Job 42:6: therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Repentance is a personal decision. It is a sign of maturity, taking personal responsibility. It is a sign of commitment to change, to live differently, to being different, to turning a new leaf.
Jesus came with the message: repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).
You cannot collect what is in the hand of God until you drop what is in your own hand.
Repentance for Moses is a process (Exodus 2-3). God wanted him to turn away (repent) from his belief that he would die as a shepherd, and embark on the task of rescuing the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt.
Repentance means change of mind, change of direction.
Moses needed to overcome his bondage to his memory when he first attempted to be a deliverer. He killed an Egyptian and ran away from Egypt (lest he be caught and summarily dealt with) the same place where God wanted him to go.
When God met Moses when he was herding the sheep of his father-in-law many years from then, he was asked him to drop what was in his hands his staff which was the symbol of his life as a shepherd, a career choice thrust on him by life’s circumstances.
When he dropped the staff and he picked it up again, it was changed in purpose. It became something to divide the red sea and performed signs and wonders in Egypt. Lifted from following the sheep, Moses became the one who led the Israelites from Egypt. The Moses who ran away from Egypt was not the one who went back there.
The process of change is repentance.
Peter, after the resurrection of Jesus told some people he preached to that when they repent they will experience times of refreshing from the presence of God (Acts 3:19). God is waiting for your repentance to make his presence available to you more than ever before.
But repentance is hard because no one wants to agree that he is at fault, it spoils your self-constructed image. When God came to the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve did wrong by eating the wrong fruit, and God asked them why? They passed the blame.
They somehow thought they will be exonerated if they can come up with a good enough defence for themselves. But that tactic does not work on God because he sees the heart, he knows us more than we know ourselves. David said that He knows before they are even formed (Psalm 139:2).
David knows this first hand. He has slept with another man’s wife and arranged the death of her husband when he discovered that she was pregnant (2Samuel 11-12). The list of his errors in that incident were many: adultery, murder, cover-up, lies, manipulation, breach of trust, abuse of position.
He thought he can clean up his tracks and God would not mind. But he was blown away by the message God sent through Prophet Nathan. Nathan brought an indictment to him, but after he repented God said he was not going to die but will pay somehow for his sin.
The seed he had sown will be reaped somehow. That really hit him.
For his repentance, he composed a song of repentance seen in the Psalm 51.
There he said that repentance is leaning on the mercy of God.
John said that if we say we have not sinned we lie and the truth is not in us (1John 1:8).
We should learn to come to the throne of mercy to obtain mercy and find grace to help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). Mercy comes before grace, while mercy cleans you up, grace makes you up. You are saved by grace, formed by grace, helped by grace and enhanced by grace.
Repentance is not just about seeking for forgiveness but also seeking for cleansing. So people do not repent not because they think God will not forgive them. The fact that they are still breathing after many years of sinning, is a sign that God is slow to anger and wants them to repent (2Peter 3:9), but they will not repent because they do not want to stop (John 3:19-21), or they think there is no way they can stop.
But there is cleansing when we repent. We do not repent to exhibit to God how strong our will is to correct our ways. We repent to show how needy we are how much we need of God.
We cannot attain to holiness by ourselves, we need God, we need him to break from wrong habits, we need deliverance from the hold of sin, we need to be set free from the hold of darkness, we need the light of Jesus to dawn on us, we need his ability to live above sin to be manifest in our lives. We need him to enable us to walk on the high places of freedom from sin.
According to David in that psalm, all sins need to be acknowledged. Giving excuses does not solve anything. Casting the blame will not help anyone, we need to take responsibility for our actions or else we will not make progress.
David could have said that it was not his fault that Uriah’s wife was bathing at a time when he was looking past his balcony. So the “coincidence” was to blame and not his lustful tendencies. But he did not take that route. He said: I have sinned, and done this evil in your sight.
An awareness of God all the time helps to prevent us from falling into sin. Joseph was aware of God’s eyes that is on him, that was why he could survive against the pressure put on him by his master’s servant (Genesis 39:9).
It is better to avoid sin than have to repent from it, because some consequences of sin are not reversible. However, it is better to repent of sin than to try to cover it up.
The bible says that he who covers up his sin will not prosper. Sometimes we need to confess our sins one to another so that we may be healed. Others may have words of counsel for us to help us deal with the issue that seems so big to us. We may need to leave the environment where we are, to gain a new perspective on things, and leave the wrong influences around us.
Importantly, we need to examine the word of God concerning the issues we are grappling with so that we can be strengthened to overcome, since the word of God is food (1Peter 2:2), which gives us spiritual strength.
- Repent or Perish (still relevant!) (pilgrimpassing.com)
- The Call to Repentance- Repent or Perish (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Getting straight with God. (pastormikesays.wordpress.com)
- Keep Practicing Repentance (mymorningmeditations.com)