The word conversion, as we use it in religious circles today, usually implies the acceptance of a religious belief system. But the fundamental biblical meaning is "to turn"—usually to turn to God.
This, of course, brings up a crucial question: What do we turn away from when we to turn to God; what do we set aside when we are converted? Or, in different words, why do we need conversion? What separates us from God in the first place?
The prophet Isaiah gives us the answer: "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). The apostle John adds: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves ..." (1 John 1:8).
To receive blessings and other help from God, we must turn to Him—recognizing and turning from our sins.
Jesus commissioned the apostle Paul to go to the gentiles and "open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me" (Acts 26:18).
Christ's instruction to Paul provides us with a brief outline of how converts are added to His spiritual body, "the church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2). Each new convert must turn away from Satan's ways by turning to the ways of God.
Each must accept and respond to God's terms and conditions for the forgiveness of sin.
In this lesson we examine the process by which our lives can be turned to God—the process of conversion. We will learn what Peter meant when he exhorted his countrymen, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out ..." (Acts 3:19). We examine how, beginning with repentance, new converts can turn from a life of sin to become servants of the living God.