Dear Christian: Repentance

Introducing Michael Stone

Jesus follower. Husband. Dad. Grandpa. Apple/Mac snob. High Tech Hillbilly. Creative Writer. Copy Editor. Wordsmith. Graphic Communications geek. Animal lover.

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Dear Christian,
What does “repentance” mean? Do you know? Are you sure? Are you unsure? Does knowing what repentance is even matter?

I used to think that telling God that I was sorry for my sins was repenting. Is that what you believe? I was mistaken. Just saying, “I’m sorry for my sins” is meaningless. Even if you are truly sorry for your sins, just telling God that you’re sorry is pretty much meaningless. If just saying, “I’m sorry for my sins, God” were repentance, then hell is full of repentant people. They’re ALL sorry – now.

No, repentance isn’t just telling the LORD that we are sorry. Repentance is actually BEING sorry for our sins and sinful lifestyle, AND changing our minds and our hearts, following Jesus and His ways, with the help of His Holy Spirit. Repentance is a gift, not a chore. When we’re truly repentant, our nature will be to be like Jesus. We will hunger and thirst after righteousness. We won’t be able to get enough of communing with Him 24/7, even throughout our busiest of days. Repentance involves abiding in Jesus and He in us. Abiding in His word, and His word abiding in us. That’s good stuff, Maynard!

When we truly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, He makes all things new. We become a new creation in Him. His Holy Spirit abides in us. His words abide in us, and we in Him. Being saved is a transaction. We give Jesus our lives, and, in return, He gives us new life – eternal life. Eternal life doesn’t begin after we die, or are taken up in the Rapture. Eternal life begins the very moment that we surrender our lives and wills to Jesus, making Him our Saviour, our Lord. When that happens, our thoughts change. Our behavior changes. Our way of living changes. We completely change direction. It’s a spiritual 180° turn, resulting in a 180° change in our thoughts and behavior. That 180° turn is what repentance is. A change of heart and mind, going in the opposite direction. When we truly give our lives to Jesus, repentance will come natural to us. We will no longer desire what displeases Him. Sure, the temptations will come, but He promised to always make a way of escape for us. When we treasure His word in our hearts, He gives us the strength to resist the devil and to not sin. Again, because of His Holy Spirit inside of us, it will just be our nature.

When Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”, it wasn’t an ultimatum from an angry LORD. What He was basically saying is, “If you love Me, keeping My commandments will be your very nature.” Kind of like saying, “If you inhale, you’ll exhale.” Walking in His ways will just come naturally for us when we truly love Him.

Now, back to the question at hand. Does knowing what repentance is even matter?

Absolutely.

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