A Command for Everyone
There are many difficult commands in the Bible; none were more difficult than the command God gave to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. (Genesis 22) Our most challenging command might well be that of repentance. This is a command for everyone. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31) The word “repent” is in our Kings James Bible 43 times. The word “repentance” is found in the Kings James Version 23 times. The word “repenteth” is found five times in the King James Bible. Repentance is a change of mind, of attitude and of heart. It is an act of faith that leads to a change away from any sinful lifestyle. Jesus wanted everyone to hear the message of repentance. He said, “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
Salvation in Jesus without a change of life is impossible. Feeling sorry for an action without a change of life is not repentance. Paul said “godly sorrow produces repentance,” but we must understand that godly sorrow is not repentance. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10) Just saying “I am sorry” is not repentance; but a person who is truly sorry for sins will come to repentance. The Law of God made man aware of sin and showed the need for repentance and forgiveness. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20) Repentance is an act of faith. “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38-39)
God’s desire is that we repent and stop sinning. John chapter eight records the story of a woman that was taken in the very act of adultery. Jesus said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7) Most people who quote this verse do so in order to try to justify some personal wrong. The scribes and Pharisees were told this because they were deliberately breaking God's Law in condemning this woman in the way they did. They had no respect for the Law. Jesus told this woman to "go, and sin no more." (John 8:11) It is vital that Christians stop sinning. Let us observe our weakness and by relying on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus get out of the business of sin.
Who should repent and why should we repent? Those who are not yet Christians should repent and be baptized to be saved. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) Christians who have sinned also need to repent. When Philip preached in Samaria, Simon, who had been a sorcerer, became a Christian. He sinned by wanting to buy the ability to pass on gifts of the Holy Spirit. Peter told this Christian man who had sinned, “Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” (Acts 8:20-22) Repent now! Judgment Day is coming. (Acts 17:30-31)
Repentance involves stopping the sins that are in our life. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Romans 6:1-2) God loves us and He desires our repentance. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) The longsuffering of God will not last forever. Have you repented of your sins? Have you been baptized for the remission of your sins? “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16) We must repent of our sins and be baptized into Christ to avoid condemnation at the Judgment.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037