Matt.3:2,3 – “The realm of heaven’s kingdom is about to appear—so you’d better keep turning away from evil and turn back to God!”
Isaiah was referring to John when he prophesied:
A thunderous voice! One will be crying out in the wilderness,
“Prepare yourself for the Lord’s coming
and level a straight path inside your hearts for him.”
“Repent, the kingdom of God is at hand.” This was the message that John the Baptist and Jesus were preaching. Repentance is a sure sign that God is at work. How do I know that? Well, that is exactly what the Bible says. The Jews were hesitant to allow gentiles into the fellowship of the church until they saw true repentance from sin. You can see this in Acts11:18 “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life”.” The Jewish believers in Jerusalem accepted the gentiles who were converted in Peter’s ministry because they saw the fruit of repentance.
Repentance is more than feeling bad about sin or even making a quality decision to change your ways. How many times have we all tried to change and it didn’t work out too well? Repentance is the work of God. It is the effect grace has upon us, we see the loveliness of Jesus and we want to change. We want to know Him and repentance is the way all of that happens. Here is how Brian Simmons describes this in the Passion Notes.
“John was preaching in Aramaic, the language of the day. The word for “repent” in both Hebrew and Aramaic means “to return to God [and leave your sins behind].” This is much more than simply changing your mind; it is a powerful term for turning your life around and coming back to the holy God.”
Repentance is hard to the unsaved mind (actually it is impossible) The reason repentance doesn’t work just based on a decision is because our behavior is ultimately decided by the things we love. We pay money to see a football game because we enjoy it. We save up our money for a special vacation simply for the pleasure involved. This is how repentance works. The Lord actually changes what we view as pleasurable. We see the beauty of Christ and that is all it takes, we desire different things. That is how God grants repentance and that is how we can be completely changed.