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The power of repentance
- Jacob Ninan
We know that both Peter and Judas felt bad after their denial and betrayal of Jesus. Both felt great remorse, but only Peter repented. To feel remorse is to feel bad about the wrong we have done. But repentance is much more than that. It is to feel so bad that we determine not to do it again (2Co.7:9-11). We mustn't assume just because we feel bad about something wrong we have done, that we have repented.
One of the reasons why we don't make as much progress as we could is because of a lack of genuine repentance. When we fall we feel bad. We may even confess it to God thinking afterwards that we have been forgiven (1Jn.1:9). But isn't it possible that we have just glossed over our sin, and tried to take advantage of the mercy of God!
When we truly repent, we will want to set things right. We are sorry that we have failed the Lord and we don't want to let that happen again. When we confess our sins, we also tell Him how sorry we are that we have grieved His heart and brought dishonour to His name before people, angels and demons. We earnestly ask Him for help - wisdom and grace - so that we can overcome when we are tempted the next time. If we have hurt others by our sin we want to make amends as far as possible. This may mean an apology and making up for any practical loss we have caused to them.
God knows it when our repentance is real and not just from our lips (Is.29:13). Even though we can't fool God, we can easily fool ourselves. One of the reasons why we continue to fool ourselves is that God doesn't punish us as soon as we sin (Ecc.8:11). We feel everything must be fine. But the fact that we are not getting to experience a more intimate fellowship with God, being changed more into the likeness of Christ, becoming wiser in our dealings with ourselves and others, getting better understanding of God's ways, etc., could indicate that something is blocking our progress. This 'something' could very well be a lack of true repentance.
One healthy step on the path of spiritual life is to repent when we recognise that something that we have done in the past was wrong. It doesn't matter if it was done years ago, everyone has forgotten about it, it has now gone beyond correction or we think there is no practical gain in going over it at this point. However we may think about it, repentance is still the right thing to do regarding sin (Mt.3:15). A genuine act of repentance helps us to humble ourselves in the sight of God (Jas.4:10), draw near to God (v.8), seek for mercy and grace (He.4:16), set our affection on things above (Col.3:2), renew our determination to change (2Co.7:11), etc. Will not God then begin to exalt us (lift us up), draw near to us, give us greater strength for the future, etc.?
Isn't it also good for us to take time now and then to sit quietly before the Lord and to humble ourselves in an attitude of repentance? Won't our 'worship' also become more meaningful along with repentance?