At the age of 21 I walked back into church, answered an altar call and rededicated my life to Christ. In a moment I felt peace and joy and that one decision changed the course of my life.
Jesus desires everyone to be in relationship with Him. But what I have learnt in the 14 years that I have now been in relationship with Christ is that repentance is not a once off event, instead it must become a way of life.
The bible explains true repentance as turning 180 degrees towards God. It involves acknowledging our need for a Saviour, confession to God, transparency, and forgiveness of one sin.
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness” (1 John Chapter 1, verse 9).
If we do not repent even on a continual basis, then we are claiming to be without sin and essentially deceiving ourselves.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans chapter 3, chapter 23).
Because He can and will rewrite the script of your life.
The fruit of living a repented life far outweighs the destruction of not.
True repentance brings freedom to us, our family, and others. False or fake repentance only leads to harm and often further wrongdoing or ill thinking. Cover up only leads to more shame, guilt, and destruction.
He desires to create in us a clean heart and a right spirit.
When do we need to repent?
When we have sinned.
“For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark chapter 7, verses 21-23).
God wants us to HATE evil because like Mark writes - evil things come from within and they actually defile a person.
What happens when we repent?
The most powerful and beautiful thing about repentance is that when we repent, old things pass away, and all things become new.
“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians Chapter 5, verse 17).
When we turn from our ways, our wrong doings, and turn towards God he replaces the old with new. True repentance of heart should change the way we live and think, becoming more like Christ.
For He promises that when we do repent, He will remember our sins no more. David writes in Psalm chapter 103, verse 12 that
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
And if he remembers our sins no more, that means that we shouldn’t continue to feel guilty and shameful for our own wrongdoings, or those of others.
Repentance begins by being honest with God and ourselves.
God always cares most about the heart.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties.
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm chapter 139, verses 23-24).
Elise Pappas is a Pastor and together with her husband pastor a church on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Sophie. Elise is a former clinical drug trial research coordinator and business owner. She writes about life and ministry experiences.