Repentance begins with a decision to turn around.
Repentance is deliberately turning away from sin and coming to God for redirection.
Repentance gives us a new purpose and determination.
Repentance is the first step in retraining our lives to be godly.
Repentance gives every one of us hope.
The catalyst for me to repent is to accept moral responsibility for my actions and character and want an improvement. I cannot put the blame on others for what I have done, nor can I blame God for my sin. I agree with God’s judgment that I am a responsible, free moral agent.
The Bible says in James 1:14-15,
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
Taking responsibility for my actions rather than blaming others puts me in a position of power over my life because I can change my environment, associations, and other influences. I also know that the renewing of my mind that comes with repentance can dramatically change the way I respond to the things in the world that trigger me to sin. In Luke 15:18, the prodigal son makes the decision to leave the life he created for himself and return to his father’s home. All of us have the power to make that decision. The prodigal stated:
I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you.
All of us have the power to make a decision like this, but we might need assistance to walk it out in order to improve our lives. That’s where we need a supportive group of friends, our church, therapy of some kind, or other resources available to help us walk out our decision to eliminate certain behaviors and live for Christ.
Why? Because we need God’s power and a group of friends to stand with us to follow-through on repentance. Typically, repentance requires us to leave friends who were supportive of sinful activities and develop new friends who are supportive of our repentance. Friends influence the way we think and respond to various influences, which can ultimately change our desires and transform the way we live.
We begin to understand that the appeal of sin is a trap, and that it acts as a snare to grip us and then enslave us.
In Romans 13:12-14 Paul writes,
The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So, remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
As a pastor, I witness repentance all the time. As people walk out their repentance, their desires change—and when their desires change, their lives are changed forever.