All throughout God’s Word we hear the call to repent from sin and wickedness and turn in obedience to God’s Word.

John the Baptist cried out to the crowds who came to see him “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 2:2) 

“Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19) said Peter to a crowd gathered in the temple in Jerusalem shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion. 

Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans that “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)

A Call to Continual Repentance

For Christians repentance is not just a one-time act, but as Martin Luther famously said, we know that all of life for the Christian is one of repentance. We must work continually to expose our sin to the light of God’s Word and therein turn from ever committing those same sins again. 

Okay, so we are to turn our backs on our sinful ways and never return to them again. Got it. That seems in large part “Evangelism 101”. Stop doing what you’ve been doing – there is a better way. Here, read God’s Word, do what it says. But what comes after repentance and why?

Well in one sense, nothing comes after repentance. Since we are sinners through and through, we’ll always struggle against the power of sin in our lives (read Romans 7). But in another sense we have the blood of Christ that frees us from the condemnation that sin brings (Romans 8:1), and makes us new men and women:

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything has become new. All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ
— 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Repent So That…

But the Holy Spirit spells out for us over and over in the Bible that we have been called to repentance for a particular reason. What is that reason? Let’s look to God’s Word.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness.” (1 Peter 2: 24)

“Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is Jesus, who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.” (Acts 3:19)

So God grants to us the possibility of repentance so that we would be changed people. The gift of repentance is not the final step; our responsibility as those who have received the ability to repent is to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” as John the Baptist told the crowds who came out to hear him preach (Matthew 3:8). Live to righteousness every day, for that is why you were set free. Choose to combat the forces of evil by obeying God with each and every decision you make. Make the choice daily to wake up, read God’s Word, spend time in prayer, love your neighbor as yourself, prepare your heart for worship, observe the Lord’s Day by worshiping Him in community at church, sacrifice your life for your spouse and your family, and pick up your cross daily and follow Jesus.

You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
— John 15: 4-5