Many people conceal their sins, live in denial, and never confess them. Confession is the first step to repentance, but that alone may not bring any lasting change. Repentance literally means a change of mind resulting in a change of living. We all hold certain attitudes and beliefs toward God and ourselves, and consequently we live a certain way. Then one day we are enlightened by the truth or come under the conviction of sin and we decide to change. If we have truly repented, we have had a change of mind and attitude and therefore no longer live the way we did before. One has not really repented unless they have changed the way they live.

Repentance is turning away from sin toward God, which was the primary message of John the Baptist, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 3:2). Those who responded to his message were baptized. “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with your repentance’” (Matt. 3:7). If repentance is genuine, the result should be a changed life.

It was also the message of the Apostle Paul who wrote, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” (Acts. 26:18). Repentance means you are renouncing sin and false beliefs and turning toward God. The early church would literally face the west and say, “I renounce you Satan and all your works and all your ways.” Then they would face the east and make a public profession of faith.

Genuine repentance is not just a matter of human decision with the idea that we can change or save ourselves from the judgment of God. Paul responded, “Do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance” (Rom. 2:3,4)? God is actually the One who grants “them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:25,26).

Dr. Neil

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