Repent!

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the king­dom of heav­en is at hand.” Matthew 4:17, NKJV

Repen­tance, to put it sim­ply, is a change of mind. If after get­ting ful­ly dressed in the morn­ing I decide to change my shirt, I have repent­ed of the choice I made regard­ing what to wear.

The mes­sage of repen­tance which Jesus her­ald­ed went far beyond such a sim­ple change of mind. Those who heard Jesus would have been remind­ed of great prophets of the past who sim­i­lar­ly pro­claimed calls to repen­tance. Per­haps the words of Ezekiel would have come to their minds: “ ‘There­fore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one accord­ing to his ways,’ says the Lord God. ‘Repent, and turn from all your trans­gres­sions, so that iniq­ui­ty will not be your ruin’ ” Ezekiel 18:30, NKJV.

Now keep that change-of-shirt exam­ple in mind. The deci­sion to change my shirt–my repen­tance from the shirt I was wearing–resulted in some­thing, specif­i­cal­ly the change of shirt. That is impor­tant. Just as faith which is not evi­dent most like­ly is dead,:”(James 2:17.)”: so also is repen­tance which does not result in works fit­ting for it.:”(Acts 26:20)”:

That Jesus calls us to repen­tance ought to remind us that our God is a Holy God. To be holy means not only be to be sin­less but also to be sep­a­rate and dis­so­ci­at­ed from sin. Holi­ness is moral puri­ty and right­eous­ness, as well as con­tempt for sin.

But Joshua said to the peo­ple, “You can­not serve the Lord, for He is a holy God. He is a jeal­ous God; He will not for­give your trans­gres­sions nor your sins. If you for­sake the Lord and serve for­eign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and con­sume you, after He has done you good.”

And the peo­ple said to Joshua, “No, but we will serve the Lord!” Joshua 24:19–21, NKJV

If we do not turn from our sins toward God, our fate is bleak indeed. Joshua respond­ed to the peo­ple’s enthu­si­asm with fur­ther admon­ish­ment: “Now there­fore, put away the for­eign gods which are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord God of Israel”:”(Joshua 34:23, NKJV)”:

The peo­ple again con­firmed their repen­tance, which Joshua made final with a covenant and a mon­u­ment for wit­ness of the event. This was the impor­tance of repen­tance to those who knew and revered the Almighty God. How small a thing repen­tance is viewed as by so many peo­ple, myself often included.

And what if we for­get our repen­tance and com­mit­ment to our Holy God? Not only is Jesus holy, but He is also our Advocate.:”(1 John 2:1.)”: For those of us who have believed in Jesus, repent­ed of our sins, and been made a part of His eter­nal fam­i­ly, Jesus is ever with the Father inter­ced­ing on our behalf. When we sin, He is ready and able to restore us to fel­low­ship with God. His advo­ca­cy is tied direct­ly into the propitiation:”(Atonement; vic­ar­i­ous sac­ri­fice.)”: He has made for our sin. On its basis, all of our sins are for­giv­en, and so Jesus can plead His own blood on our behalf, for He knows that when it is applied to a sin­ner’s account at con­ver­sion, all sins are forgiven.:”(Colossians 2:14)”:

As Holy God, our sins are numer­ous and ter­ri­ble, but Jesus Christ the right­eous is there to declare us forgiven.

Repen­tance can be a dif­fi­cult thing for some; it can be hin­dered by that very tricky thing we call pride. Pride is the exal­ta­tion of self, and this stands in con­trast to an atti­tude of repen­tance, which requires of us an admit­tance not only of wrong doing (as in a sim­ple apol­o­gy), but also of wrong thoughts, atti­tudes, and more.

Repen­tance requires a fun­da­men­tal change of self image, that the exalt­ed self was supreme­ly wrong and that some­thing exte­ri­or to us ought to be exalt­ed. Jesus said that “whoso­ev­er shall exalt him­self shall be abased; and he that shall hum­ble him­self shall be exalted,”:”(Matthew 23:12.)”: and the Proverbs declare that “pride goeth before destruc­tion, and an haughty spir­it shall fall.”:”(Proverbs 16:18.)”: This is con­sis­tent with what Joshua declared to the peo­ple; fail­ure to hum­ble your­self and turn to God is very self-destruc­tive behavior!

And that’s repen­tance. For the “big” sins, repen­tance is easy. I’ve nev­er killed any­one, so turn­ing from such an activ­i­ty could­n’t get eas­i­er. Dit­to adultery.

And yet, the so-called lit­tle sins are they which I so often over­look and neglect to repent of. Does my speech con­tain lies? Am I serv­ing God and wor­ship­ing as much as pos­si­ble? Am I obe­di­ent to my employ­er as if to Christ? Do I treat my wife as lov­ing­ly as pos­si­ble? Have I turned a blind eye to some­one in need?

Trust me when I say the list could eas­i­ly go on, and look­ing at lists like that, I am again hum­bled that the Holy God would take time to act as an Advo­cate for me. Jesus, you tru­ly are amazing!

May we all live life with a spir­it of repen­tance, being ever sen­si­tive to the con­vic­tion of the Holy Spir­it. May we ask the Lord for pure hearts and pure hands, that we might fol­low after Him.

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the king­dom of heav­en is at hand.” Matthew 4:17, NKJV

Fur­ther read­ing: Psalm 51:1–4; Proverbs 1:23; Acts 3:19; Acts 8:22; 2 Corinthi­ans 5:10; Rev­e­la­tion 3:19. You might also enjoy the Com­mands of Christ Pock­et Guide, a cur­ricu­lum upon which this mate­r­i­al is based.


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One response to “Repent!”

  1. Steve Avatar

    This line of yours is the great­est of virtues, “May we all live life with a spir­it of repen­tance”. Thanks.

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Rick Beckman