Recognizing our sins is not enough; it must be accompanied by repentance. The biblical meaning of repentance includes three aspects: acknowledgment of one’s sin, sorrow for having sinned, and the desire not to sin any more. If one is lacking, there is no true repentance. For example, Judas admitted his sin, but he lacked grief for having betrayed the Master (Matt. 27:3-4). He was overwhelmed with remorse, not with repentance. His confession was generated by fear of the consequences, not by his love of Christ.
We can see the importance of repentance by the fact that John the Baptist and Jesus began their ministry by preaching, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! (Matt. 3:2, Matt 4:17, NKJV). Later, when Jesus sent the Twelve on their first missionary trip, they went out, preaching that people should repent (Mark 6:12, NKJV). And after Pentecost, Peter exhorted the crowd to do the same (Acts 2:38, 3:19).
Look at the strong words Jesus used to emphasize the universal need for repentance in order to be saved. What message is He giving us here? See Luke 13:1-5.
Jesus affirmed the sinfulness of all people. Therefore, He urged His hearers: unless you repent you will all likewise perish (vs. 5, NKJV). Without repentance, redemption is impossible, because the absence of repentance demonstrates that people refuse to surrender to the Lord.
Now, we have been told: the goodness of God leads you to repentance (Rom. 2:4, NKJV). What does that mean? A block of ice can be broken into small pieces, but the resulting pieces will still be ice. That same block of ice can be placed next to a heater, and it will melt away into water. The ice of our pride can be thawed only if we are exposed to the warmth of God’s goodness and love. Thus, how crucial for us to dwell, as much as we can, on all the evidences we have been given of God’s love for us.
“We do not repent in order that God may love us, but He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent.” — Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 189.
What are the evidences of God’s love? What have you seen and experienced and learned that gives you powerful reasons to trust in His goodness? Why is it so important always to dwell on those reasons, especially in bad times?