“The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” Mark 1: 15.
From His first message to His last, the Saviour’s cry was to call sinners to repentance.
“For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” Matthew 9: 13.
Repentance is a critical element of conversion, but do not dismiss it as simply another word for believing. Repentance literally means to have ‘a change of mind’, but biblically it also speaks of ‘a change of purpose’, specifically a turning from sin and self and a turning to God for salvation.
Repentance involves a redirection of the human will and a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and live for the glory of God. Repentance is not a pre-salvation attempt to set one’s life in order.
The call to repentance is not a command to make sin right before turning to Christ in faith. Nor is repentance merely a human work. It is, like every element of redemption, a sovereignly bestowed gift of God.
“Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” Acts 11: 18.
“If God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” 2 Timothy 2: 25.
Rather, it is a command to recognize one’s lawlessness, to understand that we are sinners, and that our sin is an affront to a holy God, and more precisely, that we are personally responsible for our own guilt.
We need to hate sin, to turn ones back on it, and come to Christ, embracing Him as Lord and Saviour with wholehearted love and devotion.
Repentance is not limited to any single faculty of the mind, it engages the entire person: intellect, emotion and will.
Change to one’s behaviour is not in itself repentance, it is not like turning over a new leaf, but it is the fruit repentance will certainly bear.
Where there is no observable difference in a person’s conduct, there is no evidence or confidence that repentance has taken place. True repentance alters the character of the whole person.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new” 2 Corinthians 5: 17.
From Series “Genuine Saving Faith : The Fruit of True Conversion”
By John Denman
Pictures by Brenda Chu & Daphne Bailey