I FIND IT INTERESTING that repent is the very first word out of Jesus’ mouth in his ministry in the New Testament. Repentance is a rich biblical term that signifies an elemental transformation in someone’s mind, heart, and life. When people repent, they turn from walking in one direction to running in the opposite direction. From that point forward, they think differently, believe differently, feel differently, love differently, and live differently.
When Jesus said, “Repent,” he was speaking to people who were rebelling against God in their sin and relying on themselves for their salvation. Jesus’ predominantly Jewish audience believed that their family heritage, social status, knowledge of specific rules, and obedience to certain regulations were sufficient to make them right before God.
Jesus’ call to repentance, then, was a summons for these people to renounce sin and all dependence on self for salvation. Only by turning from their sin—away from themselves and toward Jesus—could they be saved. Fundamentally, then, repentance involves renouncing a former way of life in favor of a new way of life.
This doesn’t mean that when we become Christians, we suddenly become perfect. It means that we make a decided break with an old way of living and take a decisive turn to a new way of life as followers of our Lord Jesus. We literally die to our sin and to ourselves—our self-centeredness, self-consumption, self-righteousness, self-indulgence, self-effort, and self-exaltation. In the words of the apostle Paul, we can say, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
As Christ begins to live in us, everything about us begins to change. Our minds change. Our desires change. Our wills change. Our relationships change. Ultimately, our reason for living changes. Possessions and position are no longer our priorities. Comfort and security are no longer our concerns. Safety is no longer our goal, because self is no longer our god. We now want God’s glory more than we want our own lives.
The more we glorify God, the more we enjoy him and realize that this is what it means biblically to be a Christian.
Ask God to give you an increasing hatred of sin and an increasing reliance on him as you seek to walk in obedience.
Platt, David. 2020. Follow Him: A 35-Day Call to Live for Christ No Matter the Cost. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
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