Repentance Refs
“Repent and be baptised.” Why is it so difficult to follow this simple command? This chapter looks at the difficulties and rewards of repentance and why it is worth doing.

Luke 19:1–10

It was bad enough to be forced to pay taxes to the Romans. But to have a fellow Jew collect Roman taxes was hard to stomach!
And the chief tax collector was the most hated of all. Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector, and Jesus was a guest in his house.
How could Jesus associate with a despicable man like this?

Jesus had a very good reason—“the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost”.
Luke 19:10 Zacchaeus was “lost”, he had no hope and was a “slave to sin”. By repenting, this lost man found God and salvation.

1. Why did Zacchaeus suddenly repent? What evidence did he have that Jesus spoke the truth?
2. Was it necessary for Zacchaeus to “pay back four times the amount”? What does this tell you about repentance?
3. Zacchaeus was a Jew. What was the point of Jesus calling Zacchaeus a “son of Abraham”?

I repent!
The word “repent” means to turn away. Turning away from sin and turning to God is the best decision you will ever make in your life. Repentance has a powerful effect on your feelings, your conscience, your thoughts and your life. Freedom from guilt and the “slavery of sin” is one of the greatest gifts God offers people, yet few people take it up. Why? Think about it: are you willing to turn away from sin, to reject what the world has to offer, and to dedicate your whole life to God? It’s a big commitment, but the decision is easy when you know the rewards:

1. a clear conscience and freedom from guilt;
2. being more like God;
3. eternal life and the opportunity to worship God forever.

First reward:
When Adam and Eve sinned, they felt guilty and tried to hide from God. Trying to cover-up and hide guilt normally doesn’t
work because your conscience is so strong—you always remember even if others don’t.
But see 1 Timothy 4:2

Actually, your conscience is a great blessing from God; it is very useful in helping you stop sinning. Without it, you would not feel the need to repent. As you get closer to God, your conscience becomes stronger and the temptation to sin is not as powerful.

If you repent, God forgives everything, absolutely everything; he will not bring it to mind.
Isaiah 43:25 You have a clean slate and are starting afresh—the burden of sin and guilt is gone forever.

Think about these two quotes:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Second reward:
Repentance results in positive change:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22–24)

Zacchaeus was so ashamed of his sins that he volunteered to give back four times the amount he owed. He made amends, and changed. Repentance dramatically affected Zacchaeus and he showed this by his generosity and public declaration.

Repentance is usually obvious—rejecting sin means rejecting worldliness and that makes you stand out in the crowd. Standing out is one of the most effective ways believers can witness to godless people—by being godly, you show others around you what God is like.

Although changing is often hard, it is worth it. Replacing sin with positive actions, such as generosity, love, peace and patience, naturally has a good effect on your life. For example:

• Being honest → people trust you.
• Being generous → people are willing to help you out.
• Being happy → people want to be with you.

How does being godly positively affect your life?

Third reward:

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:22–23)

Living forever is really hard to imagine. Will you get bored? What will you be able to do? Will you have friends? The Scriptures say that it is worth giving up everything to receive the gift of eternal life, so it must be unimaginably great! This gift is conditional—you must repent. God’s call to repent and reject sin, to be baptised and receive the promise of eternal life, is a wonderful offer you must not reject.

God, help me change!
Almost everyone can think of something they did wrong, tried to change but did it again, then again, and again. Sometimes a
particular sin can be habitual and changing takes persistence. For example, you may have a bad temper and sometimes “let fly”! Or perhaps you keep telling lies even though you feel bad about it. True repentance is to keep on trying to change, striving to be more godly and turning from sin.
See Chapter 21. Anger and Chapter 56.Honesty

Asking for help from God is vital and should be the first thing you do. Support from family, friends and fellow believers also makes it much easier to overcome.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Sometimes, we do not immediately see the need to repent. Therefore it is good to also ask God to show us the sin in our life, so that we are aware of what we need to change.

It is also helpful to search the scriptures to see why some behaviours and actions are considered sinful in God’s eyes.
This helps us to learn about God’s ways and makes us less inclined to want to do the opposite. It also makes us more aware of sin in our lives.

Matthew 3:2; Luke 13:3,5; Ezekiel 18:32
Signs of repentance
Job 42:6; Matthew 18:3; Luke 3:8; Acts 2:38
Time to repent
Revelation 2:21
Romans 2:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10

Deliberate sin
When you knowingly do something wrong, God is hurt. By deliberately sinning, you’re showing that you don’t love God and you don’t care. Even deliberate sin can be forgiven. However, if you keep on wilfully sinning, God will not forgive. You must change:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26–27)

There comes a time when God says “no more, enough is enough”. Noah preached, yet no one repented and turned from their sins. They rejected God, so he shut the door of the ark and they were destroyed. Likewise, ignoring the Father’s call to repentance, then hoping to be saved at the last minute, is testing God. Beware, the door may be shut.

Repent and be baptised
Peter told the people at Pentecost to “repent and be baptised” (Acts 2:38). It is a simple command and, for those who obey, there are great rewards.

. . . small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:14)

It can be difficult to follow but there is help along the way.

• Repentance means to turn away from sin and turn to God.
• Repentance means a change of heart, life and actions.
• Repentance makes us holy and pure in the sight of God.
• Repentance leads to the promise of eternal life.

1. Read Hebrews 6:4–6. Does this passage mean that believers who sin can’t be forgiven? What does the phrase“crucify Christ again” mean?
2. Consider the following list. How would repentance change these things in your life? Write down your feelings, weaknesses and strengths for each point. Be honest with yourself: is your life “in keeping with repentance”?

• The way you speak to your parents. • Your godly example to others.
• What your feelings are about going to the memorial meeting. • The quality of the movies you watch and the music you listen to.
• Prayer, how you speak to God by yourself and with your family. • What you talk about to your friends.
• What you spend your money on. • Your boyfriend/girlfriend.
• Willingness to do jobs at home. • The time you give to God.
• Personal Bible study and meditation. • What you talk about after Bible lectures and talks.
• Your career and goals in life.  

1. Read Matthew 3:1–12.

(a) How do we “produce fruit in keeping with repentance”? (v8)
(b) These verses show a progression involving confession, repentance, baptism and fruit. Why is each of these steps important?

2. Pick two Old Testament and two New Testament characters who sinned and repented. Compare each situation, their response and God’s response.

(a) How did they prove their repentance?
(b) How did repentance affect their lives?
(c) Did repentance save them from the natural consequences of sin?
(d) Does God treat sins differently?
(e) Why did they repent?

• The Christadelphians: what they believe and preach by Harry Tennant (published by The Christadelphian, 1986), Chapter 20 “Repentance and conversion”. 9 pages.
• Great news for the world by Alan Hayward (published by Christadelphians Worldwide, 1976). Chapter 4 “All change” discusses surrendering your life to God and being willing to change.

14. Holiness and obedience
17. Sin
29. Forgiving one another
38. Grace
48. Worry