see our deficiency as the Publican, who reverenced God, by not even raising his head but bowing it in meekness, as he repented of his sin and sought His mercy. It takes us off the red carpet of self-exaltation and guides us to the path of insufficiency, where we helplessly lay ourselves at our Master's feet to seek His forgiveness.
Paul made mention of all his achievements and self-assuredness about his position and social standing, before he became fully regenerated. In Phil. 3:5-6, Paul, a Hebrew of Hebrews and a Pharisee, declared his family, being of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, fulfilled the Jewish law by circumcising him on the eight day. He went on to say he had a zeal to do his work, being justified that the persecution of Christians was a display of proficiency and righteousness, which was required of him as a conscientious, law abiding citizen. He broke every law of God to maintain the laws of the state and he saw it as patriotism.
However, after Paul's transformation, He said he suffered the loss of all things and counted them as dung that he may win Christ; so he may get to know Him and the power of His resurrection; and have fellowship with His sufferings, being made conformable unto death (Phil. 3:10). Later he went on to declare in Romans 2:20, that he was crucified with Christ, nevertheless he lived, yet not him, but Christ lived in him and the life he then lived in the flesh he lived by faith This was a clear indication of transformation, which must be accredited to his penitent heart through the grace of God.
We are never too old to repent and turn from doing the wrong things. 1 Kings 11:4 tells us that Solomon made a radical change in his old age, when he allowed his pagan wives to turn his heart from God, and became involved in sacrilegious worshipping. Yet, later, as he repented God forgave him. God's nature is LOVE and He is LOVE, so His loving nature will not leave us in bondage, if we acknowledge our faults and turn to Him for help.
Of all the kings that ruled Judah, Manasseh reigned the longest and committed the most formidable and abominable acts against God's principles. His father whose name was Hezekiah was a very devoted man of God, quite unlike him. Everything Hezekiah did to exalt the name of God, Manasseh undid, after he ascending the throne of Israel. He was a pagan worshipper (2 Chron.33:1-3).
Because Manasseh refused to listen to the voice of God, he paid the penalty for his wickedness, when the Lord allowed the Assyrians to dethrone him, put him in bonds and fetters and carried him away captive to Babylon (2 Chron. 33:10-11). In the time of this crisis and great distress, he genuinely repented and cried out to God for help (2 Chronicle 33:12-13). Despite of his disobedience, God in all his loving kindness and tender mercies, heard his cry, saved and re-positioned him as King of Judah.
Self-righteousness is the biggest flaw in human lives. It blinds us from seeing our sinful selves. So while the dark angel of sinful living is slaying his thousands, the white angel of self-righteousness is slaying his ten thousands.
We should be like Job, who, after recognizing the sovereign power of God, declared in Job 42:5-6," I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees thee. Wherefore I hate myself and repent in dust and ashes". Job repented for saying the things he did not know; he understood his helpless position; and considered his moral righteousness as dust and ashes before a Holy God.
Only by opening up our hearts and allowing the Holy Spirit to come in, can true repentance be made, followed by forgiveness and transformation of life.
June Morton, a retired Bookkeeper, who enjoy sharing inspirational thoughts with others
Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com
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