In the New Testament, Jesus taught, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). And Peter taught, “Repent, and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And in the Old Testament, the Lord commanded, “Make you a new heart and a new spirit” (Ezekiel 36:26). The basic idea of Hebrew word for repentance is “to turn.” According to this definition, people forsake their sins. And the resultant meaning is to have a different mind and behavior afterward.
The role of the believer
Repentance doesn’t mean that man can save himself by his own strength. But there is a role that a person must do in the work of salvation. Sin has its root in the mind. The soul plans the sinful act before desire can control reason. The root of sin, then, comes from the mind that causes man to choose the evil course. The solution to the problem is to correct this basic outlook. This is what repentance is intended to do. A change must take place in the mind of a person.
The Bible tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). True repentance, then, is a job of the mind. It includes an in-depth examining of the life to see what factors led to sin, and also an examination as to how the sin can be avoided in the future. Thus, repentance is the process whereby sin is excluded from the life (Galatians 5:16-18). The Lord cannot forgive sins that are still present in the mind.
The reason many believers fail in their Christian experience is that they have never truly allowed the Holy Spirit to change their thinking concerning that sin (Ephesians 4:23); they have never taken their sins to heart, to find how, by the empowering grace of God, they might have full victory over those sins.
To really repent, a person must understand the repentance relationship to confession. This is the reason why the Bible stresses repentance rather than confession. Confession without repentance is worthless. Once repented of, a sin can be confessed, and it will be forgiven (1 John 1:9).
The role of God
The Lord doesn’t force a person without his permission and cooperation (Joshua 24:15). And He gives the Holy Spirit to help the believer in convicting him of sin and also in overcoming it (Luke 11:9-11). It is not possible for the person to do the change on his own (John 15:5). But when he chooses to make the change and asks, God for help, the Lord hears his prayer and gives him power from above and the propensity of the mind is corrected (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 2:14).
When the divine commands are sincerely kept by the believers, the Lord makes Himself responsible for the success of the work of transformation. In Christ, there is power to fulfill duty, strength to resist temptation and grace to endure trials. So that the believers can proclaim: “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us“ (Romans 8:37). The One who loved His children unto death is even now living in them to continue the work of their salvation (Galatians 2:20).
In His service,