The Bible says that all have sinned (Romans 3:23) and to be forgiven we need to repent. What does it mean to repent? The word rendered repent in the Old Testament comes from a Hebrew word meaning to turn back or away from, not necessarily with the idea of return to the starting point. The New Testament Greek word means to think differently, to reconsider, to feel compunction (regret). So we are told that we must turn away from something we regret having practiced and think differently about it, meaning that it is something we will never willfully approach again. That something is sin. Sin is identified by the law (Romans 7:7), and therefore any violation of Godís law is sin (1 John 3:4). Sin is a wall between us and a loving God who abhors sin because itís a failure to obey Him and that makes it a barrier that will prevent our entry into His Kingdom and life in the presence of His son, Jesus. The only other destiny that awaits us is eternal separation from God.
The initial step toward repentance is to realize that we are in a lost state, unconverted to the Christian Way of Life. The unconverted life is filled with evil thoughts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, pride, foolishness, things that defile a person (Mark 7:21-23). This is because in the unconverted, unrepentant life the flesh rules, and the works of the flesh are not centered on things spiritual, but on things selfish and rebellious (Galatians 5:19-20). The carnal mind (the mind of the flesh) is the enemy of God because it is not subject to the law of God, in fact it is unable to be so (Romans 8:7) because the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). Even those who seem to be good, decent people, if they have not subjected themselves to obedience to Christ, are in the unconverted state. Righteousness is not enough to save you, for manís righteousness compared to Godís is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) because His thoughts and ways are so much higher than manís (Isaiah 55:8-9). There may be a way in the mind of man that seems good enough, but without repentance there will be no eternal life for him (Proverbs 14:12).
By this time it should be abundantly clear that no matter how good we think we are, we are not good enough! (Matthew 7:21). Realizing how inadequate we really are compared to Godís goodness (Job 42:6) and that our ways, from Godís perspective, are evil and not good, we should loathe ourselves (Ezekiel 36:31). We must repent for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). First, try to understand that God wants the sinner to repent, it is His divine desire that all men repent, and if they do, He will keep His promise and give them eternal life (Ezekiel 18:21); (2 Peter 3:9). Second, if you ignore the teaching of one explaining the need to repent, you hurt no one but yourself (Ezekiel 33:9; 18:20) because it will be intolerable in the Day of Judgment for the unrepentant (Luke 10:13-15). Third, you should obey God (Acts 5:29). It is the wisest course. Once one has comprehended the need for repentance by realizing their lost state and the cost of remaining so, the question arises, What must I do to repent? It's not complicated. Admit that you have sinned, understand that it is against the LORD God because you have not obeyed Him, (Jeremiah 3:13) and pray much in the same way as David, King of Israel, prayed in Psalm 51:2-4:
Wash me thoroughly from mine
iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Sincerely expressed, this plea for mercy will be heard. Casting aside oneĎs pride and trusting in His mercy is the attitude that God wants to see (Isaiah 66:2). Rejoice, the deep sorrow for your sins leads to salvation but the sorrow of the world ends in death (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Your joy is in good company, because the angels will express joy with you (Luke 15:10) for now the Spirit of God dwells in you and you are His (Romans 8:9).
FOR FURTHER STUDY:
Romans 1:28-32 Those who do not retain God in their knowledge are worthy of death.
Romans 3:10-18 There is not one righteous.
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