Pastor Jeff Struecker

In our ongoing study of the Holy Spirit, we have been exploring the vital role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Today, we delve into how the Holy Spirit works within our souls, leading us to repentance. Repentance, often misunderstood and underestimated, plays a significant part in our journey of conversion. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we find ourselves drawn to Jesus and compelled to turn our lives around.

Understanding Repentance

In our ongoing study of the Holy Spirit, we have been exploring the vital role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Today, we delve into how the Holy Spirit works within our souls, leading us to repentance. Repentance, often misunderstood and underestimated, plays a significant part in our journey of conversion. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that we find ourselves drawn to Jesus and compelled to turn our lives around.

Let’s first establish what repentance truly means. Consider a scenario where you are driving to the store, only to realize halfway there that you have forgotten your wallet. In that moment, you recognize the need to turn back and retrieve your wallet before proceeding with your errand. This act of turning around is analogous to the biblical concept of repentance.

The Example of Saul’s Transformation

Repentance is a word we don’t often use in everyday conversations, and its full meaning is often overlooked. Even some preachers fail to provide a comprehensive explanation of this transformative process. To shed light on this topic, let’s examine the remarkable example of Saul, a Pharisee who vehemently opposed Christianity. Saul actively persecuted and even participated in the killing of Christians. However, during his journey to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him, resulting in a radical transformation. Saul, who would later become the great Apostle Paul, used the word “repentance” to describe the profound change that occurred within him.

Memory Verse

Acts 20:21 captures Paul’s testimony: “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance towards God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse emphasizes Paul’s mission to share the message of repentance and faith with both Jews and non-Jews alike. Repentance is not a mere afterthought; it holds equal importance alongside faith. While theologians have debated the order of these two components, let’s focus on the phrase “repentance towards God” for a moment.

The word “repentance” comprises two crucial aspects. Firstly, it involves recognizing that we are heading in the wrong direction, realizing that our current path is unfavorable. This recognition alone is not sufficient. The second aspect of repentance is actively turning around and redirecting our lives onto a new path. It is important to discern that belief alone does not encompass genuine repentance. Belief is the initial step, but true repentance requires a change of direction—a transformative U-turn towards God.

Paul’s choice of words in Acts 20:21 highlights this distinction. Repentance towards God implies the necessity of both belief and a complete turning away from our previous ways. By solely embracing belief without actively redirecting our lives, we remain aligned with the enemy, traveling down the broad road that leads to destruction. Repentance demands both mental assent and a tangible change in our actions.

It is crucial to grasp this concept, especially when encountering sermons that solely emphasize belief without underscoring the transformative power of repentance. The apostle James addresses this distinction in James 2:19, contrasting the faith of demons—who believe but do not change—with genuine repentance, which results in a transformed life.

Completing the U-turn

In our analogy of going to the store, merely believing that we forgot our wallet will not bring groceries into our hands. We must pause, make a U-turn, and head back home to retrieve the wallet. Similarly, believing alone without the subsequent change of direction falls short of true repentance. We need to genuinely acknowledge our wrong path, coupled with the power of the Holy Spirit, to guide us on the journey towards God. This brings us to a thought-provoking question:

A Challenge

When have you actually completed turning or repenting towards God to use Paul’s language? 

Repentance involves recognizing our wrong direction, believing in God’s truth, and actively redirecting our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us internalize the significance of repentance and its impact on our faith journey.

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