Learn what real-world repentance looks like, and how it is attained.
[Darris McNeely] What is repentance? Is it even a word that you know and have heard discussed at your church, in any of your religious thinking? A few years ago, I went to a focus group that was studying a question about religious messaging in the American public today, and the people there had really no concept of what this word means. Look around. Does your ministry, does your church – does it talk about and teach you what repentance is all about? Often repentance is associated with kind of a fanatical screaming of “Repent because the end is near!”. But repentance is a very important term when it comes to understanding the Bible, our relationship with God, and especially the word of God.
Look at it this way: a convicted criminal, a serious felon – after a few years in prison, he is granted a pardon by a parole board. He goes back into society. Does he repeat what he did? Or is he expected then to live a rehabilitated life? I think you know the answer. He is supposed to be living a changed life. Think about it for our own spiritual life, and our relationship with God and His word, the Bible. If we as convicted sinners – and the Bible says that we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, Romans 6:23 – if we are pardoned by God, by His grace, do we repeat then what we have been doing? Or do we make a change? I think you know again the answer to that question. We are to change.
And that’s what repentance is all about. We sincerely make changes in our life – not to warn our salvation, not to get into any form of legalism, thinking that by our good works we merit grace from God, we merit salvation – that’s not the point. It is a matter of righteousness. It is a matter of obeying God. We’ve talked in other Dailys about the law of God being clearly defined by the Ten Commandments, and how clear that is laid out before us.
In Acts 2:38 is a classic verse that says, “Repent and believe and be baptized, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Peter talks about repenting as being the first step toward receiving the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and really, repentance then becomes the first step toward – in the process of salvation that God gives to us freely.
Think about it this way. Think about the change that we must go through in order to prove to another person – whether it’s that parole board I talked about earlier, a friend, maybe, that you have offended, someone that you have sinned against, or against whom you have committed an offense, and you want to show to them your sincerity – the only sincerity we can ever show is a changed life.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 7, the apostle Paul really defines this very, very clearly, where he talks about the changes that come about. In verse 10 of this chapter, he says, “Godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, not to be repented of. The sorrow of the world works death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). There’s two types of sorrow – godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. The worldly sorrow is that which is basically, “I got caught. I’m sorry I got caught. I’m not sorry for what I did, but I’m sorry I got caught.” That’s a worldly sorrow. But the godly sorrow that Paul is talking about here in verse 10 is a change that actually clears our life – the problem, the transgression, the character or the nature, the problem that we might be struggling with and wrestling with. And in that particular phrase and teaching, the Bible gets to the essence of what repentance is. It’s a complete turnaround. It’s a change in our life, where we begin to turn from sin, turn from unrighteousness, and we begin to walk in the way of life that takes us toward God. That is the essence of repentance. It’s something that God can grant.
If it’s an alien term to you, if it’s not one that you’re familiar with, if it’s something perhaps you struggle with, take heart from this particular scripture – 2 Timothy 2:25, where it reads, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” God gives repentance. Ask for it. Take it to God. Take your condition, your situation, whatever it is you might be struggling with. You want to understand what real repentance is, you want to make a change in your life? Take it to God and ask for His help. God grants repentance. And that puts us all on the path to eternal life.
That’s BT Daily. Join us next time.