It’s not always easy to come clean with God. Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough, unless your sorrow is accompanied by true repentance. Repent means to “turn away,” to go the other direction. An act of repentance means one has confessed their sins to God, seen the error of their ways and has determined to correct them.
Repentance as restoration
Some view repentance in terms of sack cloth and ashes, while others view it as a “get out of jail free” card. Some view repentance as an act of fear, to avoid the consequences of sin and separation from God. Still others view repentance as an act of love, like a child wanting to be held after being naughty.
The “wages of sin” being what they are, let us focus on repentance as it pertains to restoration. The Bible is filled with accounts of people falling away from God, suffering, then coming back to God.
Gaining right standing with God is not about human action, it is about repentance. We are powerless to correct the wrongs, completely unable to pay the price and sadly doomed to separation from God for eternity.
God invites us to come clean and in doing so, He has provided the necessary payment to restore us to Him. The Bible has countless references to repentance or repent.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
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. (Acts 2:38)
Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah. (2 Chronicles 32:26)
Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent? You must decide, not I; so tell me what you know. (Job 34:33)
Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6)
Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings. (Proverbs 1:23)
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 59:20)
Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. (Jeremiah 5:3)
I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. (Jeremiah 8:6)
Therefore this is what the Lord says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. (Jeremiah 15:19)
“Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! (Ezekiel 14:6)… “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. (Ezekiel 18:30) … For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live! (Ezekiel 18:32)
God forgives us when we repent… it is that simple!
What is interesting is that nowhere does God require payment, restitution or any other kind of righteous works. Breaking the Law of God is serious business, one that comes with an automatic penalty of death, regardless of the sin, big or small.
God is Holy and Just, requiring complete adherence to His Law at all times. But He is a loving and forgiving God, whose grace is enough to rescue us from the fire. His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, paid the price we could not pay and through Him, we are redeemed. But it starts with repentance.