Repentance is a key characteristic of a follower of Jesus. In salvation we repent of our sins and receive Jesus as Savior. However, our repentance isn’t over with salvation. Believers in Jesus must be life long repenters because, even though we are saved by the blood of Jesus, we are not perfect and still sin. In discipleship we repent because we are already saved, and it’s our heart’s desire to keep our close intimacy with God and to experience His manifest presence in our lives. Repentance for a believer is crucial as we journey on the road of holiness, and as we live our lives for His glory.
Repentance, which means to change one’s mind, goes deeper than confession. In confession, (which literally means “to say the same word”), we agree with God that our sins are contrary to His moral standard of holiness. But we must not stop there. After confessing our sins, we must turn away from them (i.e.: repent), resolving that, with God’s help, we will not fall into them again. Repentance, simply put, means that I hate my sins, not because I got caught or because of the consequences I might have to face because of them, but because they grieve the heart of my heavenly Father. And, very importantly, repentance is seen by changed behavior. A truly repentant heart is intentional in doing whatever is necessary not to repeat the sin. It is a change of mind and a change of heart.
Repentance is a key concept taught throughout Scripture. The message of the Old Testament prophets was a call to Israel and the surrounding nations to repent of their evil deeds or God’s judgment would surely come. John the Baptist’s message to the people was one of repentance in preparation of the coming Messiah. The first words Jesus spoke as He began His ministry was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). In response to Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, his audience asked what they needed to do to be saved, and his response was “repent…”. Indeed, repentance is the key to the heart of God because it reveals a humble, broken heart. In David’s great Psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, he said in verses 16 and 17:”For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise”. This is a powerful picture of.repentance.
And repentance is crucial in revival. If we are to see God rend the heaven and come down in revival (see my previous post), We, His church, must fall on our faces and repent – first of our own sins, and then of the sins of our nation. We must not just talk about how bad things are in our country and how much we need revival. We must act, and that action starts with repentance. The prophet Joel cried out to the Israelites: “And rend your hearts and not your garments. Now return to the Lord your God…”. (Joel 2:12-13). What a timely message for today! We must rend our hearts (repent) and forget the lip service of shallow religion. We need to get serious and humble ourselves before our holy God in transparency, humility and desperation, and cry out to Him for mercy.
A repentant heart doesn’t look at others and think how much “they” need to repent and how much “they” need revival. The truly repentant person looks at his or her own heart and realizes how desperate they are in need of repentance and revival. Rending our hearts in true repentance reveals a brokenness that God honors: “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15.
Do you see, my friends, God responds to the brokenness of repentance. America needs revival desperately. And although revival is a sovereign work of God, history reveals that He responds to the urgent prayers of His people when they come to Him in brokenness, and rend their hearts in deep repentance. “If My people,who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land: 2 Chronicles 7:14.
If God is to rend the heavens and come down one more time, we must first rend our hearts in humble repentance. Will you join me in this?