Repent in the Old Testament means we turn back to God, but in the New Testament it means we change our mind toward God. (See Definition)
James 4:17 “Any one, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.”
Sin means we miss the mark and the mark we must hit to not be in sin is God. If we are not in line with God's will then we sin. To end sin is to be aligned with God's will and character.
Repent: like going to a doctor for help and then of course doing what the doctor says. The doctor says, "quite smoking, exercise, eat right, lower stress, sleep 8 hours, do stretching, limit sun exposure, and drink more water." But do we follow what the doctor says? Are we honest with the doctor about what we do, how much we drink, smoke, and eat? We could be so much healthier if we did. Yet is our health that important?
The obese patient comes up with a reason to continue in their behavior just like the smoker, the diabetic who will not follow the eating plan, the anorexic, the skin cancer patient will not use sunscreen every time, the pain medication seeker, the alcoholic, the workaholic lacking sleep and increasing in stress, and the list goes on and on. If we thoroughly examined ourselves to see where we made unhealthy choices we could be enlightened to see who we really are and what we really follow. Do we want to know? Are we ready to be better?
For the purpose of our spiritual conditioning our doctor is God. We are called to be forgiving, merciful, compassionate, patient, kind, caring, and humble. Having a heart of judgement, arrogance, self-righteousness, and living in selfish ambition is poison to our spiritual condition. We ought to watch for fear, resentment, anger, condemnation, argument, fault finding, and anything which inflates our pride or ego. God opposes the proud. God wants us to serve in reverence, humility, meekness, with all our mind, heart, soul, and strength. This requires us to progressively think and act more and more as we change to accommodate Godly character throughout our being.
God offers grace, but we don't have to receive it. We don't have to accept it. We don't have to live in it. Like the example above with the doctor where the doctor offers a path to improve health we do not have to live it out. We can choose destruction. We can choose to live unhealthy. We have a choice. We receive grace through faith. Faith without deeds is dead. If we really believe in God then we have faith in God and if we have faith in God then we will increasingly follow God's design for living, not perfectly because no one is perfect, but increasingly because we can always improve in the way of love. The first step is denying our selfish thoughts and practices.
James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
Romans 4:16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.
Repent from sin is to move toward God
To confess and repent is a cleansing process which can provide humility, a necessary attribute for spiritual understanding. Learning more about our faults and failures can humble and help us see how we need God's help. Some may suffer from a sense of hopelessness, who understand themselves as failures and are convinced God has no interest in them. We ought to keep in mind that God is in us all. Belief that God has no interest, given up, or has turned on us is not true. It is a lie which imprisons ourselves away from God's grace. Believing in that lie is following the devil because the devil is lies. And some of us will sadly take that route. We all ought to be willing to turn to God's truth, God's character, principles, mercy, forgiveness, justice, compassion, and love.
Everyone is called into repentance
Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.
Hosea 6:1 [ A Call to Repentance ] Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
Joel 2:12 [ A Call to Repentance ] “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”
Amos 5:4 [ A Call to Repentance ] For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live;
Isaiah 59:20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord.
Matthew 3:2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Matthew 4:17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 11:20 [ Woe on Unrepentant Towns ] Then Jesus began to denounce the towns in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent.
Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent.
Luke 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Luke 13:3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
Luke 13:5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Luke 17:3 So watch yourselves. “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them.
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,
Acts 8:22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.
Acts 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Acts 20:21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
Romans 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
Ephesians 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
2 Timothy 2:25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Revelation 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
Repentance is increasing in God's character because we are seeking, learning about, and obeying God
Repentance is not only turning from sin because many turn from one sin and then move to another or work to abstain from a particular sin thinking it is God's will. Abstinence from sin does not move us toward God. Only seeking and building in God's character will move us closer God. We must be willing to receive God's goodness and righteousness in order to be in it.
There are many groups which focus on ridding themselves of certain problems. The focus on eliminating problems can tend to lead people away from the solution which is God. They talk about how they avoid problems or are stuck in the problems and avoid discussing how they can progressively move toward the solution (truth, sincerity, compassion, intimacy, and love). If all we do is examine sinful behavior how can we ever see God? Instead we ought to change our focus toward God and his principles, structure our thoughts and conversations around how to improve in that direction, and commit to such action.
Romans 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
Hebrews 12:1-11 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.’
Endure hardship as discipline, God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our Spirits and Live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
So, we need a new course and a new direction. We have habits and rituals which provide us structure to get through our day. To begin changing we must change some of those habits and structure, but change it by adding a focus upon God. In repentance we are now students seeking to learn about God's will and character. Each day we:
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Progress, not perfection. But for the grace of God...
We are imperfect people being perfected by God's grace, if we participate in it.