Listen:  72 Question 3

What exactly does it mean to repent?  To repent means to think differently, to reconsider, or to turn around.  One has said that to repent means to take God’s side against yourself.  Repentance is necessary for salvation.  Unless we realize our sinfulness and repent of those sins, we will never come to the Lord and accept Him as our savior.  Until we see the need of a savior, we will not seek a savior.  Some today speak of a bloodless savior; not one who died a horrific, sacrificial death to pay our tremendous sin debt, but one who loves us and wants to give us a better life.  Some speak of how much our life can be improved if we take Jesus into our hearts, without mentioning our guilt before God.  1 John 4:8 tells us that, “…God is love.”  But, we also learn about God in Habakkuk 1:13 which tells us, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…”  Listen to the words of the Lord in Ezekiel 7:8, “Now will I shortly pour out my fury upon thee, and accomplish mine anger upon thee: and I will judge thee according to thy ways, and will recompense thee for all thine abominations.”

Can this angry and furious God be a God of love?  Oh yes, He is absolutely a God of love.  God loves the sinner.  In fact, it was for the wretched sinner that the Lord sent His Son to die.  1 Timothy 1:15 says, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…”  Yes, God loves the sinner, but He hates the sin, and as a righteous God, He must and He will judge all those who do not repent of their sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior.  I am afraid of those who speak of the love of God without speaking of the righteousness of God.  I’m afraid they will lead many precious souls away from the truth of salvation in Christ Jesus.

For those who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their savior, we are instructed in God’s Word to confess when we sin.  Of course, to confess means that we have repented and are seeking the Lord’s forgiveness.  1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Notice here that the Word does not tell us to ask for forgiveness.  Forgiveness is assured when we confess our sins.  The Lord wants us to confess, or acknowledge to Him our sins.  This means that He wants us to put into words to Him exactly what we have done.  This can be pretty distasteful, but this is what the Lord requires.  Speaking to the Lord of our awful deeds will often make us think before doing it again.  It is shameful to have to tell the Lord some of the sins we have committed.  Our sins should shame us and our desire should be that we do not dishonor our Lord and Savior by living in sin.  Once we have confessed our sins, we are told that the Lord will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Once we are cleansed, there is no need to ever bring this sin before the Lord again.  Of course, if we commit this sin again, then we need to confess it afresh to receive His cleansing in a practical sense.

Let’s read Luke 17:3-4, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”  Here, the Lord is teaching us about the necessity to forgive one another, even if someone sins against us seven times in one day.  If there is repentance, there should be forgiveness.  Certainly, the Lord does not expect us to do something that He will not do.  We can rest assured that when we confess our sins, the Lord forgives those sins.  No matter how many times we sin, the Lord will forgive when we repent and confess our sins to Him.

Of course, we should never become complacent about our sins.  God hates sin and we should seek by the power of God to avoid sin.  We, as the children of God, need to hate sin as much as the Lord hates it.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”  While we may have the calming assurance that our sins are forgiven, let us not live in sin any longer.