Repentance - Your First Step to Peace with God
I have never met a man who did not want to be totally free. Have you? There is something about man that always causes him to fall short of experiencing the happiness and fulfilment he feels should be his. A friend of mine illustrated this point as he sat in my office showing and expressing utter dejection. He had just experienced his third divorce and with a sense of helplessness he stated, “Somewhere it is written in stone that I will never be happy, nothing ever works out for me.” I assured him, to no avail, that his life could be exciting and full, that God could set him free and give him a life worth living. My friend was so down that even as I shared the possibility that there was hope for his future, his depression noticeably deepened. Another strange thing occurred. Each time God was mentioned, he would become uncomfortable and change the subject. Yet it appeared he really wanted help. He wanted to be free of the endless cycle of bondage he found himself in, but he was not willing to turn to God to find this freedom. How strange to have such a marvelous gift offered, to want it so badly, yet reject it so strongly. Could it be that my friend understood something about God’s message that is so often missed, i.e. the need to repent.
He felt very uncomfortable about his sin and what God thought about him. He also did not understand that it was possible to have a brand-new start in life with God.
Dear reader, it is possible for you to be forgiven by God and experience a new life with Him. The Bible says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1. It is exciting to know that Jesus Christ stated, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
How do we enter into this new life? By getting right with God. This answer may be found in Acts 3:19, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.’’ For anyone who has repented and believed in Christ and what He did on the Cross of Calvary, can have everlasting life with God. Notice the following texts that clearly bring to our attention the matter of repentance. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” Acts 17:30. Did you catch the word “all”? That includes both you and I. This same command is repeated in II Peter 3:9, where God states He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Please understand that you are saved by faith in what Christ has already done for you. But there can be no saving faith without true repentance.
What then is repentance? It literally means to change one's mind or purpose. In this case, it refers to you and your sinful relationship before God. You must be prepared to acknowledge God’s view of yourself as stated in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Repentance has three essential elements that you need to be aware of. One, a genuine sorrow towards God because of the sins you have committed against Him. King David prayed to God and stated, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving-kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight.’’ Psalm 51:1-4. Have you grieved over your sin knowing that God is watching you?
Two, there must be an inward repugnance to sin, followed by the actual willingness to forsake it. Paul in Acts 26:20 stressed this need for us to see our sin as it really is, and also our need to express our willingness to leave our sin, when he stated, “That they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.’’ In other words, the willingness to repent must allow God to bring about a change through the conversion experience.
Three, there must be a humble self-surrender to God’s will and service. You must be willing to say to God, “Oh God, I am going the wrong way without You. I want to turn to You and go Your way with You. Take my life and do with it what You want.” The Apostle Paul in Acts 9:6 stated, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” It is important to understand that repentance is not a condition of salvation. For salvation is free in Christ, but repentance is a condition through which we are able to receive salvation as a free gift. In other words, there can be no salvation if one is not willing to repent so that God can save him.
What must you do to have peace with God? The Holy Spirit must bring you to a place of conviction where you see yourself as God sees you. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2.
You are separated from God because you are a sinful being. As you are now, you can never be accepted by God. But there is hope, for God has said He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. Then the Holy Spirit also causes you to understand the enormous price God paid through the death of His Son on the cross. For it was there Christ took your rightly deserved punishment, that you might be forgiven. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” I Peter 3:18.
Dear friend, if you would know the freedom to live, love and laugh, you must be willing to repent and let God give you a brand-new life. Forgiveness, and a new life can be yours. Will you turn to God right now and seek His forgiveness? Then inviting Christ into your life, will you let Him have His way with you? Please do it today.