This is Part 4 in a series on the Biblical Process of Change.
So you feel bad about something. Maybe you did something or said something that really hurt another person.
Maybe you are doing something that hurts yourself. Maybe you have been caught in something more serious and are feeling serious guilt. Whatever the case, we all have sin and struggles that we need to overcome. In the previous posts, we looked at the Hope for change we have in Jesus, the knowledge we need to gain of our standing according to God’s standard, and the conviction this knowledge should bring. So…what now? The question is, what do you do when you realize you have sinned against God and others and you feel guilt and sorrow over it?
The answer is a word that isn’t politically correct or popular anymore, but is essential if you really want to experience lasting change. The answer is repentance. The English word “repentance” comes from two words in the original Biblical languages which mean “to rethink” and “to turn away from,” which gives us a basic understanding of what repentance is. If you want to see this kind of repentance in the Bible, look to the example of David as he expresses sorrow over his sin in Psalm 51.
The truth is, we have to rethink our sin. It doesn’t make us happy, or help us like we thought. We have to see our sin how God sees it and think about it how He thinks about it. This should come through the teaching aspect of change we have discussed already. But repentance also means a change in action, a turning from sin, and this is where the process of change ends for so many. Repentance is an act of faith in Jesus, and we show our faith by our works (James 2:18). Repentance is not true repentance unless it is marked by a turn away from sin.
So, what, just try harder? That is NOT what the Bible teaches. Rather, to truly forsake sin, for lasting repentance, a person must discipline their lives for Godliness. This involves confession, accountability, encouragement, and the power of God working through the Holy Spirit in the lives of his people. We will discuss this 4th step in our final post on the subject next week.
Caleb Land is the Director of the Gilmer Christian Learning Center in Ellijay, GA. For more information about the CLC, visit www.gilmerclc.org.