When John the Baptist began his ministry his message was; “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2) Then, after Jesus heard that John was arrested, he took up the same refrain; “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”(Matthew 4:17) And what did Peter say to the crowd after his first big sermon on the day of Pentecost? “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. (Acts 2:38)
Repentance is not just being sorry you got caught or even being sorry that what you did was wrong. Real repentance seizes you at the deepest level of your soul. For instance, when that big Pentecost crowd heard Peter’s sermon, Acts 2:37 says; “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart“ and they cried out; “What shall we do?”
I felt something similar when I was first saved in 1977. I remember a deep grief of spirit that lasted many days as all of the sins of my life came up before me one by one. I saw how grievously I had offended God and hurt other people and myself. I confessed and repented of each sin until I felt deep down clean and fresh. Now I was ready to begin a new walk with God.
Have you decided to follow Jesus? If you have tried to jump on the track past the starting gate, I suggest you back up and start over. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through the process of repentance. Remember: if you want to run the race the right way and finish strong, always start at the beginning.