Why Repentance Is Important In Our Faith Walk by Jim Nelson
Recently, I was reading Psalms 51, David’s wonderful psalm on repentance, it made me think how seriously broken David was of his sin. David clearly understood that his sin dishonored God. This also made me think about our western culture and the very low view we have of sin and of pursuing holiness in our day to day life.
Have you ever heard someone say: If we’re justified by faith and forgiven all of our sins – past, present, and future – then why is it necessary to continue seeking forgiveness? This view is all too common today and indicates a shallow understanding of scripture. The demand to repent is very clear in scripture, it’s important we obey God’s Word. Let’s review what Jesus has to say about repentance;
(Matthew 4:17) From that time Jesus began to preach, saying “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
(Luke 5:32) I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.
(Luke 13:3, 5) Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
After He had risen from the dead Jesus made sure that his apostles would continue the call for repentance throughout the world. (Luke 24:46-47), that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations.
So, you can see Jesus has a lot to say about the need to repent. Jesus explains to us that sin is a big deal, and that we are all sinners in need of repentance. For more, see the following verses; Luke 3:8, Luke 11:4, 2 Corinthians 7:10, and Acts 2:38.
You may be thinking, OK, what is Biblical repentance? The repentance that takes place at conversion begins a progressive, lifelong process of confession. This active, continuous attitude of repentance produces the poverty of spirit, mourning, and meekness Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes, I love this connection. (Matt. 5:3-6). Clearly, repentance is not a one-time act, but, for a follower of Christ, it’s a day to day event.
In 1 John 1:8-10, scripture tells us; if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. What I love about these verses is that God not only commands us to confess our sins, but also promises to forgive us, what grace! Warren Wiersbe’s makes the following comments on these verses; “Sin in the life of the believer breaks the fellowship but does not destroy the sonship.” A true Christian is always accepted even if not acceptable. The Christian who truly understands God’s provision for a life of holiness does not want to deliberately disobey God.
I like the following quote from Oswald Chambers, “Repentance always brings a man to this point: I have sinned. The surest sign that God is at work is when a man says that and means it.” William Law, who lived in England in the 1700’s wrote the following, “Whatever is foolish, ridiculous, vain, or earthly, or sensual, in the life of a Christian is something that ought not to be there. It is a spot and a defilement that must be washed away with the tears of repentance.”
Jesus teaching makes the point that repentance is the inner change that gives rise to a new God-centered, and Christ-exalting behavior. True repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior, of course not a perfect behavior, we rely on Christ for His perfect righteousness. I think of Peter and Judas, they both denied Jesus, yet Peter repented, and became a pillar of the faith. We all know the sad story of Judas.
It’s important to remember that in this life we are and always will be imperfect, a saved sinner, seeking to grow in holiness and relating to God on the basis of grace that is ours because we are “IN-CHRIST”. As believers, we are always complete in Christ, yet we are also in real relationship with God. By analogy, in human relationships we know something of this truth. As a parent, I am in relationship with my children. Because they are my family, they will never be cast out: the relationship is permanent. Yet if they sin against me, or I against them, our relationship is strained and needs to be restored. Our covenant relationship with God works in a similar way.
We should strengthen our loving relationship with our Lord by confessing and repenting of our sins. This actually becomes healing for us and at the same time we glorify our Lord. We should also ask the Lord to open our eyes to sins we do not see, this is a dangerous yet needed prayer. And, believe me, others do see your sins. I’ve been amazed over the years what sins the Lord has pointed out to me that I really did not fully see or understand at first. If you are a parent and married just ask your children and or spouse. (You may want to take a couple of Advil first, Warning, you may get a headache, lol).
I want to encourage you that each day we should have heartfelt repentance for sins that we have committed, and faith in Christ to provide for our needs and to empower us to live the Christian Life in relationship with Him. This level of obedience will bring you great joy and fellowship. Repentance is really what happens inside of us. This change leads to the fruit of our new behavior. In Luke 3:8, Jesus shows us the relationship between repentance and our new behavior.
Your brother in Christ, Jim Nelson