A holy God can never tolerate sin. Our transgressions create a barrier between us and the Creator. If we keep on sinning, we cannot be intimate with God. Therefore, we need to experience genuine repentance.
‘Repentance’ comes from the Greek word ‘metanoia’ which literally means a change (meta) of mind (nous) resulting in a transformation of life. Being repentant is seeing sin as God sees it. It should break our heart and make us weep! Repentance goes beyond being mentally and emotionally sorry. It should also touch our innermost core, our spiritually. It is being sorry
enough to quit.
We should follow David’s example in Psalm 51. He came to God with a broken spirit. He admitted his sins and accepted the consequences of his actions. David did not stop there. He also turned his back on his sinful ways, and walked away. But we should repent not only for the ‘obvious’ or ‘big’ sins such as adultery, lying, or stealing. We should also repent of the so-called respectable sins: worry, ingratitude, discontentment, irritability, anger, gossiping, etc. Whether big or small, we should see sin as it is.
There are three important things we need to learn about repentance:
Repentance and intimacy with God go together. According to James 4:8, “If we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. Cleanse
your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” We must forsake our sinful actions and deeds, and we must make sure that the change is not superficial and really goes down to our hearts. Being double-minded means trying to follow both and God and the world, which is impossible (read James 4:4). Repentance means forsaking the world and following God solely.
Repentance is prompted by humility and vice versa. Pride is the number one impediment to repentance. Proud people say, ‘I don’t need correction. I don’t need to improve.’ If you think you’re righteous, you won’t see the need to repent. Romans 3:10 proves otherwise: “None is righteous, no, not one.” Humility causes us to recognize all of our imperfections and faults. Humble people say, ‘I have so many things that I need to improve in my life. I have a long, long way to go.’
Repentance is prompted by the grace of God. You cannot have repentance without God working in your life. The story of the tax collector named Zaccheus in Luke 19 powerfully illustrates how God, in His grace, makes the first move and how He works in our lives.
Zaccheus, being a short man, had to climb a tree so that he could see Jesus as He was passing by Jericho. When Jesus came to the place where Zaccheus was, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry! Come down. Today, I must stay at your house.” (v. 5) Jesus invited Himself into this “chief sinner’s” house. Jesus knows us and everything about us, even our sins, yet still demonstrates His love for us and spends time with us. This is the grace of God in action. “Then Zaccheus hurried and came down and received Him gladly.” (v.6) We need to humble ourselves, and come down to be with Jesus. Repentance is our response to the saving grace of God.
God is very clear—to draw near to Him, there should be radical repentance. In the same way, as we become more intimate with God, more light is shed in our lives. As we get a clearer view of who God is and what He delights in, we also get a clearer of view of ourselves. Humble yourself and draw near to God. Let repentance be an indispensable part of your life as you take on your journey toward intimacy with God.