The very first words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel are. “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Please note that Jesus says, repent and believe, not accept and receive. What does it mean to repent? It is a Greek word that means to think differently; to feel compunction. It is a word that indicates a change of heart and a change of mind. When there is true repentance, you will begin to see a change in how a person lives. True repentance will effect a person’s likes and dislikes. It will effect their moral values. As long as we dwell in these mortal bodies that contain our flesh, there will never be sinless perfection this side of heaven, but there will be a definite, visible change and growth in holiness.
The gospel message is a call to repentance. On the Day of Pentecost, Peter’s reply to those who were convicted by The Holy Ghost and asked what they should do, was, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” In Acts 3.18 we read, “repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” Paul’s message to the pagan idol worshippers at Athens was, “and the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Now it must be understood that this call to repentance was a call to display a full trust in Christ’s atonement for their sin that would be manifested by an amendment of life according to the will and Word of God. The call to repentance was not intended to mean “just believe some facts about Jesus so that you won’t go to hell!” James tells us that even devils believe those very same facts about Jesus, and there are no devils going to heaven!
In Matthew 9.13, Jesus says, “but go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” In other words, the gospel is not to be interpreted as a religion of rituals, and dead works, but the manifestation of a changed life for the glory of a God. Christ calls us to repentance. A repentance that brings forth good fruit. This call to repentance is even revealed in Jesus’ letters to the 7 churches in a Revelation 2 & 3. Following Christ and a life of repentance are what living for Jesus and being “holy” is all about.
In 2 Corinthians 7.8-10, Paul makes the distinction between true and false repentance. He calls true repentance godly sorrow and false repentance worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is being sorry for getting caught in the act. In other words, a person with worldly sorrow would continue to do what they were going if they knew that they would not have to suffer punishment or consequences for the sin. By that I mean consequences here on earth. Whereas godly sorrow is like that which is recorded in Psalm 51. David’s repentance of the sin of adultery and murder was genuine because he was grieved that he had grieved God, and he did not make any excuses or blame anyone else for his sin.
There are a lot of church people walking around blaming their church, blaming their spouses, blaming their children or parents for their sin. My friend, as long as any human being is blaming someone else for their sin, he or she has not repented of that sin. To repent of sin means that I must “own it” be sorry for it, and turn away from it.
God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance. The first two beatitudes describe how we as sinners enter into the kingdom of God. We enter the kingdom of God broken over our spiritually bankrupt condition and mourning over our sin and how it has offended and grieved God. While the gospel message is one of complete forgiveness of our debt of sin, we still are sinners who live in a sinful world who are now in the life long “process” of repentance from both religious dead works and fleshly lusts as well.
When sinners repent, there is great rejoicing in heaven. God’s goodness is what leads us to repentance. God’s grace in and through faith in Christ is what enables us to repent. The precious blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us when we sin as believers and are truly sorry. Repentance is a way of life for the child of a God. It is the means of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. False repentance abuses grace as license to sin that grace may abound. God forbid! Christian liberty is not living any way we want, it is living to please God and live for His glory and honor.
Reader, have you repented of your debt of sin and trusted Jesus yo not only save you from your debt of din, but to make you holy? If not, with a broken and contrite heart, call upon His Name.