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Repentance can be a heavy topic.
It can stir up many emotions and reactions, largely leaning on the negative side. Despite its reputation, I invite you to reconsider what repentance is. It’s actually a beautiful word that helps us change our hearts and minds.
It means making a U-turn, which steers us in the direction of renewal to our lives.
Today’s article is centered around helping you understand the power of repentance.
A prayer before we begin: Lord, today, as we open our hearts wide to you, we ask that you perform heart surgery on each of us as you see fit, so that we can be able to be the kinds of people you’ve called us to become. I ask you these things in Christ’s name, Amen.
What does it mean to be renewed?
The definition of renew is: to grow up, to sprout, to begin again.
Imagine it is springtime. A beautiful moment during this season is when birds start to chirp and sing. It’s also awe-inducing when flowers poke their heads above the ground and display their beauty.
This is a picture of renewal.
When you experience renewal, something is transformed inside of you. You bloom anew. The song of your life sounds different. Renewal makes your relationship with God exciting and passionate again.
But to get to renewal, you must first go through repentance.
Acts 3:19 (The Passion Translation): “And now you must repent and turn back to God so that your sins will be removed, and so that times of refreshing will stream from the Lord’s presence.” See here God’s big-heartedness towards us.
God says, “If you want to experience renewal, where times are refreshing, it happens when you practice repentance.” Repentance is a game-changer.
The Greek word for repentance is metanoia. It means to turn around. It’s as if you are going north, then suddenly realize it’s the wrong moral direction, and you repent to go south. You totally shift where you’re headed.
Author and pastor Bruce Wilkinson puts it this way: “Repentance means you change your mind so deeply that it changes you.
Are you hungry for renewal?
It starts with repentance.
Let’s look at what it means to repent and why normative Christianity is passionate Christianity. You cannot be a Biblical believer and be bored with God. You can’t be someone who walks with Jesus and be apathetic. God calls us to be fiery servants and have fiery faith. That’s why repentance is a game-changer.
The Book of Psalms was written by David, who is also known as Israel’s Psalmist. He was also the King of Israel and a warrior.
Despite his status and accomplishments, however, David fell into hard times.
Why? He made the wrong moral choices. He had an affair with a married woman by the name of Bathsheba. She became pregnant with his child, while her husband, Uriah, was at war fighting against the Ammonites.
Then David tried to cover up his sin, so he had Uriah brought back home from war. He got Uriah drunk twice, hoping that in his drunken state, he’d go home and have relations with his wife. However, Uriah wouldn’t do it. He stayed right outside of the palace all night. David then sent Uriah back to war and he made sure that the Ammonites killed him. After that, Bathsheba grieved for the loss of her husband, and
David soon married her.
This scandal was a big deal and deeply damaging against the character of God because David was supposed to be a man of God. Then here was David in a dry, disillusioned and backslidden state, and Nathan, the prophet, visited him. He skillfully confronted him, causing David to repent and pour out his heart to God, asking for forgiveness.
We see this moment here: Psalm 51:1-4 (NIV): “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”
I admire David, not because he sinned, but because he repented authentically and truthfully before God. I admire him because he did what was necessary to get right with God. As a result, he was on his way to renewal.
This is where God wants you to be too. So, how do you get renewed?
Scripture teaches us that repentance precedes renewal. There may have been something that made you dry. Maybe your spiritual temperature has dropped because you missed time with God or became distracted. Or maybe, like David, it was sin. Whatever the reason, whatever caused your heart to change, I want you to know it’s not God’s will that you stay dry.
It’s God’s will that you get renewed.
Do you need to repent?
This question is a call to search your heart. It challenges you to reflect: “Is there a problem between you and God?”
Has God whispered to you?
Has He nudged you or prompted you in some way?
Has he made you realize that there’s some sin in your life that you’ve not dealt with?
The question “Do I need to repent?” invites us to investigate and interrogate our hearts. When we do this, we can look over our past actions and our past attitudes to ask ourselves this question:
Am I right with God?
Is there something in your life creating a problem between you and God? If there is, then you’re going to need to repent. Sin hardens our hearts, makes our conscience callous and creates a divide between us and God. Repentance bridges that gap.
Have you ever asked God the question, “God, have I done something to I violate your moral code or your standard?” If not, try it. I suggest you go there with God because sin will make the Christian walk tiring, taxing and tough. But that’s not what God had in mind for us. There should be passion, zeal and enthusiasm as you walk with God. Conversely, if you’re serving God and feel dry, apathetic and devoid of zeal, it means something’s wrong.
When you sin against God the relationship on the human side has been harmed. There’s a break in the fellowship between you and God. Please know God’s love and care for you hasn’t changed. His kindness towards you is also still the same, but your sin hardened and harmed your relationship with the Lord.
So, again I ask you: Do you need to repent?
Next, allow me to ask you this:
Have you FULLY repented?
Full repentance happens through a comprehensive inspection of the heart. It happens by cleaning out the junk that’s in your heart.
Going back to the Bible story mentioned earlier, David was excellent when it came to repenting and repentance.
Remember the meaning of repentance—to turn around. It’s when you repent so deeply that it changes you. You then get back to the place of cleanliness, purity and right-standing before God.
This takes a process. You don’t just say “I repent.” David couldn’t just say, “I repent.” He had a man killed and had gotten a woman pregnant who wasn’t his wife. He not only deceived the nation, but also himself. We see in Scripture (2 Samuel 11) that in the nine months Bathsheba was pregnant, David never repented. Then, the baby was born and the child died. We can then conclude that it was almost a year before David made his relationship with God right.
So again, it’s important to know repentance is a process.
Here are the four stages of repentance:
Stage 1: You realize that you’ve done wrong.
Stage 2: There are feelings of remorse about your sin.
Stage 3: You renounce your sin or turn away from it.
Stage 4: You’re restored. That’s when repentance takes place.
Let’s apply this to David. In Stage 1: David realized he was going in the wrong direction. In Stage 2: David had remorse for his sin. In Stage 3: David renounces his sin. In Psalm 51:1-2 (NIV), it says, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me of my sin.” Finally, in Stage 4: David is restored.
Early Church Father, John Chrysostom, captures the heart of repentance like this: “Repentance is a medicine which destroys sin, a gift bestowed from heaven, an admirable virtue, a grace exceeding the power of laws.”
When you repent it’s as if God has dispensed His medicine into your soul. The dryness you were feeling in your heart vanishes and the fire of passion is rekindled. Repentance is a game-changer, and it brings healing to you.
I’ve repented, NOW WHAT?
What should you expect after you repent?
David has the answer. Psalm 51:12-13 (NIV) says, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.” I want you to see that when you repent, God restores you. The joy of your salvation and walking with Jesus will be passionate again. You will be renewed and refreshed in your relationship with God.
Don’t miss how David also said, “One of the signs that I’ve repented is that I want to teach transgressors your ways, God.” Your burden for lost souls is one of the greatest indicators of you being renewed. So you see here that being renewed is not just about you. David essentially says, “I now feel the burden for those who don’t know you.” Let that value soak in.
Another verse that sums up repentance can be found in Acts 3:19 (NIV), where it says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
You now have a Biblical basis for expecting refreshing and renewal. You have a guide to grow in passion. You have an effective tool to experience the fire of the Holy Spirit. And you have a pathway for a zeal for the Lord. Your basis, your guide, your effective tool and pathway is repentance.
One of the schools I graduated from was Alliance Theological Seminary. Long before I attended, in 1906, when it was called Nyack Missionary Training Institute, a revival broke out. Interestingly, it all started because someone publicly confessed their sins.
Here is an account of the revival: “For three weeks, preachers, teachers, and students were lying on their faces. Awful confessions were made. It began at 12 o’clock noon and went on until the next morning. God had struck with mighty conviction. Some tried to escape because they didn’t want to confess, but they had to return and go through with it. I declare unto you that when the confessions were over, the mighty presence of God filled the place. We walked on tiptoe. The atmosphere was so holy. We were afraid to hear the sound of our heels in that school. If you ever heard thunder rolls of intercession, they went forth from that school. You could have heard the body of students a mile away. They prayed as one man and everybody as loudly as possible, but they knew God was behind those prayers.”
When the students confessed their sins before God and cried out to God in prayer, not only did they experience renewal, it led to revival.
Again, I ask you:
Do you need to repent?
Have you repented fully?
What can you expect?
Let’s close with this prayer: Heavenly Father, I want to experience renewal and times of refreshing. I want the Holy Spirit to visit me in a brand-new way and transform me. So I confess my sins before you now. And I ask you to forgive me for each one. God, may this begin a series of times of confession and repentance until I experience personal renewal. This I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen