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True Repentance

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper,
But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” (Proverbs 28:13)

We all picture God differently depending on our background and knowledge of Him. Concerning forgiveness and mercy, the Bible is very clear though: God will forgive anyone who is truly sorry and repents from sin. No matter what the sin is. In this lesson we will learn more about restoring the relationship between God and us through a humble heart and overflowing compassion.

“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)

These are the Messiah’s words about how heaven celebrates when a person turns away from sin. The forgiveness and restoration of man-kind is in the center of God’s attention and gives all of heaven great joy. It trumps everything else, including the righteous acts of those who are already believers. This teaches us something about God's heart, both as believers and seekers.

A Parable

Yeshua the Messiah often used parables – stories – to explain important truths. One of the most well-known concerning repentance is found in the gospel of Luke, please take a minute to read it through here: Luke 15:11-32 

In this story, the Father represents God who longs for His lost son, who feels compassion from afar and who celebrates the son’s return. The younger son represents all who realize their sins and repent. The older son are all those who already live in faith, but fail to understand God's heart for the lost.

The Three Elements in Repentance

What is also very educational in this parable is that it contains all three elements of repentance:
  • Understanding how awful our sins are (from verse 17): “But when he came to his senses…” When he realized what he had done, when reality caught up with him, then the options for his life became clear.
  • Action (verse 18): “I will get up and go to my father…” He knew about his father’s compassionate heart and decided to return to him, putting his life at his father’s mercy.
  • Deep emotions of guilt and regret (verse 21): “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Now, unless there’s forgiveness from God in reply to these emotions, they would totally destroy our lives. Praise God, there’s a way to complete forgiveness!

A Call from God

Sometimes God is so longing for us to be reconciled with Him, that he calls out to us on His own initiative, we will finish with such a famous quote:

“Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.” (Ezekiel 18:30-32)

Here, the prophet Ezekiel speaks to the nation of Israel about “casting away” transgressions and turning from death to life. It’s a call from the heart of God. From this we also learn to throw our sins away a long distance, not just drop them at our feet. Repentance means to rid ourselves of the sins and never to pick them up again. Also, note that it is we who do the throwing, not God. Repentance is always on our initiative, then God answers with redemption, which is paying the actual cost for forgiveness, but that’s in the next lesson.

Summary

  • God longs for us to be reconciled with Him
  • He is full of compassion and mercy
  • When we realize our sins and are struck by guilt, His forgiveness is always there
  • Turning from sin means throwing it a long way, without compromise or second thought.

A Prayer

Our Father who is in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come;
Your will be done
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)