Theology 101 (Lesson 16)
What is repentance? | Acts 3:19
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”
Changing one preposition can make a huge difference.
Many of us have heard that repentance is turning from sin to Jesus. In one sense, that's true. But it can easily be misunderstood.
It may sound like, that in turning from sin to Jesus we are promising to stop sinning and start obeying.
Of course, that is not what repentance is. Repentance has nothing to do with my promises or resolve. It's simply a confession of moral truth.
I'm guilty of all charges.
This is why genuine repentance changes the preposition.
For example, rather than turning from my sin to Jesus, what if I turn with my sin to Jesus?
What we discover is that, when we turn with our sin to Jesus, we have a new desire to turn from our sin. This is what John the Baptizer called “the fruit of repentance.”
Repentance is not a change in behavior but a change in perspective about our sin. The result is a change in how we live in response to God’s forgiving grace.
Some have said it like this. In repentance, we come to God as you are. But because he loves us, he will not leave us as we are.
Now we're getting the idea!
To turn with our sin to Jesus means bringing our brokenness, shame, and guilt to him, knowing that he can heal, restore, and make us new.
It means acknowledging that we cannot overcome sin on our own and that we need Jesus' grace and mercy to set us free.
Instead of hiding our sin, we bring it out into the light and confess it to Jesus, trusting that, in view of the cross, he will forgive us and restore us. In fact, in the cross, he has already forgiven us.
This is why repentance is not so much for God as it is for us as we re-remember the gospel, seeing all of our sin under his shed blood.
The idea of turning towards Jesus with our sin may sound counterintuitive.
After all, we're taught that sin separates us from God, which is true. But the truth is, Jesus came for the sinners, not the righteous. He didn't come to condemn us but to save us. When we turn towards Him with our sin, we acknowledge our need for his blood to cleanse us.
Repentance is not a one-time event but an ongoing day in and day out process.
It involves daily surrendering our lives to Jesus, confessing our sins, and living in the atmosphere of his reconciling grace.
When we turn towards Jesus with our sin, we are not only set free from its hold on us, but we also experience the love, grace, and mercy of God in a profound way.
We begin to see ourselves and others through his eyes, and we are empowered to live a life that honors him in the power of his indwelling Holy Spirit.
What is the difference between turning from sin to Jesus and turning with sin to Jesus?
Why is it important to acknowledge our brokenness, shame, and guilt to Jesus?
How does the cross give us confidence to confess our moral crimes before Jesus’ kingship?
How does repentance involve daily surrendering our lives to Jesus?
How does turning towards Jesus with our sin set us free and empower us to live a life that honors him?
Why do we say that repentance is not a one-time confession?
Thank you for reminding us that repentance is not about our promises or resolutions but is an honest confession of our sin.
Help us to turn towards you with our sin, bringing it into the light and trusting in your grace and mercy to remind us that we’re yours—fully forgiven, perfectly accepted, and dearly loved.
May we surrender our lives to your mercy every day, confessing our sins and living in the atmosphere of your reconciling grace.
For we pray in Jesus' name. Amen.