Imagine driving a car down a one way street the wrong way. Foolish and dangerous. Unfortunately, some do drive the wrong way out of ignorance and some out of sheer rebellion.

There is also a spiritual parallel here. Be it out of ignorance or rebellion, we are all on a dangerous one way street where the destination is death.

Repentance means to turn completely around, 180 degrees, and begin to travel in the opposite, but the right direction.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
Acts 2:38ff

Until we repent and begin following Jesus Christ, every step leads us the wrong way. The further we travel down this wrong way the further from God we get… and eventually this will lead to separation from God for all eternity.

Sorrow -> Repentance -> Fruit

When we are genuinely sorry for our sins, real repentance begins.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow makes no excuses, takes full responsibility, never places blame on people, society or our circumstances.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Psalm 32:5

Godly sorrow simply acknowledges that our sin is against God. Godly sorrow is where our heart is broken because we have realised we have offended a Holy God. Only Godly sorrow brings about genuine repentance and from there, a changed life.

However, worldly sorrow is full of excuses – it blames everyone else. Worldly sorrow is just being sorry for being caught out. Or worldly sorrow comes about because we have to suffer the consequences of sin.

The difference between a healthy tree and an unhealthy tree is seen in it’s fruit.

…I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.
Acts 26:20ff

The difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow is also seen in it’s fruit, that is, our deeds.

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
Matthew 3:8

Worldy sorrow never produces the fruit that is reflected in a changed life. Worldly sorrow can only produce spiritual death.

Repentance and Forgiveness

An example of genuine repentance can be found in the story of the prodigal son:

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
Luke 15:11-24

When the wayward son came to his senses, he walked away from his chosen life of sin and rebellion. He made a 180 degree turn and headed back towards his father. His father, when seeing him heading back towards him, ran towards his son, forgave him and received him back into his family.

In the same way, our Heavenly Father, when seeing us repent of our sins, will forgive us too.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…
Acts 3:19

Imagine now an ink stain on a favorite shirt. You try and try to wash it out, but the stain just won’t go. Then you find a stain remover that not only removes the stain totally, but also restores the shirt like new. This is exactly what happens when we repent of our sins and receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Not only does Jesus cleanse sin’s stain of guilt and shame from our hearts, He also gives us a new heart.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

No looking back!

Repentance is to turn our back on sin and turn toward God. We must no longer trust in our own good deeds, religious activity and ways of doing things. We start to trust in Jesus Christ alone. Once we were traveling in the wrong direction but now we have turned and are now traveling in the right direction. No longer are we running from God but we have now chosen to walk with God.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret…
2 Corinthians 7:10

Through repentance we have begun a new life. Our new life is filled with purpose and meaning. Turning to God means no regrets and no looking back!

Now, for your further consideration

  1. Is your life heading in a new direction?
  2. Are there sinful areas in your life that are still a struggle?
  3. Are there areas of intense temptation or consistent weakness that you need prayer for?
  4. Are there sins you have turned away from, yet still feel condemned about?