The Importance of Repentance in the Life of a Believer
It’s not a popular word. Our pride often trips us up and keeps us from our best life in Christ. We, humans, don’t like to be told that we are wrong. We’re pretty sure we are right.
Some may believe that repentance is only a word for the moment of salvation. Jesus’ blood forgives all of our sins…past, present, and future…so isn’t repentance obsolete after we accept that gift? Why apologize for something that’s already forgiven? Why repent if we have freedom in Christ?
But Christianity isn’t a business deal. It’s a personal relationship.
When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, we become God’s child. He is our good Father, and we are His children. Like any good Father, God has laid out for His children boundaries and instructions. He’s done this, not to our detriment, but for our good. As Creator of the Universe, He knows exactly what will heal us and exactly what will harm us.
And because He loves us, He does not fluctuate His boundaries or instructions. They are solid and unchangeable. He makes them abundantly clear to us…in His Word and through His Holy Spirit. When we cross those lines or ignore those instructions it affects our relationship with Him.
As a child, did you ever disobey your parents? They told you specifically to do or not to do something, but you went your own way anyway? What did that do to your relationship with your parents if you didn’t come clean and apologize right away? Likely, you found yourself hiding it from them. Maybe you distanced yourself so they wouldn’t find out. You might have even continued in a destructive path of disobedience.
I don’t know how we can expect it to be any different with God. Our sins damage our relationship with Him, and repentance repairs that damage.
Some of you may be thinking, like I used to, that you don’t ever really have anything to repent of. You might think that you’re a pretty good Christian. You don’t break the ten commandments. You don’t hang out with people who do. You’re all good. You can’t really relate to the word “repentance”. This is called self-righteousness. I only know because I was the chief of sinners in this regard.
Here’s what began to cure me of it…cause I really couldn’t see it in my own heart...I thought I was doing pretty good with what God required of me. But I was still miserable inside. Until I was challenged to sincerely pray this prayer…
”Search me, Oh God. Try my heart. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of everlasting.”
Not long after that, I found myself in a study on the chapter in Galatians that lists the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. I looked up definitions and synonyms for each of these things. I started to pay attention to my daily interactions and see much more flesh in me than fruit.
Even worse, when I tried to change these things…to write them down…to come up with strategies to combat them…to try my hardest…it just got worse.
My self-righteousness had limits and those limits caused me to despair.
It is only as I’ve learned to come to Jesus in repentance…to receive His mercy and remember what it cost Him…to ask God for His help…that I have truly seen progress in my relationship with the Lord.
The Church is praying for revival, but it won’t come until repentance becomes as natural as breathing to us. We aren’t saved from having to repent. Salvation simply gives us the conduit through which to repent. We need an understanding of repentance more than we’ve ever needed it before so that we can become the Church that God created us to be.
”God, have mercy on Your people. Help us to humble ourselves so You don’t have to humble us. Send the conviction of Your Holy Spirit to our hearts that we might continually make ourselves clean before You through the blood of Jesus. Thank You, Jesus, for Your sacrifice that draws all men to the foot of the cross to lay down sins, burdens, guilt, and shame. Teach us to be a people of repentance. We love You. Amen.”