Today we are going to choose repentance. If you wondered why we didn't begin this series with repentance, it is because of an important principle. The principle is this: God does not love us because we repent; we repent because God loves us. Consequently, we needed to get to love before we got to repentance. We spoke about love yesterday, so we are ready for repentance today.
We can see the Repentance Principle in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. After leaving his father's house with his share of the inheritance and blowing it all up on wild living, the son found himself in a pig sty. There, as he envied the food the pigs were eating, he came to his senses. He said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you" (Luke 15:17-18).
We can see he is acknowledging his sin but is he repentant? No. He is undoubtedly sorry about many things — that he squandered his fortune, that he lost his friends, that he had sunk to such a terrible state — but I don't think he is really sorry that he has hurt his father. When does that happen? That happens when he gets back home, and instead of being treated with the harshness he undoubtedly believes he deserves, he is treated like a returning war hero. That's when repentance enters his heart. He decides he never wants to do anything that will hurt his father again, and that means shutting out the world he has just left for good. This is what repentance is. It's not merely feeling sorry for one's actions and consequently apologizing for them. It is turning one's back to the world, never wanting to return to it again.
In his first sermon after Pentecost, Peter told his listeners how they had crucified the Messiah who had come to save them. Scripture says, "when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). 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).
When we repent, we are effectively declaring we no longer want to be part of the world, living in the flesh, but want to be part of God's kingdom. Then, when we are baptized, we unite ourselves with Christ, dying with him to sin once and for all and rising to new life with his resurrection. This is what it means to be born again. We become a new creation. As Paul writes: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
This transformation involves a fundamental change in our identity and way of living as we turn away from our old life and embrace a new life in Christ. This new life is characterized by righteousness, holiness, and a renewed mind focused on God and his purposes. It's pretty incredible, really, so let us choose repentance today.
God bless you.