The Necessity of Repentance

Repentance is a hot topic among Christian circles today.
In fact, many may be surprised at the groups that are now saying that repentance is unnecessary for salvation.
That it was an “Old Testament truth.”

I’m not here to argue that position.
The Bible is very clear that repentance is an essential element in the salvation of a sinner.
A person has to see themselves as a sinner and be willing to give up their sin before salvation can occur.
Essentially, turning from sin to Christ.

Repentance in salvation isn’t even the topic I want to discuss today.
I want to talk about repentance after salvation.

Once Jesus has saved us, we will find ourselves constantly needing to repent.
Why?
Because we still sin.

I’d love to tell you that I never get convicted and have to repent…but that would be a lie.
I’d love to tell you that I never do anything that warrants repenting…but again, that’s just not true.
I mess up.
I fall short.
I sin…every single day.

I think a lot of times we like to present ourselves as the “perfect Christian.”
We don’t like to admit we fail.
We don’t want anyone to see us like that, so we try to keep up the facade that we do no wrong.

Who does that benefit?
Not the people who perceive us that way. What good could that do them?
Not ourselves. Knowing people have this opinion of us just lifts our hearts in pride. (Ahem, more sin.)
Not God. He still sees the wickedness in our hearts when people only see the outside we’ve worked so hard at keeping clean.

I’m not saying we should broadcast the sins we commit to everyone around, but we shouldn’t be afraid or too prideful to admit that we fail God and need His forgiveness.
There are still sins we need to turn from.
We still need to repent.

Sometimes it’s entertaining a thought.
Sometimes it’s a flash of temper.
Sometimes it’s unkind, hurtful words.
And we must repent.

Sometimes it’s more than that.
Sometimes we sin willfully.
We know it’s wrong, but knowingly choose to do it anyway.
Oh, we really don’t want people to know we do that.
Surely good Christians don’t sin on purpose.

Well, as much as I hate to admit it, on occasion, I knowingly sin.
Boy, do I hate to admit that…
Not because I don’t want you to think less of me, but because I realize this is why Christ died.
He hung on the cross for all my sins.
Even the ones I commit in rebellion.

It makes me cringe to think of Him taking my punishment on Calvary for *those* sins.
The sins that at the moment I thought, “I don’t care. I know it’s wrong, but I’m doing it anyway.”
The sins that I will have to answer for one day at the judgment seat of Christ.

It’s times like that when even though it’s shameful and the chastisement of God is painful…I can still rejoice.
Why?
Because the heavy conviction is an evidence that I am His child.
Because there is still forgiveness at the cross.
Because God is still granting me repentance.

Repentance is something that a lot of us seem to have lost, but oh, how we need it!
It wasn’t just a one-time thing.
We didn’t repent when we were saved and now we never have to do it again.
It’s something that we must do until we are with Jesus and have our glorified body.

I ran across this quote from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers:

The old Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” If you ever cease to understand the value of repentance, you allow yourself to remain in sin. Examine yourself to see if you have forgotten how to be truly repentant.

I remember a message a good friend of ours preached several years ago on repentance.
He said that even though we constantly fall short and sin, we need to ask God to make us good repenters.
That has stuck with me, and I’ve often prayed that very thing:

That I would keep a short account with God.
That I would not let sin pile up in my life, but that the Holy Spirit would convict me as soon as the sin was committed so that I could repent and get it right.
That I would be a “good repenter.”

You know, it’s still the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
That doesn’t just apply to repenting at salvation.
When we have Christ living in us, we know that we only have life through His death. He died paying the penalty for our sin…my sin.
When He reminds me of what He endured for my sake, of how good He has been to me, of how much He loves me… I want to repent.
Yes, it breaks my heart to think I’ve failed Him so miserably, but it makes me want to do right.

I long for the day I’ll be in eternity, worshipping Him forever….never to fail Him again.
Until that day comes, may God grant me the gifts of tears and repentance.

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