“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’.”
— Matthew 4:17 (NRSV)
Repentance is central to the gospel of God—a pivotal action to take within our faith. We do not get salvation without repentance, just as it is a sign that the Spirit has taken residence within us that we would want to repent.
Until recently I had been deluded in confusion and pride within a significant compartment of my life. For nearly two years I silently played the victim card. Woe was me, even though all along (through retrospect) I felt the gentle nudge of the Spirit goading me to conform in humility. The full process of adjusting to this situation, just to get me to a point of repenting, took two years. Two years God journeyed with me patiently, gracefully accepting my knee-jerk responses, and allowing me room to sputter and gag. But I did eventually repent.
Repentance is often a process that we come to after a long time of reacting immaturely. But repentance is where we need to come to if we are true believers.
The Importance of Repentance
To be in relationship with God we need to turn back to God: we need to repent.
If we cannot repent, we cannot be transformed by the Spirit. If we cannot repent, we cannot grow. And if we cannot repent, we will travel farther and farther from the Presence of God.
It is through repentance that we are renewed and our humility is proven. The precursor to repentance, of course, is true perspective—God’s revelation in our circumstances. When we see the error in our ways, and we make many errors, we are instances away from the gift of God’s grace that revives us spiritually.
If we don’t repent, we stifle the passage of God’s grace into our lives. God cannot be with the proud, with the self-righteous, with those who have nothing to learn. If we don’t repent, we are essentially living unsaved lives. If we don’t repent, it may be that we haven’t nurtured a habit of prayerfully seeking the Lord, and we may be plagued with spiritual blindness.
The Cause-and-Effect Nature of Sin and Repentance
If we had no problem with sin we wouldn’t need to repent.
If we are lovers of truth we believe God when he says, through his Word, that we are sinners—for, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)
Because we are sinners, and we can see that is the truth, we need repentance in order to honour our relationship with God. Secondarily, repentance is our vehicle to restore our relationship with God when we’ve sinned; an action we take in order to feel close to God.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.