This week we are continuing our discussion of the Easter Story by focusing on repentance. What is true repentance? It is the activity of reviewing one's actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to and actual actions that show and prove a change for the better.
Saying, “Sorry,” being sorry, or even feeling sorry are not the same as repenting. A person can feel emotionally sorry for something without addressing the underlying issue. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Judas felt great remorse over what he had done to Jesus, but he did not repent. Instead, he committed suicide (Matthew 27:3–5). Peter also felt great remorse over his denial of Christ (Matthew 26:75), but in his case it did result in genuine repentance and a change of direction, as later he boldly proclaimed Christ in the face of persecution (see Acts 4).
The first sin occurred when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. At this point, death ended the world and blood was required to atone for man's sin.
The designation “Lamb of God” reflects back to the time when Israel was delivered from ancient Egypt under the direction of Moses. Before the 10th plague—the death of the firstborn—Israelite families were instructed to kill a lamb and brush some of its blood on the top and sides of the door frames of their dwellings. The lamb that was slain for this purpose was called the Passover lamb, and the observance of this ceremony was known as the Passover.
During that first Passover in Egypt, God was willing to accept the blood of the Passover lamb on the door frames of the Israelites’ dwellings in place of the blood of their firstborn. The firstborn of Israelites who rejected the blood of the lamb would not have been spared from death. The blood of this lamb thus enabled the Israelites to escape the penalty that was coming upon the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:21-24).
Passover was to become an annual observance in Israel so that they would remember how God delivered them from death. Of course, the experiences of ancient Israel all looked forward to even more important spiritual lessons for Christians (1 Corinthians 10:11). Jesus Christ became the Passover Lamb for the Christian Church. The apostle Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
Jesus Christ is the propitiation or atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have no forgiveness. But why would one Man have to give His life in order for us to be forgiven? In order to see why, we have to first go back to the book of Genesis.
The gospel contains information about how humanity can be forgiven, once again walk with God on a daily basis, and receive the promise of life after physical death.
The apostle Paul explains that the foundation of the Christian message is one of reconciliation. He states in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”
God enabled the breach to be healed through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It was God’s love for us that moved Him to offer His own Son for mankind (John 3:16). The entire thrust of the Christian Church and ministry is about this reconciliation. But how was this accomplished and why did Jesus have to die such a terrible death?
The plan for human salvation is God’s. The method that He chose for the removal—forgiveness—of our sins was that a member of the God family—the Word who became flesh (John 1:1-2, 14)—would come to earth as the human being Jesus Christ and die for our sins. Paul expresses this profound act of mercy in Philippians 2:5-8.
Bible Scripture: Acts 3:19 - Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Faith Application: Commit to praying every day this week and fasting one day a week. Pray when you want. Remember, you may not pray an hour a day but don't let an hour go by without communicating with God. On your fast day, fast whatever you feel, but let it be a sacrifice; let it be from the heart. Fastsomethingthat has become an idol in your life and takes up your time and your energy in place of moments with God.
Prayer Focus: Lord, this week I want to take the time to thank You for Your sacrifice and all you endured for our salvation. By your shed blood, I can be redeemed. Lord, I come to you today, seeking repentance. Not as just an apology, but as a true heartfelt commitment to turn from those things that are wicked in your sight. Reveal to me those thoughts and words and actions that are not pleasing to you. Help me to rid my life of anything that will hinder my salvation. Let me life be pleasing to you. Thank you for your sacrifice that allows my sin to be covered by your blood and my heart to be cleansed so that I may commit my life to living for you and you alone.
Family Activity: Put repentance into practice! This video is a GREAT activity explaining how Jesus wipes out sin through repentance. You can simply share the video or set up the experiment in your own home. Directions are in the video description. Here's a great article from Crosswalk.com.
What Are the Steps to Truly Repent?
Repentance is powerful. It’s a spiritual weapon against temptation. When the devil brings a temptation of something we’ve repented for, we can declare with conviction, “I’ve repented of that. “God healed me, and I won’t go back to it.”
How can one repent for something when there’s no godly sorrow? Without godly sorrow, there won’t be a changed mind, and we’ll commit the same sin over and over again.
Repentance is a serious business and should be entered into gravely, with a sincere heart. You should be seeking a renewed heart and mind.
The Holy Spirit strengthens us and helps us through the repentance process. But before we can repent, we must acknowledge we are wrong, that we are sinners. To repent, we must:
Before we can repent, 2 Corinthians 7 teaches we must have godly sorrow. Thus, step one to truly repenting is to experience godly sorrow, grief over our sin. Our sin must become a burden, a weight, we no longer desire to carry. We must see it’s repugnant, a stench in God’s nostrils. Godly sorrow leads to us viewing sin the way God does.
We must then confess our sin before God because he is “...faithful and just to forgive us of our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can also confess our faults to a trusted friend or spiritual advisor (see James 5:16) so that we can be healed.
When we have godly sorrow and confess our sin, we can then repent. Again, repentance is turning our backs on sin. Repentance is stopping whatever we’re doing that isn’t pleasing in God’s sight. Repentance is choosing God’s way instead of our flesh. Regardless of what sin(s) you’ve committed, you can repent right now, if you have godly sorrow for it. You don’t have to wait until the next time you go to church to repent.
The last step in repentance is choosing holiness every day. Just because we repent doesn’t mean the temptation to sin won’t arise again in our lives. Thus, we have to choose holiness and righteousness daily.
When I repented of my sin, I intentionally decided to walk in holiness daily. That decision required that I change who I saw, where I went, who I invited into my home, the music to which I listened, and the movies I watched. I had to guard my heart, my eyes, my ears, and my mind every day. You may have to do the same.
A Prayer of Repentance You Can Pray: Praying through Psalm 51