Many of us are praying for a revival. Looking around at what has become of our country, many are praying for a revival – a return to serving our Lord. I believe that revival begins in each of our hearts, so I want to share below a devotional from Dr. Charles Stanley on what I believe is the most important first step – Genuine Repentance.
“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
Because we desire to be more like Jesus, we make resolutions, ask Him to help us, and try to behave differently. Yet despite our best efforts to do things God’s way, we slide back into old habits. Frustrated, we may ask Him, “Why can’t I change?” The reason is, overcoming sinful attitudes and behaviors starts with genuine repentance, which has three aspects.
- Conviction: The Holy Spirit will reveal the areas in which we’ve sinned and convict us of wrongdoing. Through Scripture, the Spirit shows us God’s standard and what needs to change. Repentance begins with understanding where we have gone astray.
- Contrition: The next step–grieving over our iniquity–is followed by confession to the Lord. Genuine sorrow arises from the knowledge that we’ve sinned against Him. In contrast, human unhappiness often comes from being caught misbehaving. Other times we are miserable because of where our choices led us, or feel shame that people know about our sin. True contrition is followed by humble confession.
- Commitment to act: Real repentance is complete when we wholeheartedly pledge to turn from our old behavior and move toward righteous ways. God knows we won’t live perfectly, but He looks for a surrendered heart that diligently seeks to obey Him.
Paul used strong language when telling us to turn from iniquity: “Put to death… whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5). What sin are you struggling to overcome? Have you genuinely repented, committing to turn from it permanently? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to change.