Change Begins with Repentance
Have you ever wanted something to change in your life, but didn’t know how to bring it about? I’m sure that we have all wanted various things in our lives to change. This is true of both believers and unbelievers. Why do we as human beings always want things to change? No matter what we have, we tend to want more of it or something different. This desire for change is part of being created in the image of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV2011) He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
Let’s focus on the phrase “God has set eternity in the human heart.” What is this eternity that God has put into every human heart? Eternity is the desire to live forever, the desire to have a relationship with God, the desire to live in a perfect world. It is all these things and much more, but eternity has to do with God.
Someone has said that God has placed a vacuum in every human heart that can only be filled with God. So, we seek to satisfy the longing for eternity, the longing for God by seeking change in our lives. Yet, only God can satisfy this longing for eternity in our hearts. Only God can bring us into eternity with Him where we will be completely satisfied.
Today, we’re going to look at how we can fill the void in our hearts in this life. Today’s message is entitled “Change Begins with Repentance.” Change in our lives doesn’t happen automatically. Change doesn’t always happen just because we pray for it to happen. Change begins with repentance, both for the unbeliever and the believer.
What is repentance? What does it mean to repent? To repent is to have a change of heart towards sin in our lives. Repentance is taking a 180 degree turn away from sin and towards God. So, repentance is running away from sin and running to God. That’s how a person is born again and receives eternal life, it begins with repentance.
Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) … Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus was saying that God’s got a wonderful kingdom that He wants you to be part of. Your first step in entering that Kingdom is to repent of your sin, turn away from it and believe in the gospel of Jesus. The message was the same for the early church in the book of Acts.
Acts 2:38 (ESV) And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
First step is exactly the same, repent of your sin. This initial repentance and belief brings you into God’s Kingdom, you are born again. But repentance is not just for unbelievers. Repentance is for people who sin, and we all sin in one way or another.
1 John 1:9 (ESV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
This verse was not written to unbelievers, but to believers. We also are to daily confess our sins, which is another way of repent. When we do that God forgives our sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness, that’s change.
How does repentance happen in the life of a believer? As we read and listen to God’s Word, the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to bring conviction of sin into our hearts. When we realize our sin, we repent and God works in our hearts bringing about change, so we sin less and less. Repentance in our lives leads to spiritual growth, becoming more and more like Jesus. Change begins with repentance. Let’s begin today’s study of the prophet Jeremiah by seeking to understand why believers stray into sin.