“…God’s kindness leads you to repentance…” –Romans 2:4
Repent. It’s a word that may be hard to define in our day. Yet, repentance runs through the pages of Scripture. It’s a key concept for the Christian life. Repentance in its simplest form is turning. It’s turning away from sin and towards God. It’s turning from something less to something better. It’s saying no to say yes. Repentance is a reorienting of our lives and actions away from the ways of the world to live in line with Jesus. It’s seeing Christ’s kindness for us at the cross and letting His love turn us towards Himself. It’s wanting Him more than anything the world could give, so we say no to our sin to say yes to Him.
We didn’t stop sinning at salvation; therefore, we mustn’t cease to repent. Repentance isn’t a one-time event for the believer; rather, it’s a posture for the Christian life. In the words of John the Baptist, “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) As a church, we wanted to equip you with what practical repentance can look like in your lives.
Repenting means confessing.
We begin by admitting that our way is wrong and God’s way is right. Before you can receive grace, you need to know you need grace. Jesus is the ultimate surgeon, but He can only heal what we let Him touch. So, the first step in repenting is confessing. It’s showing Him our mess. We offer Him our weakness, where we’re broken, where we’ve gone wrong. That’s when He points us to His wounds, and our healing begins. John says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We’re not meant to do it alone, either. We experience the goodness of His grace through the physical hands of the church. Do you have a group to get real with regularly? Do you have a small crew that knows everything about you? Do you have a circle that can check you and you consistently confess to? James says it’s here you find healing. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Repenting begins with confessing.
Repenting means turning.
Confession is where repentance starts but is far from where it ends. If we want God’s grace, we must turn from our sin. As we see His grace as more desirable than our sin, we’re compelled to turn from our sin to embrace His grace. Grace is freely offered and cannot be earned, but you must take hold of it in your life. It’s free to gaze upon but costly to cling to. It is impossible to hold on to grace if we still hold on to sin. You must let go of one before you can fully grasp the other. Jonah said it best: “those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs” (Jonah 2:8). We must ask ourselves what areas in our lives are keeping us from resting in His grace. Repenting means turning.
Repenting means mourning sin.
While this isn’t a popular point, it characterizes true repentance. Thomas Watson, a 17th-century English Puritan preacher and author said it well when he wrote,
“He that can believe without doubting suspect his faith, and he that can repent without sorrowing suspect his repentance.”
In the words of Paul, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
First, there’s a difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. It’s the difference between guilt and conviction, the enemy and the Holy Spirit, the voice of condemnation, and the pruning of God. Godly sorrow comes from hurting the One we love. Seeing how God loves us brings us to sorrow at the sight of our sin against Him. The primary problem with our sin is not in what we do but in who we’ve sinned against. Sin is grave because we’ve wronged a great God. Once we grasp the weight of our sin, we come to a better realization of the weight of His love. Paul urges us to experience the sorrow of seeing we’ve offended the One who loves us and receive forgiveness in doing so. We’re not meant to stay in sorrow very long. Glance at your sin, and gaze on the cross. We don’t beat ourselves up. Instead, God will quickly move us past the weight of our sin into the wonder of His grace. Because we love Him, repenting means mourning our sin.
This week remember He has more grace than we have sin. He has more love for you than you’re aware of. His gospel is better than anything the world has to offer. We want to be a people who want to be His people.
So, we confess where we’ve been wrong, knowing His wounds make us clean. We turn away from our sin and towards our Savior because He first moved towards us. We experience godly sorrow in seeing our sin and let it move us to rely more deeply on the one who was perfect in our place. This process is called repentance. Our prayer for our church is that we would produce fruit in keeping with repentance. In view of His mercy, let His kindness lead you to repentance.
“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.