How to Repent as a Christian
Repentance is a large part of the Christian faith, and it precedes the forgiveness of sins. To repent is to show remorse and regret over sin, and to turn away from it. Before the coming of Christ, John the baptist preached the message of repentance. “In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 3:1-2).
When Jesus came onto the scene, He too preached the same message of repentance. “From that time on Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 4:17). The good news is that when we believe in Jesus, He forgives our sins and cleanses us from unrighteousness.
How Do You Repent as a Christian?
1) Acknowledge your sins
The first step in repentance is acknowledging that you have sinned and need God’s forgiveness. Looking inward and reflecting on where we have not obeyed God’s commands will reveal the sin in our hearts. “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”( Psalm 32:5).
As a Christian, you are not perfect and will sin at one point or another. However, you are not a slave to sin because Jesus redeemed you from this kind of slavery. God forgives us when we repent and we don’t need to fear His wrath. In Christ, God shows us mercy when we confess our sins to Him. As we search our hearts, God reveals to us the areas in our lives where we are not walking according to His will.
2) Repent of your sins
After acknowledging your sins, turn to God and repent of them. Tell Him that you recognize that you have sinned against Him, and ask Him to forgive you. Even if you are feeling scared, pour out your heart to God knowing that He is a loving and compassionate Father who wants to forgive and heal you. In Hebrews 8:12 God gives us His promise after repentance, “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
You can also ask God to show you if there are any sins that are deep in your heart that you are not aware of. Psalm 19:1 shows us that we could actually have hidden sins and not know it. It says, “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.” Being honest with God will give you a sense of relief because your heart will be lighter.
3) Produce godly fruit after repenting
After confessing your sins to God you need to turn away from them. Repentance is not only admitting your sins to God but doing everything you can to ensure you don’t repeat those sins again. According to Matthew 3:8, we are to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. This means that your repentance should produce actions that are righteous and godly.
When you are sorrowful about your sins, you will not repeat them because you know their damaging effects. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Repentance leaves you with no regrets because you open the way for God to help you deal with the consequences of your sins.
Repentance gives you a chance to be right with God and live according to His ways. No matter what you have done, you can go before God and He will forgive you. Jesus died for the forgiveness of your sins, and in Him you always have the assurance of His forgiveness.
Examples of Repentance in the Bible
The People of Nineveh
God sent the prophet Jonah to tell the people of Nineveh that they faced judgment for their evil ways. Jonah didn’t go at first, and got into a ship going to Tarshish. Facing difficulties along the way, he ended up in the belly of a whale and then finally went to Nineveh. He told the people there that they needed to repent or face God’s wrath. When the king of that land heard the warning message, he called for everyone to fast and give up their evil ways. The people obeyed and turned from their wickedness and received God’s forgiveness. “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” (Jonah 3:10).
God is compassionate and wants to save us from the consequences of our sins like He did with the people of Nineveh. When He reveals sin, it is forgive it and not to condemn you.
When king David summoned Bathsheba and lay with her, she became pregnant. David looked for a way to cover up the sin and decided to ask Bathsheba to lay with her husband so that she would pin the pregnancy on him. That didn’t work and David orchestrated the death of her husband by putting him on the battle front line. He was one of David’s soldiers and during the battle, he was killed.
David married Bathsheba and assumed everything was okay. This was until the prophet Nathan came and rebuked him of his sin. David then repented of his sin and Nathan told him he was forgiven. “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die’” (2 Samuel 12:13). God forgave David after He repented and spared his life. David was a godly man despite the mistake he made with Bathsheba. He always trusted that God would forgive him when he sinned.
God sent Jesus to earth to die for the forgiveness of our sins. He knew that we needed a Savior to take away our sins when we repent. When you sin, instead of turning away from God, turn to Him in repentance and receive His forgiveness.