In the Christian faith we hear and talk about how we must seek and offer forgiveness, but there’s more to it than that. Forgiveness is without question required of us, but so is repentance — and that’s something we often overlook.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” – Acts 3:19
I’ve met, both in person and online, people who believe that in the Christian faith, one can sin at will and then at the end, just say they’re sorry and all will be forgiven. I can accept that non-Christians might have this inaccurate view of Christianity, but am shocked when Christians believe this. After all, if we were to live a life of hubris, anger, hatred, greed, debauchery and basically just being a terrible person, knowing all along that it was wrong, but not changing, how can one expect absolute forgiveness just by saying “sorry?” Take Hitler for example — a terrible, dark and evil man — would anyone think that at the end, he could simply say “forgive me” and have that forgiveness given? Its highly doubtful, especially if he knew all along that he was an evil man committing atrocities.
Forgiveness and Repentance
When we ask for forgiveness, we should not only be sincerely sorry, but also ready to change. Repenting comes from a change of heart and faith — inside, we realize we’ve been doing wrong and we not only want to stop, but we know we must stop. It is a change of heart because we want to be forgiven and we realize that Jesus is real and we can and should trust Him in all ways. Repenting comes from feeling cleansed of the sin and becoming energized and refreshed in the spirit, inspiring us to turn away from our wrongdoings. Forgiveness and repentance is not asking the Lord for forgiveness with the conscious intent to sin again — but rather, is wholeheartedly being prepared and willing to live a life of true faith and fully repent of our sins.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17
As Christians seeking forgiveness through Christ for our sins and misdeeds, we also need to offer forgiveness to others and this can go hand-in-hand with repentance. Sometimes we are quick to ask for forgiveness, but slow to give it. Someone may wrong us or anger us and we put up a wall and refuse to let go of the bitterness — we judge others and condemn them, being cold of heart. As we want to be forgiven, we should be willing to offer forgiveness to others as well — this is also repentance, because we are letting go of our own ego and in its place, putting faith that forgiveness is something we give, as well as ask for. As Christians, we should be willing to forgive and heal and offer to others the blessing of forgiveness we wish for ourselves.
“And that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” – Luke 24:47
Having faith means trusting and also being joyful. If we have true faith, we earnestly want forgiveness and we wholeheartedly want to repent. Forgiving others and being forgiven and turning away from our errant ways, is refreshing to our mind, body and soul. In order for us to thrive in the kind of life we’re meant to live, we have to be willing to love, share, forgive and reject the dark and negative things, thoughts and words that keep dragging us down.