Repentance has become one of the forgotten words in our English vocabulary. Yet it was the message of all the prophets. It was the message John the Baptist preached in the Jordan Valley. It was the message of Jesus as He commenced His ministry, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). It was the message that birthed the church at Pentecost and the message of all the apostles. The Lenten season begins with a call to repent for each of us.
But what really is behind this word? Repentance is not remorse, being sorry for our sin. The rich young ruler went away “sorrowful” but didn’t repent (Matthew 19:16–22). It is not simply regret, wishing that some moment could be lived over again. Pilate washed his hands, regretting his evil deed, but he didn’t repent (Matthew 27:24). Repentance is not reform, that is, trying to turn over a new leaf. Judas reformed by returning the silver coins of betrayal but didn’t repent (Matthew 27:3).
Repentance emerges from a Greek word meaning “to change one’s mind,” which results in a change of will, which in turn results in a change of action. While repentance begins with a change of mind, the real proof will be found in a change of attitude and action.
Begin today to change your mind about your sin. It is not some vice to be laughed off. Sin is so serious it necessitated the cross. Also change your mind about your self. You cannot please God through self-righteousness. Finally, change your mind about your Savior. Jesus is not just some teacher or prophet, but He is God, who clothed Himself in human flesh and gave Himself for you.
Repent . . ., that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.