How’s your repentance going? Thank God that He is always wanting to cleanse us and empower us to live a holy life.
Instead of rolling with repentance, Christians (and most people) try hard to avoid it. One reason is that repentance is falsely seen as a once and done thing. Many people think that if they ever repented once then that sets them up for life.
Another reason Christians have trouble repenting is that they have been taught that grace makes repentance unnecessary. They falsely believe that grace works like a medieval Catholic indulgence–that it justifies and excuses their sins in advance with no repentance needed.
Still another reason is pride. It’s very humbling to repent. No one enjoys saying “I’m wrong,” “I’m sorry,” or “Please forgive me.” It never easy to choose to go against our pride and to openly admit that we have sinned and/or are engaged in ongoing sin.
Nevertheless, Jesus first message was repentance. So what are the keys to a lifestyle of repentance?
- Surrender: As long as we are holding on to our own will and desires, we’ll be hindered from fully obeying Jesus when He leads us to do something that we don’t want to do. To disobey Jesus is a sin, so we will stay stuck in the sinful cycle of putting our will ahead of God’s will.
- Conviction: Until we are aware of our sins, we can’t repent from them. We need to stay attentive to the Holy Spirit working in and through our conscience and let him convict us of (show us) our sinful attitudes, words, behaviors, and failures to obey.
- Confession: Until we admit our sins to God, we’ll stay stuck in them. The Bible also says to confess your sins to one another. Once we are convicted of a sin it’s important to bring it into the light. As long you’re unwilling to admit a sin to God you haven’t repented of it.
- Contrition: For repentance to be real and effective, it must be from the heart. We must let ourselves be sincerely sorry for our sin and be grieved because of what we’ve said, done, thought, or neglected to do. We must truly want to be forgiven and to change.
- Change: True repentance involves taking decisive action to change a sinful thought, behavior, attitude, or unwillingness to obey. God’s forgiveness is free, but to stop a sin is a choice and a battle. It puts us in a humble position to receive God’s mercy and deliverance. “God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Be humble and courageous enough to continually work on putting off your sins.
- Accountability: Change without accountability is usually temporary. It’s so easy to quit a sin only to return to it in weeks, days, hours, or even minutes. In order to keep on quitting we need to be absolutely honest with someone who can hold us accountable. The first Someone is God. Every time we’re tempted to fall back into a sin, we need to tell God and when we do fall you need to cry out for His forgiveness and help. It also greatly helps to have a person you trust who you can walk in the light with. When you’re tempted tell that person. When you fall confess to that person. That kind of accountability will help you access the power of supernatural repentance.