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The word “repent” means a “change of mind.” For a sinner to “repent properly,” one must “change their mind about sin.” One has said that to repent is to “take God’s side against yourself.” God tells us in His Word, through the Psalmist David, that we were born in sin. Psalm 51:5 reads “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” God also declares in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” And because we were born sinners and have committed sins, God’s holiness demands that we die, as we see in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death” If we truly repent, we will take God’s side against ourselves by admitting that these statements are true. We will, with humble hearts, agree with God that we are sinners and that we deserve to be judged for our sins. We won’t try to justify our sin or make excuses for it. In fact, one that truly repents comes to “hate the sin he once loved!” Job illustrates this hatred of sin, for when he came into the presence of God and realized his sinful condition he cried out, in Job 42:6, “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” The sinner who has this “change of mind” about their sin will realize that only through God’s mercy can they be spared from the judgment they deserve. We see this expressed clearly in the case of a tax collector who repented in Luke 18:13. That verse says, “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” I understand that it should actually read, “God be merciful to me THE sinner.” He wasn’t thinking of how others had sinned; he was facing the reality of his sin as if he were the only sinner on earth! What a radical, yet necessary “change of mind” he had about sin. The next verse informs us that God did indeed have mercy on him, for verse 14 reads, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

It is an amazing and wonderful truth that the sinner who truly repents will, by God’s mercy, be saved and have eternal life. In Acts 11:4-17 we see the apostle Peter rehearsing, to his fellow-Jews, the account of his preaching the gospel to a house full of Gentiles and how they believed the gospel and were saved. Verse 18 tells us their reaction to Peter’s story, “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” God had granted them “repentance unto life.” Let those words sink into our hearts. If God has worked in the heart of a sinner and brought them to “change their mind about sin,” confessing themselves a lost sinner in need of salvation, He will most surely relieve their sin-burdened hearts by revealing to them the good news of His Son dying for their sins. The Gentiles who had repented at the preaching of Peter heard these marvelous words of grace in Acts 10:43, “To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” The next verse gives us the finishing touch, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.’ By believing on Christ they received, in a moment of time, forgiveness, salvation and eternal life! God had granted them “repentance unto life.”

If you have never repented, we would plead with you to take your place before God as the sinner you are. The apostle Paul preached, in Acts 20:21, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” “Repentance toward God” is coming into God’s presence and like the publican confessing to Him that you are a sinner and that only His mercy can save you. This “change of mind about your sin” will then prepare you to receive the good news of Jesus Christ and to exercise “faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” The gospel will then make perfect sense to you, for you will see that the only way God could save you and give to you eternal life was by sending His Son to the cross to take your place in death and judgment for your sins. You will then rejoice in the truth of 1 Timothy 1:15, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” You will have owned up to the fact that you are a sinner, and you will now see that your being a sinner is your claim to God’s salvation! Christ, the Savior of sinners, will become the object of your faith and you’ll praise God every day for granting you “repentance unto life!”  (136.1)  (DO)