The Benefit of Repentance in the Life of the Believer

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

Rev. 3:19

What is Repentance?

The definition of repentance is that it is an acknowledgement of sin(wrongdoing), a heartfelt remorse or sorrow for committing sin, followed by a change of heart and turning away from sinful behavior. An important aspect of repentance is that that the sinner obtains a new attitude toward sin where he now aligns his will with God’s will. God hates sin and is repulsed by it because He is holy, (Hab. 1:13). This becomes the believers view now that he/she is aligned with God’s will. The acknowledgement and repentance of sin is necessary prior to receiving salvation through Christ; it is also essential after obtaining salvation and throughout the Christian life. Jesus included a petition for the forgiveness of sins(repentance) in the Lords Prayer, “Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us,” (Luke 11:4). The Lords Prayer is a model for prayer for the Christian which was given by Jesus to His disciples. The petition for repentance included in the prayer is an important feature in the life of the believer, as it is an acknowledgement and appreciation for God’s grace in His forgiveness of sins. It is also evidence of a contrite heart that expresses its sorrow for committing an offense against a Holy God. Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit who convicts them of sin and directs them to repentance. The cleansing of our sin by Christ refreshes our spirit and allows us to be filled with the Holy Spirit; as the Apostle Paul teaches in Ephesians 5:18. Repentance is relational in nature; it is turning from disobedience, to obedience to God. We repent and are obedient to God out of our love for Him, and because we are in a relationship with Him.

Joy and Restoration Through Repentance

The path of the Christian during his life of sanctification is a period of growth, from new believer to mature saint. The Christian evolves in a process of transformation from being a lost sinner who has just been saved, to being conformed to the image of Christ. As the believer progresses through his/her spiritual transformation; they learn, they submit, and they grow in their relationship with the members of the Trinity. They are adopted by the Father, are in union with the Son, and are filled with the Spirit. This relationship with the members of the Trinity requires some knowledge of being connected to a Holy God. While we have obtained the righteousness of Christ for salvation, we are still in the flesh committing sin and harboring sinful thoughts. These inclinations decrease as we grow and become more Christlike. However, because of this ongoing sin, we must continually engage in acts of repentance in submission to the commandments of the Holy God that we are spiritually connected to. Unrepentant sin in the life of the believer repels the members of the Trinity and limits our growth. Though our salvation is sure because of our faith in Christ, our relationship to the persons of the Trinitarian Godhead becomes strained by our sin. Many Christians at times will suffer through times of spiritual darkness and a feeling of being distant from God. It may very well be because unrepentant sin is causing a separation in the relationship, where God has distanced Himself due to the pollution caused by sin. A life of constant repentance and prayer cleanses the believers spirit of pollution and reconciles the relationship.

Repentance is commonly associated only with the conversion of the new believer prior to his justification. The acknowledgement of sins and repentance by the person leads to faith and the acceptance of Christ as Savior for the new believer. While this act of repentance is necessary for the remission of sins, it is only the beginning of an action and pattern that is part of the Christian life. Just as repentance and faith are connected at the beginning of salvation, they are also connected throughout the life of the Christian. Faith is weakened by unrepentant sin, and it is strengthened through repentance. The remission of sin through repentance brings the forgiveness of our disobedience; by God through His grace. The believers spirit is refreshed, his faith is strengthened, and he is again zealous to serve the Lord.

King David: A Model for Repentance

“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;

According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity

And cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,

And my sin is ever before me.

Against You, You only, I have sinned

And done what is evil in Your sight,

So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.

Psalm 51:1-4

King David is the model of a truly repentant person as is evidenced by his Psalms of repentance, of which Psalm 51 is a key example. Though David was God’s anointed servant, he struggled with sin. His affair with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband were detestable sins that caused him great remorse, and which brought him to repentance. The opening verse at the top of the page, Rev. 3:19, display God’s actions toward a believer who sins. He proclaims that to those He loves, He reproves(reprimands) and disciplines: David lost his firstborn with Bathsheba, and later his older son rebelled and drove him from his own kingdom. But God also commands those same persons whom are disciplined to be zealous and to repent, which David did, as should we.

There are two issues regarding the repentance of David. The first, is David’s deep remorse over his sin and his admission that his transgression was against God. He recognized that he must submit to God for compassion as he asks for forgiveness in order to be cleansed of his sin. The second issue, is that underlying David’s plea of repentance is the relationship between He and God. In his psalms, David comes to God for help from enemies, he thanks God for His blessings, and he confesses his disobedience to Him. David relates to God as a son relates to his father. Scripture shows the deep affection that David had with God ever since he was a young boy, when God chose him to be His choice for king over Israel. David displayed his great respect and affection for the God of Israel when he risked his life in defending God’s honor in facing Goliath, when no other Israelite warrior would. This father/child relationship is the type of relationship that we as believers should possess as we come to God in our own repentance. Christians must nurture their relationship with God, because nothing is more precious. Repentance with a truly sorrowful heart repairs the damage caused by sin– and it reconciles the believer to the Holy God that we have offended by our disobedience. Forgiveness brings great joy into our renewed spirit!

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