We may not like to admit it, but for each of us, sin is a giant problem. Sin inches into our lives, directs our path, guides our decisions, and perverts our perspective. Sin’s pull on us is strong. Daily, we battle sin’s desire to exert dominion over us. Through God’s personal revelation to us, we recognize our fallen nature and determine to change our course by committing our lives to God.
From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17 ESV
Repentance means we walk away from our old behaviors toward a new life marked by a change in our attitude and difference in our actions. When we repent, we seek to live our lives in obedience to God.
Genuine repentance is demonstrated by a visible change in our behavior. We go from doing wrong to doing right.
In the Old Testament we learn repentance was demonstrated in several ways, including:
- Through a public display of mourning over sin, such as weeping (Ezra 10:1)
- By tearing garments and/or hair (Ezra 9:3)
- By wearing sackcloth (Joel 1:13)
- By making restitution for wrongs committed (1 Chronicles 21:22–26)
- Through abasing oneself before the wronged party (Gen 33:3)
Through divine revelation, we see a clearer picture of our present behavior which compels us to be transformed into a right relationship with our Creator. When we repent, we change how we act. In the New Testament, we see the following examples of this new mindset:
- Zacchaeus making restitution for the fraud he committed as part of his occupation (Luke 19:1–10)
- Paul preaching the faith he once tried to destroy (Acts 9:1–28)
- Onesimus, the runaway slave, returning to his master, Philemon, to face the consequences of his actions (Philemon 8–16)
Today, because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary, we can come to repentance by placing our faith and trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. From that point forward, we take a journey that leads to the transforming of our minds, hearts, and souls. As Believers-followers of Jesus—we still battle sin, because sin does not intend to let go of us easily. But being aware of our condition, we turn to God and seek His Wisdom and draw on His Strength to help us through the tough times when temptation knocks loudly at our door. When we take on Christ’s righteousness, we discard our old ways. When we repent, we commit to living a life of faithful obedience to the Lord.