A lifestyle of repentance is a vital spiritual discipline for the thriving Christian. Without it, our flesh remains prideful. It is what we do with our sin that makes all the difference. If we hide our sin and defend ourselves, making excuses for our behavior, God cannot help us. Hidden sin has to be exposed—preferably by the one sinning.
Exposed sin needs to lead us to godly sorrow, which opens the door to true repentance. Godly sorrow is the grief we experience when we realize we have sinned against God Himself, this truth is illustrated in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
The sorrow the world has to offer leads to death because it has nothing to do with true repentance; therefore, no changes are made. Worldly sorrow cheaply spits the words “I’m sorry” out of its mouth, desperately trying to relieve its own conscience. It is all about self, with no real regard for God or those it has hurt and wounded, which is why it leads to death.
Oswald Chambers says it in this manner,
Repentance always brings a person to the point of saying, “I have sinned.” The surest sign that God is at work in his life is when he says that and means it. Anything less is simply sorrow for having made foolish mistakes—a reflex action caused by self-disgust.
True repentance is a lethal weapon to be exercised daily. It births us into a healthy lifelong change. Repentance is not just acknowledging and confessing our sin, but the starting point of turning away from sin, as indicated in Acts 3:19.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Casual Christians treat repentance as if it were the cold ocean where they just tiptoe at the shore. If we seriously want to be healed and live in a deeper relationship with God, than we cannot afford to be casual or to dabble. True repentance has to become our lifestyle.
It has to become our lifestyle because sin happens daily. When we ask Christ to be our savior He wipes away all our past sins. It would be great if at that point we stopped sinning all together, but that’s not the way it is.
There are sins of omission and sins of commission. There are heart attitudes that have to be dealt with daily, as well as issues that we are in the process of overcoming. We never arrive to perfection but are a work in progress.
A lifestyle of repentance is not meant to make us feel like losers, but to assist us in moving forward—in the way of sanctification.
One aspect of true repentance is that it can change our pallet for sin. Sin becomes distasteful when true repentance is taken in and savored—mainly because we recognize how our sin has separated us from God.
Another truth about repentance is that it kills pride in us. Isaiah 57:15 says,
I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.
God dwells with those who are contrite and humble. Pride is a major enemy to a lifestyle of true repentance.
It’s also important to realize that the grace of God is what leads us to repentance and it comes by way of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, as stated in Romans 2:4
Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness [grace] of God leads you to repentance?
When we repent and ask for forgiveness, God takes our sin and remembers it no more, as clearly specified in Psalm 103:12
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Please do not keep reminding Him of it, simply shut the mouth of the devil and be led by the Holy Spirit.
In Romans 8:1, Paul writes,
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
If we live in the Spirit and not the flesh there is no condemnation or guilt. One way to know if we are operating in true repentance is to check our condemnation and guilt level. True repentance sets us free with no regret. True repentance also wipes out our sin and lifts our burden, allowing God’s refreshing to come to us. The enemy of our soul will try to convince us we’re not forgiven, set free, healed or delivered. He will attempt to heap shame on us, but we have to remember; if we sincerely repent, turn and operate in Godly sorrow, God forgives us. End of story. Our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west.
Essentially true repentance is priceless—it brings times of refreshing (Acts 3:19) that allow us to draw closer to God—who wouldn’t want that?
Please be encouraged to welcome godly conviction in your life and to live a lifestyle of true repentance. You won’t regret it.
The contents of this blog was taken from my book Thirsty Heart.