When Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses he placed as number one that “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Repentance was the main message that John had for the people of his day and for us.
Matthew 3:2 – John the Baptist taught, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
Well, in order for us to become women who are repenters we need to know what it is and how to do it.
What is repentance?
James P. Boyce’s Brief Catechism of Bible Doctrine (1886) gives a simple and accurate definition. “Repentance is sorrow for sin, accompanied by a determination, with the help of God, to sin no more.”
Repentance therefore is more than a feeling of guilt, and more than simply doing better. It is a profound redirection of the heart involving a true understanding of sin, a deep feeling of godly sorrow, an owning and confessing of our guilt, a hatred of what we have done, and a turning away from unrighteousness toward Jesus Christ. Let’s take a closer look at all of this.
Some things are painful to look at. This is one of them. We need to take a careful look at our words, actions and hearts. If you are a sinner like me, you will find a lot of ugliness. The Christian only begins to see his or her sins through the truth of God’s word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Heb. 4:12; John 16:8).
Once we truly see our sin we will feel sorrow. This is not the superficial sadness of merely getting caught. It is a “holy agony” (Thomas Watson) of the soul. The Bible calls it a broken heart (Ps, 51:17). Speaking to God, David says in Psalm 51:4 “against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,”. David stole another man’s wife and then planned and carried out his murder. He is now broken over this horrific sin and basically says despite the people I have wronged, ultimately it is God whom I have sinned against and David is broken over this truth. This goes for us as well. When we bark at our kids, speak disrespectfully to our spouse, waste our money or neglect our bodies we are sinning against God.
Repentance always includes a sincere and remorseful confession of the wrong that we have spoken, acted, or even thought. Sometimes it means confessing it to others. Perhaps to a child whom we have sinned against or a friend whom we have hurt. But it always means confessing our sins to God. Confession glorifies God (Josh. 7:19) humbles us, and makes us more dependent on Jesus. Confessions is a means in which our hearts are softened.
Seeing, grieving over, and confessing our sin should move us to hate it (Zech. 3:4-5; Ps.119:104). We should hate it as it grieves the Lord and damages our lives. Sin is a satanic destroyer that brings ruin to man and creation. The only feeling appropriate to have concerning sin is holy hatred. (1 John 3:8).
Lastly we must turn away from our sin and instead turn towards God (Acts 26:20). Turning away from sin isn’t merely the renunciation of a bad habit, but a rejection of evil and a return toward God and his grace.
Repentance does not make a woman perfect. You will never perfectly repent this side of heaven. It will be an ongoing, daily activity for us because we remain sinners in need of daily mercy. Repentance does not save us because we are already saved. But it does liberate us from the tyranny of self.
One thing to remember is that repentance is not a way to manipulate God into blessing you and giving you what you want. It is not a way to earn favor with God or a way to make him “happy” with you. You can’t manipulate God into being good. He already is good, he already loves you more then you can imagine and he always blesses his people.
I have found Thomas Watson’s famous treatise on Repentance to be one of the most helpful guides through this important doctrine.
Looking To Jesus,