The Importance of Repentance

Last Wednesday began the Lenten season for many believers. Whether you practice this in your tradition, the time leading up to Easter should bring the crucifixion to mind. An important aspect of this is the need for repentance. Repentance allows us to experience the full weight of what Jesus did on the cross. A great model for repentance is found in David, who through the Psalms expresses his sinfulness to the Lord in complete confidence of the Lord’s forgiveness. 2 Samuel 12 shows some of the context to this repentance. After David has sinned against the Lord, the prophet Nathan rebukes David and tells him his child will die as a punishment. Nathan told him in verse 13, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.” David spent seven days on the ground in fasting before the Lord. When he found out that the child had died, he did not rebel in anger against the Lord. Instead, he accepted his punishment, rose from the ground and “went into the house of the Lord and worshipped” (verse 20). David had messed up severely and had experienced punishment at the hand of the Lord, but his response was to acknowledge his sin and punishment and return to the Lord in worship. We are told at the end of this story that David was given another son, whom the Lord loved, Solomon. In the midst of this brokenness, we are reminded of the Lord’s love and forgiveness.

When David repents before the Lord, he comes to the Lord asking for deliverance with confidence that the Lord can and will deliver him. He does not doubt the Lord’s ability to save him or the Lord’s love for him. Below is an example of one of David’s Psalms of deliverance.
Psalm 31: 1-5
In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!
 For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
 Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.
Though David had sinned grievously before the Lord, notice how he finds refuge in God’s salvation. It is not by David’s righteousness, but the Lord’s that he is saved. Notice also, the language that later would be used by Jesus at the moment of his death. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Jesus said in Luke 23:46. How does repentance help us to better understand the cross? Like in the case of David, God tells us that he has put away our sin and we will not have to die for it. However, through repentance, we recognize our own spiritual death and admit the need to be given life in Christ. Walter Wagerin wrote that Christ acts as a mirror, only when we see ourselves in His death, can we see ourselves in His resurrection. This is the picture of baptism Paul paints in Colossians 2:12, “having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

Think of the sinner crucified beside Christ, how audacious does his request seem? “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds,” he says to the other sinner. Then he looks to Christ and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:41-42). His boldness to ask such a question is remarkable, but it is exactly what is asked of us. We are that sinner, justly condemned, but what the Lord asks of us is to follow that sinner’s model. Acknowledge our sin in repentance and ask with confidence to receive the deliverance He died to give.
Dig Deeper
Read through the passage in Psalms above. Pray through these verses slowly, repenting of your sin and asking the Lord to deliver you in his righteousness like David did.

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