Martin Luther is most famous for his 95 Theses that were published on October 31, 1517, and which are seen as the start of the Reformation. The first is foundational:
“When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
These days with many calls to repent we get mighty confused about this whole business of repentance. What do we repent of? To whom is our repentance directed? And what are the consequences of our repentance?
When confusion reigns, we should always go back to God’s word – in this case I think Psalm 51 is a good place to focus. In this well-known psalm, King David is repenting of his sins of murder, adultery, and arguably of rape. But he does not repent to Uriah the Hittite whom he killed, or to Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife who he had taken wrongly, as we might expect. Instead, David directs his repentance to God.
“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that You might be found just when thou speak, and blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:4 NKJV)
God gave to David the gift of authority as the shepherd of His people. David abused that gift by using it for himself. God had given to David the gift of sexuality. He abused that gift as well.
God gives us the good gifts of our very lives, our positions in this world, and our possessions. We have been blessed to be His blessing to all around us. We repent of misusing God’s good gifts for our selfish purposes; we repent to God; and He has promised some consequences. Here’s a list of those to consider:
- Forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
- A clean heart; a renewed and right spirit – i.e., restoration and joy.
- A newness in me, in which I turn toward my neighbor with God’s gifts. I demonstrate true and godly repentance. I give to them from my gifts. I give them the greatest of gifts: God himself.
- In our repentance, God receives glory rather than myself; rather than any human.
God bless you and keep you in His grace.