Repentance is often trivialized yet this is one of the keys to entering heaven. The importance of repentance was emphasized by the Lord Jesus Christ when he said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt 4:17). It must be noted that this was his first message to kickstart his public ministry. This was the same message that John the Baptist preached to prepare the people for the coming kingdom.
Repentance is more than confessing our sins. John the Baptist stressed this when he said to those that were confessing their sin in response to his preaching, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8) The Scriptures unequivocally present the fact that sin is the ultimate hindrance in our entering the kingdom of heaven. The Lord Jesus also said, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). But what is required of us when we truly repent?
Renounce sin. When Israel was sinning against the Lord, he commanded the prophet Ezekiel to proclaim: “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (Eze 14:6) The Lord was commanding them to be true to their repentance by renouncing their wicked deeds. The blessing of repenting and renouncing sin is enormous. The Lord said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chro. 7:14).
Expose sin. Sin works best in dark places. For it to be dealt with effectively, it needs to be exposed in the Light. Jesus emphasized the power of sin in the dark when he said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20). The apostle Paul reiterated this by saying, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret” (Eph 5:11-12).
Purge sin. When King David sinned against the Lord, he cried out, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). When we sin, we could feel the uncleanness in our body and spirit. We need to be cleansed and purge sin from our system. There is no better way to be cleansed but by the blood of Jesus. The apostle Paul said, “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Heb. 9:14)
Excommunicate sin. Sin is repulsive and no one should enjoy its company. Paul emphasized the need to guard ourselves from the influence of sinners. He said, “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat” (1 Cor. 5:11). The reason he gave for such disassociation is this: “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Cor 15:33)
Neutralize sin. Sin is powerful and not easy to overcome. It comes as a friendly spirit but when it bites, it is deadly. No one can neutralize it but the Lord Jesus Christ himself, by his death on the cross. The Apostle Paul said, “”Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:54-57). And we neutralize the works of the devil through the blood of Jesus. In the Book of Revelation, we are told: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Rev. 12:11)
Turn to God. The final aspect of a true repentance is turning to God. Without it, there is no sincere repentance. The apostle Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19), Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isa. 55:7). Praise the Lord!