Week 9: Repentance
Just as sin separated Adam and Eve
from their creator, sin can also ruin a believer’s relationship with God. In
the history of Israel,
sin was always the reason for her downfall. The prophet Isaiah pointed out to
the people why God seemed so distant from them: “But your iniquities have
separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden
his face from you, So that he will not hear” (Isa
59:2). Our fellowship with the Lord can likewise suffer as a result of our
sins. If we do nothing about our sins, our hearts will soon be hardened and we
will turn away from the living God (Heb ,13).
Despite Israel’s rebellion, the Lord
offered them a way to restore their relationship with him. God cried out to
them, “Return to Me, and I will return to you” (Zech
1:3; Mal 3:7). Only when we turn away from sin and turn back to God’s way can
we once again enjoy the fellowship we had with God. As believers whose sins
have been cleansed by Christ’s blood, we still commit sins in our lives,
whether in our thoughts, speech, or actions. But we must learn to humbly return
to God when we have failed to obey him and ask for his forgiveness.
This lesson examines the meaning
of repentance and how we can restore our relationship with the Lord when we
Some Basic Principles
Confess Your Sin.
Nobody likes to admit that they
are wrong. Confession is humiliating. But the Bible tells us, “If we say that
we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I Jn 1:8). Denying our sin certainly doesn’t help us. We may
fool ourselves into thinking that we are pure and righteous, but we still stand
guilty before God. We just need to come to him, tell him that we are sorry, and
determine not to go back to sin. God’s love is so great that he will freely
pardon us when we repent: “If we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1Jn 1:9).
Let the Truth be our Guide.
The Bible is our moral standard,
and it helps us see where we have gone wrong. Like a mirror, God’s word points
out our shortcomings so we may correct ourselves (Jas 1:22-25). Like a
double-edged sword, God’s word exposes sins that we may not even be aware of
(Heb ). We need to
constantly examine ourselves against the teachings of the Scriptures. Then we
will not be led astray by sin’s deceitfulness.
Walk in the Light.
True repentance involves not only
confession but also change of heart and change of actions (Isa
55:7). In our daily living, we must shun evil and practice righteousness. “If
we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do
not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we
have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses
us from all sin” (1Jn 1:6,7).
God expects us to be forgiving
before he forgives us. Therefore in the Lord’s prayer, the Lord reminds us that
when we seek the Heavenly Father’s forgiveness, we also need to examine
ourselves to see if we have first forgiven “our debtors” (Mt 6:12). In the
parable of the unmerciful servant who refused to forgive his fellow servant for
a small debt even though he was forgiven of a much greater debt, the Lord
teaches us that the Heavenly Father treats each one of us the same way we deal
with our brothers (Mt 18:21-35). If we forgive our brothers from our hearts,
our Father will also forgive us of our sins.
Fear God and Shun Evil.
The Bible tells us that people
sin because they do not fear God (Rom ).
To fear God is to feel reverence for the all-knowing, all-present, and
all-powerful God. If we truly believe that God is our sovereign Lord, we will
obey his commands and stay away from evil. If we truly believe that “God will
bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or
evil” (Eccl ), we
will watch our thoughts and conducts.
Respond to Correction.
The believers in Corinth responded to
Paul’s correction in a positive manner (2 Cor ). Where before there were
divisions in the church, they now sought to worship together as one body. Where
before they mocked at the sanctity of marriage, they now promoted family
values. Where before they took each other to court, they now settled disputes
according to God’s commandments.
Let the Holy Spirit Counsel You.
Before Jesus was taken away from
his disciples, he promised them that the Holy Spirit will teach them and help
them remember all that he’s taught them (Jn 14:26).
This promise is also for today’s believers. So if you have sinned and the Holy
Spirit puts it in your heart to do the right thing, be prepared to listen to
counsel and act accordingly.
Fast and Pray.
Sin and repentance often go hand
in hand with fasting and prayer. We see this in the Bible. When the people of Nineveh learned that God
was going to destroy their great city in forty days, they immediately fasted
and prayed. The king even issued a proclamation, “Let neither
man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or
drink water” (Jon 3:7). The Bible tells us, “Then God saw their works, that
they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that he had
said he would bring upon them, and he did not do it” (Jon 3:10).
Write down other guidelines that
have worked for you.
Write down new guidelines that
could work for you.
What did the prophet Isaiah say was the reason
God seemed so distant? (Isa 59:2)
What happens to our hearts if we do nothing
about our sins? (Heb 3:12,13)
Read Zech 1:3 and Mal 3:7. Do you think God has
ever cried out to your with these words?
What does 1 Jn 1:8 -9
tell us about sin and repentance?
People sin because they do not fear God. T/F
Like the Corinthian believers, today’s believers
must also respond to correction in their faith journey. T/F
Jesus taught that believers must not hold
grudges against each other. T/F
What must a believer do when the Holy Spirit
moves him or her to repentance?
What did the people of Nineveh do when they learned that God was
going to destroy their city in forty days?
What does Jonah 3:10 tell you about sin and
loves to watch movies. Every opportunity she gets, she will try to get other
people to watch movies with her. She likes all kinds of movies. However, Olive
also loves to come to church to worship God, pray, and study the Bible.
Recently, Olive was put in charge of the Religious Education (R.E.) at her
local church. She has been doing an excellent job. In fact, Olive is one of the
most respected teachers among her R.E. students. One Sabbath Day, following
church services, Olive took all the children from her R.E. class to see a very
sexually explicit and violent blockbuster movie. There, she reminded the
children that they should not use movie stars or the plots in the movies as
models for their spiritual life. But over time, one of her students, a young
sister in the eighth grade, decides that it would be a good idea to get a
boyfriend. The young sister recalls how the good-looking hero in the movie had
intimate relationships with a number of beautiful women. The young sister is
excited about experiencing what it’s like to have a boyfriend. So the young
sister decides to start chasing one of the best-looking guys at her school.
Eventually, this young sister gets this popular guy at her school to go out on
a date. As time goes on, this guy wants to spend more and more time with the
young sister. In fact, he wants to spend so much time that this young sister
can no longer come to church on the Sabbath. Olive, her R.E. teacher is
concerned about this young sister’s faith. She calls her student and asks her
if she wants to go see a movie with her on Saturday night. The young sister
accepts Olive’s invitation and they go see a popular romantic comedy. What
problems can you see in this story? Can you find any Biblically-based sin in
this story? Is there any place for repentance in this story? Think about or
discuss the role sin and repentance could or should play in this story. Do you
see any obstacles that could hinder repentance here?
Johnny and Zack live in the same neighborhood
and go to the same local church. They spent much of their free time together.
However, all that changed after Zack got back the videocassette recorder he had
lent Johnny. Not only was the VCR case damaged, the machine would not work when
Zack tested it. Furious, he calls Johnny, who confesses that he had dropped it
accidentally. Zack tells Johnny that he better get him a new VCR. Johnny
refuses. The two brothers have a heated argument and no longer want to talk to
each other. At the Sabbath day service, Zack sees Johnny at church and feels
disgusted. As time went by, Zack feels like he no longer enjoys coming to
church. But he does anyway. He simply ignores Johnny and gives him an
occasional dirty look. About a month later, Johnny feels bad about the whole
incident and brings Zack a state-of-the-art VCR one Sabbath Day. It is even
better than the old one. As Johnny is giving the new VCR to Zack, the latter
simply snatches the VCR out of Johnny’s hands and says, “It’s about time!”
Other members try to patch up the relationship between these two brothers, but
Zack only drove away with the VCR. What problems do you see in this story? How
would repentance help resolve the problems between these two brothers? What
obstacles do you see that could hinder repentance here?
a short list of things you think you need to repent of (i.e., what you could
improve upon or change your mind and actions about). After making your list of
things to repent about, think about how you will go about repenting of each sin
or vice. Try to repent of these sins and vices, bearing in mind that process of
sin and repentance is often a life-long process. Be patient with yourself and
pray for God’s empowerment to overcome sin. Remember also that while repentance
begins with a turn of mind, repentance means nothing if there is no outward manifestation to support the changes in your