Many today ask the question: how shall the sinner be made righteous? The same question was asked by the multitudes on the Day of Pentecost, when, convicted of sin, they said, “What shall we do?” Peter answered them, “Repent” (Acts 2:37, 38). At another time, shortly after, he again said, “Repent, … and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning away from it.
There are many who fail to understand the true nature of repentance. These grieve that they have sinned and even make an outward change because they fear that their sins will bring suffering upon themselves. But this is not the true Biblical repentance. They sorrow after the suffering rather than the sin. Such was the sorrow of Esau when he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever.
In like manner, Balaam, fearing the angel standing in his pathway with drawn sword, admitted his guilt lest he should lose his life; but there was no true repentance for sin, no conversion of heart, and no hate to evil. Also, Judas Iscariot, after betraying his Lord, exclaimed, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4). But he lacked genuine sorrow for sin. The confession was forced from his guilty heart by an great sense of future judgement. And Pharaoh, when suffering under the judgments of God, admitted his sin in order to escape further punishment, but returned to his disobedience to God as soon as the plagues were stopped. These all lamented the results of sin, but did not have sorrow for the sin itself.
When the heart yields to the influence of the Spirit of God, the conscience will be moved, and the sinner will see something of the sacredness of God’s holy law. The “Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” illumines the secret chambers of the soul, and the hidden things of darkness are made manifest” (John 1:9).
Conviction takes hold of the mind and soul. The sinner yearns to be cleansed and to be restored to a relationship with God. And like David, he would say: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalm 32:1, 2; Psalm 51:1-14).
Christ gives repentance
The source of every good blessing is Christ (James 1:17). He, who ascended up on high and has given gifts unto men among these gifts is the gift of repentance and being righteous (Ephesians 4:8).
Some err when they think that they cannot come to Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true that repentance does come before the forgiveness of sins but should the sinner wait till, he has repented before he can come to Jesus? No. The Bible does not teach that the sinner must repent before he can come to Christ who calls all, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
It is Christ who leads sinners to genuine repentance. Peter said, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Jesus has said, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32). Christ draws all men to Him (Revelation 22:17).
Sinners must not wait for stronger convictions, for better opportunities, or for holier moments. They must come to Christ just as they are when they first hear His voice calling them. God will not save the rejectors of His grace. Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ hardens the heart to the tender pleading of God’s Holy Spirit.
Paul writes, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts” (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:7, 8). Therefore, be as zealous, as persistent, as you would be if your life were at stake. The matter of being righteous should be settled between your Creator and you, settled for eternity.
In His service,