Matthew 3:2 Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Luk 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
I have taken far too long to make this post, and for anyone who may follow this blog I apologize. When I was initially planning this 9 part series I felt that this post would be the easiest of the bunch to write about, but I am finding the opposite to be true. My temptation is to say that we must repent because an eternity of hellfire awaits us if we do not. That is certainly true, but it is cheap. If you repented for the sole purpose of gaining eternal comfort you will certainly find that your supposed repentance has no staying power. This is because you are not repenting away from yourself and unto God, instead you are simply turning towards your own man powered morality for the sake of your own eternal benefit. It is quite the opposite denying yourself, in fact if you had nothing to benefit from this repentance you would leave it be. What I am saying is that repentance is for God and not you, period.
Why then must we repent? For the true Christian this a foolish question because repentance is the desire of the Christian. The believer is broken over their sin and only desires repentance, and will not be satisfied until it is obtained. Repentance is so much more a part of the Christians salvation than we realize. When we view salvation we can break it into three parts, ‘I have been saved’ (justification), ‘I am being saved’ (sanctification), and I will be saved (glorification), repentance is the near equivalent of sanctification, or salvation from sin in the present. This salvation from present tense sin, sanctification, and repentance are nearly one and the same and are what separates true belief from false. The real believer desires salvation in the present tense and desires to repent accordingly.
So why will a Christian repent? Matt 3:2 ‘…for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ We recognize that we are ever in the presence of an omnipresent God and we desire to be pleasing to Him, which we cannot do without repentance. Moreover “there is much joy in heaven when sinners repent”; I understand that Luke 15:10 is referring to conversion, but it no doubt brings God joy when we who are His repent as well (we will discuss this in the post “continuing in repentance”). We repent to please our Lord. He is our heavenly father, and just like as children we tried to please our dad, and to bring him joy, we now try to please our real heavenly father.
I know I did not adequately cover this topic, maybe I will never be able to. To summarize: We repent to please God, and because it is our natural desire. We are broken when we must struggle for repentance, but that brokenness is a mark of true belief. We must never reduce repentance to a scheme to avoid the pit, and if that is what it is to you please seek God openly and honestly until He regenerates you. Do not rest, or even dare to close your eyes until repentance is the desire of your heart. When it is your desire you will begin to see the foolishness of a question like “Why must we repent.”
As a final note, it certainly pleases God when a sinner repents, and it is displeasing to God when someone does not repent. I believe in a completely sovereign God, but to those who place God’s sovereignty as His supreme attribute and let the rest of His attributes kind of follow from there I want to say this: Our God is not callous, He is not too powerful to meet you personally, and not too sovereign to be pleased or displeased with the actions of His people.