The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
Just what is involved in real, sincere, earnest repentance before God? I've heard some say all you have to do is "accept Christ." Is this all there is to it?
Tragically few today understand what real repentance is — or what it means to "accept Christ." Repentance means to CHANGE. Any modern dictionary will explain that repent means "to amend or resolve to amend one's life — to CHANGE ONE'S MIND with regard to past or intended action, conduct) and so forth, because of regret or dissatisfaction." But, the truth is, to REPENT means all that — AND MUCH MORE! Repentance, in the sight of God, is NOT merely temporary sorrow or remorse; it is NOT just an outward show of "changing." TRUE repentance is OF THE WHOLE HEART, MIND, AND BEING! It involves your LIFE — LITERALLY! Notice what Isaiah the prophet said: "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found) call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked FORSAKE HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him RETURN unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:6-7). Have you ever thought of it that way before? Haven't you just "assumed" that "repentance" simply meant "accepting" Christ as your personal Saviour, and perhaps attending some church once in awhile? Haven't you believed it merely meant living a "decent" sort of life in general? Repentance includes FORSAKING YOUR PAST IV AY OF LIFE — totally changing your life — the very way you have been going — and beginning to start out going GOD'S way instead! It also includes forsaking evil thoughts — the very THOUGHT PROCESSES you used to have — carnally motivated thoughts, selfish thoughts, self-centered ideas and interests. Repentance involves CHANGING THE WAY YOU THINK, as well as the WAY YOU LIVE! All this is involved in TRUE repentance! Instead of being SELF-centered, your life begins to be GOD-CENTERED! Instead of always asking, "What do I want to do, now?" you begin asking, "What would GOD have me do?" Instead of wondering, "What will people think'" you will begin to be concerned about, "What does GOD think?" YOUR WHOLE LIFE — your whole APPROACH to living — WILL BE CHANGED! You will begin studying God's Word daily, fervently, as you strive to LIVE "by every word of God" (Mat. 4:4; Luke 4:4). You no longer look on your life as your own — to do with as you please, You no longer think first of SELF, in all you do. All that must be changed! Notice a few scriptures which illustrate this TOTAL CHANGE. Jesus did not "pull any punches" when speaking about repentance. He explained what it involves literally, vividly — plainly. He showed that it is NOT just a casual " decision" one makes "for Christ." Jesus told the multitudes of His day, "If ANY MAN come to me, and hate [the Greek word translated "hate" means "to love so much less by comparison"] not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross [or burden], and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-27). Sounds like STRONG LANGUAGE, doesn't it? What did Jesus mean? He meant what He said. But He didn't say exactly what you probably think. In other words — to be a follower of JESUS CHRIST, a person must be willing to FORSAKE EVERYTHING, GIVE UP EVERYTHING! One must LOVE CHRIST SO MUCH that, if necessary, one would be willing to give up one's very family — and even one's OWN LIFE! All physical things, in comparison to the love one has for God, must be like so much disgusting "dung"! The apostle Paul explained it. Notice his attitude toward this present life: "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the LOSS OF ALL THINGS, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Phil. 3:7-8). How plain! Paul looked upon his own things as so much vile refuse — so much putrid garbage — he counted his own life as NOTHING — that he might serve Christ and follow Him! That is the attitude EVERY truly repentant person must have — or else he is deceiving himself and has received a COUNTERFEIT repentance! The truly Christian life must be TOTALLY DEDICATED to God. It must be WHOLLY DEVOTED to God. No reservations! No strings attached! No if's, and's, but's, why-not's, or conditions! God demands TOTAL SURRENDER — total obedience! Notice further! Paul wrote to the Romans this striking admonition: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be NOT conformed to this world: but be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2). Repentance and surrender to God for the remission of sins involves — did you catch it? — TOTAL SACRIFICE! Literally, you must be willing to give up and SACRIFICE ALL — lay it on the altar — give it ALL to God to use as HE sees fit in the future! Such repentance means you will NOT be a "conformist" to the ways of the world around you. Your whole MIND and ATTITUDE will be changed and TRANSFORMED through receiving the Spirit of God, that you will be able to LIVE according to the divine WILL and WORD of God! Now everything becomes GOD-CENTERED instead of self-centered! Now GOD becomes the One you strive to obey and please in everything you do, think, and say! All this is involved in true, sincere, REAL repentance before God.