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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 30 2019

Repentance: the first step

The Bible describes repentance as a profound realization of our sins leading us to change our motivations, thoughts and actions. It's a miracle, granted to us by God, enabling us to comprehend the depth of our sinful, human nature and to turn from our old way of life.

Repentance is the starting point of our relationship with our Creator. At its core, repentance is change. It’s turning from our previous self-centered existence to serve God and center our life around Him. In Peter’s first recorded sermon on the Day of Pentecost, he urges, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:36-38).

Godly repentance is a miracle, or gift, given to us by God, allowing us to see how totally selfish, corrupt and far from God we are. It leads to a deep, life-altering commitment to change and draw closer to God. This is accomplished with the help of God’s Holy Spirit granted to a repentant Christian on baptism. Jesus plainly stated, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

Humanly we can’t comprehend the depth of change God desires to see in our hearts and minds. We even need help to understand what sin is! The Apostle John clearly defines sin in 1 John 3:4 as lawlessness, and then then goes on in I John 5:3 to make it clear which law he is referring to: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

Although God “desires all men to be saved,” He doesn’t force anyone to repent (1 Timothy 2:4). His kindness and goodness lead us to repentance as mentioned in Romans 2:4, but He doesn’t make the choice for us. The decision is still ours.

Someone who’s responding to God’s call for repentance wants to learn His will and understand what He expects of them. They begin to study God’s inspired Word, develop a regular prayer life and grow in their desire to submit to God and live according to His instructions.

John, the Baptist pointed out to the crowd following him they needed to ‘bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

“... He that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said to him, Master, what shall we do? And he said to them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said to them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:11-14).

Because these people had difficulty recognizing their own failings, as people often do, John chose examples that hit home to them. He demanded personal sacrifice, given willingly, that showed genuine concern for others. He told them to look inside themselves and examine the motives driving their attitudes and actions. He called on them to change their behavior and the examples he chose typifies the self-centered, self-serving nature in all of us.

Drawing closer to God means a lifetime of growth and change, starting with godly repentance God expects before baptism. If you sincerely desire to commit your life to God, ask Him for His gift of repentance. Tell Him your intentions in prayer. Seek His help. Your part is to act on faith, then trust God to answer your prayers.

This is one of the most important steps you will take in your entire life.

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