Before Jesus came John the Baptist. Matthew 3:1-2 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’” Jesus came with a similar message. Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” When the kingdom came after Jesus’ death and resurrection, here is what Peter preached. Acts 2:38 “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” John, Jesus and Peter each preached repentance. Repentance is necessary for anyone to become a Christian.
We are all sinners. Before our salvation, we followed our own selfish, fleshly desires which resulted in sin. We had to change the direction of our lives. It is like having the desired destination in the East, but instead, we were going west. We were going in the wrong way and have to change our direction. From the basic meaning of the Greek word, repentance means to change one’s mind or purpose. It is a change of heart. If you truly change your mind and purpose, your actions will necessarily be changed as well. The change is from having your mind set on what you desire to having your mind set on what God desires. It requires humility on your part and an acceptance of Jesus as Lord of your life. Repentance is necessary before you can be saved and your sins forgiven. Peter said “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” The Lord wants everyone to come to repentance. 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.”
While repentance is required when you initially become a Christian, there may be other times when repentance is required. We have at least two examples in the Bible of such repentance. The first example is Simon the sorcerer. Initially he accepted the gospel and was converted. Acts 8:18-23 “And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.’” Simon was told to repent of his wickedness. The second example is with the church in Corinth. In the first Corinthian letter we find the church had many problems, including condoning a man who had his father’s wife. Paul wrote in the second letter in 2 Corinthians 7:8-9 “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.” From these two examples we learn that repentance may be necessary for a Christian when there is a departure from the truth. In other words, we may need to change our thinking and our actions if they are opposed to the Lord.
While repentance means a change of mind and purpose, there needs to also be a change of actions. John was baptizing in the Jordan. Matthew 3:7-9 “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.’” John was concerned that the Pharisees and Sadducees had come to his baptism but that they had no intent to change. He admonished them to bear fruits worthy of repentance. The apostle Paul described his ministry in Acts 26:20 “But declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.” Paul’s teaching was that individuals needed to repent but also do works befitting repentance. And so it is with you. Your actions need to demonstrate that you have repented.
Repentance is required of everyone because we will all stand before the judgement seat of God. Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
My encouragement to you is to repent any time the direction of your life is opposed to God’s way. When you change your mind in repentance, be sure that you bear fruits worthy of repentance.