Repentance and forgiveness of sin is an unavoidable repetitive theme throughout the Bible from the Old Testament through the book of Revelation. It is a persistent concept and command that cannot be ignored. Repenting and being forgiven is a continual process in this life. Repentance is a positive, vital key to experiencing truth, mercy (forgiveness), freedom and complete joy! Yet people will twist themselves into pretzels trying to avoid the topic of guilt and repentance.
Many Christians avoid digging deeply into the topic of guilt and repentance while trying and failing to leap frog past it to the joy of having a loving relationship with God. Guilt should lead instantly to genuine repentance. Repentance brings instant forgiveness, which opens the door to joy, through a relationship with God.
Repentance is necessary to have a relationship with our Creator. It must come first, because our sins have separated us from Him. God is quick to forgive and hear us when we repent. Then joy replaces guilt, because we can be connected with Him. Until we have a repentant heart, we remain distant from Him.
It’s that simple. With a humble heart, repentance comes quickly, forgiveness is immediate. So, there is no need to dwell on guilt every time we sin. Satan the devil wants us to wallow in guilt, not accepting forgiveness.
When we sin and repent immediately, God will forgive us immediately. Guilt is immediately gone. Joy is restored. If we dwell in sin without repentance, joy is removed, because we are in a state or process of separating from God.
Isaiah 59 explains that God is not set against us because of our sins. It shows that He knows that we need His intervention and forgiveness. Verse 1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
The problem begins with the fact that every person has inherited the fallen nature of mankind and God will not associate with unrepentant people. A Savior is needed to rescue us. Then, Isaiah 59 very thoroughly lays out the problem of the fallen nature of man separating us from God. In verse 16 it says He “was astonished (appalled) that there was no one to intercede”.
The solution was promised at the end of that chapter, “a redeemer will come.” This book is speaking to Israel, to whom a relationship with God was offered first, but the New Testament makes it clear that salvation has come to all. (Acts 11:18) Jesus is the Intercessor to save us all from the fallen state of man.
The Christ event was planned from before the creation of mankind. God knew from the beginning that it would be necessary. In 1 Peter 1, speaking to those who had accepted the rescue by Jesus, Paul said in verse 18, “knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you”.
Check out 1 John 1. Verse 6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another (which includes God), and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (including future sin) 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us."
This process of being “cleansed from all unrighteousness”, “cleansed from all sin” is a Wash-Rinse-Repeat cycle. It’s not a once and done process. Life gets us dirty. Wash-Rinse-Repeat. To “repent” doesn’t mean to instantly become perfect. To believe we can become sinless is a lie. To believe we can receive forgiveness and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” is faith! (2 Peter 3:18)
Repentance means to determine to turn away from sin (“darkness”) and toward good, or righteousness (“Light”). It is not a promise that, “I will never sin again”. It is a decisive, progressive determination to correct wrong patterns of action and thinking with God’s continual forgiveness, spiritual help and power living in us through the Holy Spirit. In that relationship with Him we grow and mature away from our relationship with sin.
The only true “righteousness” is God’s. When Christ lives in us, God sees Christ in us. The only righteousness we ever have is His, as He lives in us. (1 Corinthians 1:30) Righteousness is always His, but His righteousness can live in us by that relationship with Him. We can have that relationship only through confession and repentance to Him.
He provides the continual grace and forgiveness. In that relationship He leads us in spiritual growth toward perfection. He leads us in the direction of perfection. Simply relax in that maturing grace relationship, because that growth is never complete in this life. The process of repentance/forgiveness is never complete in this temporary fallen human state. Draw near to Him and grow!
We can go straight to the God of mercy and confess our sins instantly when we realize we have sinned. Repentance is instantly followed by forgiveness. Wash-Rinse-Repeat. There is “no way to get there from here” without facing the guilt and repentance. It is a clearing, cleaning process that begins with guilt, but instantly brings forgiveness and the joy of salvation. The cleansing and clearing lasts longer and longer as we mature spiritually.
Yes, it is true that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And, it is also true that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) That gift of God was extremely costly. It is not “cheap grace” because, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Therefore, we can get past the Creator’s irrevocable death penalty for our sins, because He paid it Himself through the Christ event! John 1 says Jesus was God and all things were created by Him, through Him and for Him. He cherishes mankind, so He came into His own creation and died for every human to pay the required penalty. Through Him we now have access directly to God Himself.
Confess the sin. Express the repentance directly to God. Repentance brings immediate forgiveness, clearing and cleaning each and every time. Embrace the love and seek with your whole heart to love Him back. How can we not love a God who loves us with such sacrificial love?
Loving God back is the new covenant “greatest commandment”. The second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” The repentance/forgiveness promise opens the door to live a joyful life of real love!
When some who had participated in calling for the crucifixion of the Messiah realized what they had done, they asked the disciples of Jesus, (Acts 2:37) “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
The promise was made to some of those who had been guilty of crucifying Jesus! We all have required that sacrifice to take place. Repentance is a command with a promise of an incredible gift! Not only will we no longer be guilty, even beyond forgiveness we are given the gift of salvation and eternal life, which is the Holy Spirit actually living in us! The Holy Spirit is God Himself; an incredible gift to people who admit their sins and turn from it to Him. (Repentance)
The guilt is put on Christ, if we have faith to believe that. If we do not repent and do not believe Jesus took those sins on Himself on the cross, we are still in our sins. If someone confesses and repents to God but still feels guilt, they have not fully accepted the forgiveness and mercy of God.
We don’t have to languish in guilt! We don’t have to punish ourselves to somehow make up for sin. In fact, we can’t. Jesus already allowed Himself to be punished for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to! Guilt is no longer in place upon repentance and forgiveness.
If you lack faith, you can ask for it as a gift. Ephesian 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.
Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the gospel in pairs before His crucifixion. Mark 6:12 They went out and preached that men should repent.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus telling people about the good news of the kingdom of God. He preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 3:2) Without repentance, we are still in the darkness of the kingdom of Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Through repentance and forgiveness, we can enter the Kingdom of light in this life now.
2 Peter 3:9 says “The Lord… is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” Again, the definition of repentance is leaving something (sin and darkness) behind and turning to something else (God’s kingdom of light).
Matthew 10:28 warns that we should indeed “be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell”. Without repentance and forgiveness, we all face the terrible sentence of eternal destruction in hell for sin. Romans 2 clearly shows that God does pass judgment.
However, Romans 2:4 contrasts His judgment with His kindness: “…do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Then, Romans 10:12 promises, “for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.””
We come to a truly repentant attitude and lifestyle when we begin to hate sin as much as God hates sin. With that mindset we will be deeply grieved when we sin and will be compelled to repent immediately. We can then begin to more meticulously root out sin with God’s help.
Psalm 51 says this, “1 Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” Verse 9 “Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
We can pray to our merciful, loving God to help us to grow in His grace, wisdom and love. Then our lives will be filled increasingly with “joy and gladness” (verse 8 of Psalm 51).
Psalm 103 talks about how compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and loving God is (verse 8). Verse 10: He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
We don’t have to seek to repent and be forgiven for one sin at a time. That would leave us no time for anything else! Instead, we can endeavor to seek and find the root cause of our sin.
Generally, we are all simply living out the fallen nature of mankind. Sin is sin, and all sin requires the penalty of death to be paid. However, there are categories that sins fit into. When we can identify those, we can conquer them. Perhaps selfish vanity manifests itself into many different sins in our lives.
A lack of love is at the root of all kinds of sin. If we ask God, He will gently reveal to us that our lack of love or selfish pride, or perhaps some other specific thing is at the root of many sins. Humility and love will be a major weapon in conquering sin in our lives. When we get at the root of sinful actions and destroy it, we will be making incredible progress in a pursuit of godliness. Seek to destroy the root of sin, not just what’s being manifested “above the ground”.
Repentance needs to become deeply personal. Love will destroy the root of all sin. As we develop the loving relationship with God described in so many scriptures, we will learn to love Jesus so much it will hurt to sin against him. If we love Him, we will love our neighbor, too. The two greatest commandments. See also, 1 John 4:20.
We need to desire and pursue His holiness so much, that we will become determined not to grieve the Lord. He will then provide the power needed through His Holy Spirit. Sin disrupts that intimate relationship. Repentance/forgiveness restores it! Godly sorrow brings joy! 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation…”
Repentance and forgiveness allows us the awesome gift of a love relationship with the Creator of everything that exists. Revelation 3:19 'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
What an incredible offer! What an incredibly merciful God we have! Look at what Jesus (who was God in the flesh) said to a woman caught in adultery that was about to be stoned by the self-righteous Pharisees. Jesus apparently made a list of the accusers’ own sins in the dirt.
John 8:10 (NIV) Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Down in verse 32 He said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
“Leaving a life of sin” is repentance. Leaving behind that life does not mean perfection and complete sinlessness. It means turning toward God and His kingdom of light. Light chases away the darkness.
Malachi the prophet contrasts the fearful judgment of God with His mercy. Malachi 4:2 "But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”
Repentance and forgiveness bring the dawn. Repentance brings daylight. The darkness moves away progressively, giving way to full daylight and lasting joy! Daylight brings truth and truth brings freedom. Freedom is anchored by Truth!
There is more about the incredible benefits of repentance and forgiveness here.
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