Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord (Acts 3:19).
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. 20 Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah (Acts 3:19-20 - NLT).
Repentance plays an important role in a fresh move of the Holy Spirit in individual lives, in a church, and in a nation. John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus to begin His ministry: In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was: Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near (Matthew 3:1-2).
Israel had turned away from the Lord. They had worshipped false gods in the place of Jehovah. Judgment was coming. After calling for repentance, Joel prophesied a great move of the Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). Listen to the call to repentance that preceded the word of a coming revival:
Now, therefore, says the Lord, turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him — A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly; gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children and nursing babes; let the bridegroom go out from his chamber, and the bride from her dressing room. Let the priests, who minister to the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar; let them say, Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not give Your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, Where is their God? (Joel 2:12-17).
Our nation has fallen away from God. Self centered living and self focus has moved us away from what once made our nation great. Believers have many times assumed the attitudes and actions of our post-christian culture. We need God desperately!
I believe the Lord is calling us to repentance today so that He can move in a fresh way by the Holy Spirit in our personal lives, in our churches, and in our nation. Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT): Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Repentance has three ingredients. When I repent I must renounce, repent, and obey. First I must renounce any area of disobedience, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. When light comes into my life, I am responsible to walk in it or darkness will invade and blind me. When God deals with me about an area of life that needs to change, I must be willing to say, Lord, I realize that is wrong, and I ask you to help me with your grace and power to stop that in my life. That is what it means to renounce something.
Repentance is a mental and willful as well as a heart felt “about-face;” a 180 degree turn in the opposite direction. I change the course of an area of life. It is a decision of the heart that produces a lifestyle change in me. I renounce and willfully choose to step away from what I have been doing.
To repent I must also submit. That is, I must allow the Word of God to saturate my mind and heart, and then I must willfully choose to submit and obey it. But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves (James 1:22 - NLT). When I submit to God in an area where He is dealing with me, I go to the Word and let His word rule me in that area.
For instance, if I have been using slang words that I know are wrong, or if I have been gossiping about others and saying things about them that I know I should not, and the Holy Spirit convicts me, then I must renounce the behavior. Renounce it by confessing it as sin (see 1 John 1:9). Then I go to the word, and submit myself to what it says, and decide to do what it says. Ephesians 4:29 (NLT) says: Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
I choose to submit my words to line up with that scripture. That is what it means to submit.
Lastly, to repent I must obey. I must decide moment by moment to obey my conscience and the tender tug of the Holy Spirit as I walk through each day and its demanded choices. Renounce, submit, and obey must become my lifestyle.
So, to use my earlier illustration about words, I choose to obey God when the habit comes back up and I say that slang, wrong word, or when I engage in gossip that hurts someone’s character. I read Ephesians 4:29 over and over, and when the temptation comes to curse, or to engage in gossip, I choose to obey God instead. And I ask Him to forgive me and cleanse me, and I ask Him to help me not to go there and commit that act again.
The Father wants us to live a lifestyle of repentance. When we do, we can expect times of refreshing from the Father’s awesome presence in our personal lives. Then, as we act in corporate repentance, we can expect times of refreshing in our churches and in our nation. Walk with me today into repentance: renounce, submit, and obey!