Are we ready to turn our backs on sin and follow Jesus? He will give us the strength to do what He has called us to do.
Sometimes we confuse remorse or regret with repentance. The person who gets caught lying is sorry. The criminal who is arrested is sorry. But did they repent? We don’t know. Maybe the person who lied will just be more careful next time. And the criminal will plot their next crime with more foresight. Regret is not repentance.
For example, Exodus 9:27 tells us that Pharaoh, who was hardened in his sin, recognized that sin existed. “And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them : I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked (NKJV).” That’s fine, but he continued to sin against God, and finally, God judged him. He never came to faith. Saul, the king of Israel, said to Samuel: “… I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice” (1 Samuel 15:24 NKJV). But does this mean that he changed his life? No. He went on as he had lived, and he wasted his life. The Bible also tells us of a wealthy young ruler who approached Jesus, wanting to know how to have eternal life. Jesus gave him the answer, and he went away sad but not repentant (Matthew 19:22). Even Judas Iscariot was sorry because he had betrayed Jesus. But he did nothing with his grief. It did not lead him to repentance (Matthew 27:5).
It’s not enough to be sorry. We have to do something about it. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV). Repentance means we are ready to change. Repentance means being sorry enough, being ashamed enough of what we have done, to stop. It’s not enough to be sorry. God’s people must be hurt enough to repent of the sins they have committed.
And this is another problem of our generation. It makes you wonder if people still know what shame is. Things that once bothered us are now proclaimed as virtues. Everything is upside down. Evil has become good. Good has become evil. We forgot how to blush. That is what Daniel was describing when he prayed: “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You” (Daniel 9:8 NKJV). And Daniel personally repented.
Throughout the book of Daniel, we do not read that Daniel sinned. That does not mean he lived a sinless life because he was human like all of us. But Daniel lived a Godly life. This man of God nevertheless felt that personal repentance was necessary because he did not want unconfessed sin to interfere with his relationship with God.
It reminds us that the closer we come to God, the greater the sense of our sinfulness. Just when we think we are reaching spiritual maturity, God will show us a little more of our hearts, and we will realize how far we need to go. The more we know about the Lord, the more we will see that we still need to change. There is no spiritual plateau where we will finally be above it all. It will not happen in this lifetime. The more we grow, the more we realize that we need to grow. The more we learn, the more we will realize that we need to know more. But it’s a great pursuit.
Is there a sin we should repent of? Is there an area of our life that is displeasing to the Lord? Don’t let it get in the way of our relationship with God. Let’s get rid of it. Let it go.