When you and I read the Bible, it’s important to remember that people haven't changed. Often, the Christians of the New Testament era had significant problems, just like Christians today. The early Church struggled with all of the same character issues as we do now: selfishness, anger, lust, power, sex, and truthfulness. Paul often had to preach repentance, just as preachers do—or should do—today. Do you ever need to repent? I sure do. So let’s listen to an instructive passage on repentance:
Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy. We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry and don’t give the devil a chance. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need. (Ephesians 4:23-32)
Paul’s words should give us pause. Let’s listen to the middle part of that passage again: “Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry and don’t give the devil a chance. If you are a thief, quit stealing.” What do you think about that? Paul isn't writing to unchurched people; he's writing to a Christian congregation in the first century! You would think that at least in the early church people had it all together a little more, but they were acting just like we Christians act today. Do you think that Christians today lie, get angry, or steal? The Apostle Paul helps us to understand what repentance means in very basic language. Repentance isn’t a mental exercise, a way to feel so that God will forgive us. As my friend Pastor Cottoms used to say, "Repentance means that we stop doing wrong and we start doing right."
Today, consider this question: Are you doing anything in your life right now that you know God doesn’t like? If so, today is a great day to repent. God will help you overcome that habitual sin when you stop doing wrong and start doing right, for Jesus' sake...and that's always very Good News!