Let’s cover the basics one more time. We have all sinned, we all fall short of the glory of God. We cannot earn salvation on our own, we need God to save us. The Bible says: “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19)
We have already talked about believing in Jesus, that He died and rose again, and that He is Saviour and Lord. So what does repentance mean?
Now, repentance literally means to turn around. To turn away from evil and to turn towards good. To turn to God. We do this by confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness for them, and by turning away from them, not doing them again. This means that repentance is more than simply regretting our sins, more than being sad that we were caught doing something wrong. It means to move away from doing those things, thinking those thoughts. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live this new life. God knows that even though we now believe in Him and are saved, we are not made perfect yet. He will begin the process of slowly making us more and more like His Son, Jesus. Meanwhile, we try to make choices that reflect that we have turned away from evil.
We live with a heart attitude of repentance, of continuously turning away from evil and towards God.
Our first act of repentance is when we first choose to come to God and ask for forgiveness, and we were saved. But we also have to continue to live with an attitude of repentance. We will continue to make mistakes, so we continue to ask for forgiveness. We continue to confess our sins to God.
This doesn’t mean that you lose your salvation if you fall into sin again. Sadly, the truth is that unless you confess and repent, your heart may harden and start to draw you away from God and towards evil. We read in the Bible: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works…” (Revelation 2:5) To live close to God, to become more like Him, we live with a heart attitude of repentance, of continuously turning away from evil and towards good.
I don’t know what evil there is in your life, maybe anger, violence, unforgiveness, racism. It can be many things. Choose to turn away from it. Ask God to cleanse your heart of the evil that is in it. As an example, choose not to judge people based on their color, race, gender, or anything else. Let God be the judge. Choose to forgive. Choose to be kind and to walk in love and in the light, instead of walking in darkness. This is turning away from evil and towards good. And though I mentioned only ideas, mindsets and feelings, remember that all of these have an outworking in our behaviour. We must turn away from both the mindset and the behaviour.
Does it sound difficult?
I won’t pretend that this is easy, it can be really difficult, especially if you have been thinking and acting sinfully for a long time. But with God everything is possible. Remember that He has promised not to leave us on our own, but to give us the Holy Spirit as a helper. The Bible tells us: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26) Pray that God will strengthen you by the Holy Spirit to walk in love towards the people around you. Pray that God shows you the practical steps you have to take to do just that. And when it is difficult, it helps to tell other believers around you, who can pray for and with you, and who can help you live the way God knows is for your best.
Remember that following Jesus, though it isn’t always easy, it is always for our best. Trust that He loves you, and will never make you do anything that would harm you, only what builds you up and makes you more like Him.