3 Things You Need to Know about Repentance
Philip Wittig is a Lutheran author who writes about the Bible and its teachings, particularly on repentance and the judgement of God. His book Apostasy Can Lead a Nation to Self-Destruct talks about America and its seeming parallelism to ancient Israel. According to Philip Wittig, America currently seems to be leading towards an impending doom as it begins apostatizing, worshipping, and sacrificing to other gods – just as Israel faced the same doomed fate for similar reasons. In this book, Philip Wittig emphasizes the importance of one thing: repentance.
Repentance is the action of repenting. It involves sincere regret or remorse for committed sins. For many people, the term repentance simply means “a turn from sin”. It entails acknowledging the mistakes and sins committed, and making the promise to never do them again. In the Bible, repentance is a term constantly repeated. Its importance is heavily emphasized in numerous occasions. However, besides turning from sin, repentance entails something deeper. There are several aspects in the process of repenting that you need to know. Here are some of the most important of them:
Repentance begins with sincere conviction of sins
Repentance begins with genuine recognition of sins. This means having an eye-opening and heartening awareness of having disobeyed and hurt God by doing what he despises or being indifferent to what he commands you to do. It requires more than just the acknowledgement of sins. It involves knowing by heart that something wrong has been done, and that God is grieving for the sins that you have committed.
The opposite of recognition is rationalization. It is the poignant attempt to justify your moral shortcomings by blaming your mistakes, failures, and mishaps to others. It includes pitying yourself and sparing yourself from any responsibility by insisting that you are merely a victim of the rotten actions of other people and of the unfortunate circumstances in life. To put it differently, rationalization involves not acknowledging the fact that everything that is happening in your life is largely your responsibility.
With true repentance, you are able to recognize your shortcomings. You are able to see how your actions are the ones that determine your course in life. You are responsible for your sins, and genuine repentance comes with acknowledging such responsibility.
Repentance means change
Repentance does not begin and end with the simple recognition of sins. It is a process of change. Repenting means you are willing to change the bad sides of you. It means getting rid of the impulses and tendencies that lead you to commit sins. For example, if you are suffering from substance addiction and you want to repent, you need to make it a point to stop using drugs entirely and change your ways. Repentance goes beyond merely acknowledging that you are an addict. Repentance only happens when the addiction has been eradicated.
When you repent, do whatever it takes to change and to become a new person for God. Completely turn away from sinful living and accept the love found in following God and his commandments. In repentance, you need to accept that you are no longer living just for yourself, based on your desires and whims. You are living in harmony with the will of God.
The sincere pursuit of repentance leads to forgiveness
People repent because they want to be relieved from their sins. Indeed, repentance, when it is sincere and genuine, leads to forgiveness. Forgiveness is the ultimate goal of repenting. It is the purpose for which people embark on the pursuit of change. When you are being forgiven, the oppressive weight of sins that has been burdening you is slowly being lifted from your shoulders.
Forgiveness is joy. It allows you to continue on with life with a new sense of self that is filled with wisdom and understanding. When you are repenting, you are seeking the forgiveness of God. God is ever-forgiving. He keeps no record of wrongs. He is not a spiritual scorekeeper to those who seek His pardoning favor. When you sincerely repent, expect that you shall receive heavenly forgiveness.
Overall, repentance is a continuous process of recognition, change, and forgiveness. It is never a one-time act. More importantly, it is not just about seeking the forgiveness of God to avoid his rightful judgement, which is best seen in the history of Israel as told by Philip Wittig in Apostasy Can Lead a Nation to Self-Destruct. Repentance goes beyond self-interest. It is a noble choice to develop a closer and stronger relationship with the ever-forgiving and ever-loving God.