By Donald Willis
One of the most severe commands that has issued from the mouth of God is the command to repent. This is the most difficult of all the instruction that God has given … due to the arrogance of man. It is extremely hard to admit error, especially when it denotes the secret actions of the heart. Man possesses pride in the moral stature attained. Man is able to completely hide many of the wrong actions of past behavior until forgotten by man. Thinking God to be like man, he wrongly reasons that God has forgotten these actions too.
Man attempts to live down a former wrong. Man reasons that it is possible for moral credits (good deeds performed) to nullify moral deficiencies (past wrongs). Such cannot be done! Sin is a violation of the will of God (I Jno. 3:4). Sin separates a being from God (Isa. 59:1-2). One cannot undo this separation, saving through the medium that the Lord has authorized. In this, God requires that a man repent of the past actions of life.
Christ said that “. . . repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Lk. 24:47). Repentance means to change one’s mind or purpose, always, in the N.T., involving a change for the better…” (Vine) Thayer adds, “. . . to change one’s mind for the better; heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.” Repentance is not merely a change of mind, but is also the hating of the errors of the past, and a resolution to live better (fruits meet for repentance). One, after repentance, would not long for the former actions of life.
Christ taught that repentance is to be preached under the new dispensation. Peter told believers to “… repent and be baptized . . . for the remission of sins. . . .” (Acts 2:38) This is positive preaching of the commission as given to the apostles. Paul told idolaters God had “winked at” their sin, but “… now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
It takes gallantry to admit past wrongs and current conviction in Christ. Obeying the laws of Christ leads to the remission of sins (Heb. 5:9). How courageous are you, neighbor? Will you repent of your sins that life might be given to you (Acts 11:18)?
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 28, p. 13
May 18, 1972