We often hear about the power of forgiveness, and it does indeed have great power. Forgiveness frees us from the chains of bitterness that would bind us in self-pity, anger, hatred, and self-righteousness.
Although forgiveness and repentance go hand-in-hand, we don’t hear as much about the power of repentance. And yet without it, forgiveness remains a one way street. Repentance has the power to reconcile relationships and keep our lives an unclogged offering to God for his spirit to freely flow through us as we serve him.
What is Repentance?
Repentance simply means to change your mind…to have a change of heart, by agreeing with God about your sin. To see your sin the way he sees it.
You see, we are naturally narcissists when it comes to our sin. We are in love with ourselves, placing our own interests above others. We pursue gratification of our own wants and desires without regard for how it affects others. We don’t see our sin how God sees it, thinking instead that we’re better than others on a sliding scale of comparison.
However, God says we are all sinners compared to the only scale that matters – his holiness. The call of the gospel is to repent: to see our sin as God sees it, to humble ourselves, and to acknowledge our need for a Savior. It is not only a call, it is a command for the nations (Acts 17:30).
The Purpose of Repentance
The purpose of repentance is two-fold: to be reconciled with God unto salvation, and to be reconciled with one another as we seek unity in the body of Christ.
We are reconciled to God when we…
- change our minds about who God is – the Holy and Righteous One to whom we are accountable
- change our minds about who we are – sinners who deserve punishment for our sin
- change our minds about who Jesus is – the only one who can save us from the penalty of sin
When we change our minds and agree with God about our sin, our hearts are broken at what it cost him to rescue us from it. We gratefully receive the covering he has provided through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross: the great exchange, our sin for His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Repentance begins the process of reconciliation with others when we…
- ask God to search us and reveal our sin (Psalm 139:23-24)
- change our minds about how our sin affects others (2 Samuel 24:17)
- accept responsibility for what we have done (2 Samuel 24:10)
- go to those we have wronged and ask for forgiveness (Luke 17:3-4)
The Promises of Repentance
God makes the following promises to those who repent, promises that affect us both for eternity and in the way we live our lives on planet earth:
- Forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
- Salvation (2 Cor. 7:10) and eternal life (Acts 11:18)
- A clear conscience (2 Cor. 7:10)
- Times of refreshing (Acts 3:19)
- Knowledge of truth (2 Timothy 2:25)
- Effective ministry (Jeremiah 15:9)
The Product (Fruit) of Repentance (Luke 3:8)
How do you know someone is demonstrating true repentance?
- Faith in the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:15, Acts 20:21, 1 Cor. 15:3-4)
- A changed heart resulting in conduct (Acts 26:20) born out of the Spirit bearing fruit in one’s life (Galatians 5:22-25)
- Concern for others that changes the way we treat others (Philippians 2:3-4)
The Power of Repentance
Where does the power of repentance come from? How do we bear the fruits of repentance? The power of repentance is the power of the Holy Spirit changing our lives, releasing us from the power of sin (Romans 8:13) and enabling us to choose God’s way instead of our way.
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
In what area of your life do you refuse to apply the message of repentance? Where do you need to change your mind about your sin? From whom do you need to ask forgiveness?
If someone has sinned against you, do you have an attitude of forgiveness towards them, one in which you can maintain a gracious attitude towards the other person because God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32)? Are you prepared to grant them forgiveness should they come to you in repentance?
It’s never too late – what will you change your mind about today?