To repent is to turn away from and give up your sins. It is both a change of mind and a change of direction, where you used to be headed in one direction, but then you turn and go in the opposite direction. The first words of John the Baptist’s ministry were: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” The first words of Jesus’ ministry in the gospel of Luke were also “repent”, as it was for the apostles at Pentecost. Clearly, this is an integral, necessary part of our walk with God. As I would explain it, we are initially saved through ‘Repentance unto Salvation’, where each of us acknowledges that: “I am a sinner, I am a lawbreaker in the sight of God,” and where we fall upon the mercy of Jesus for our forgiveness. Then once we have received Salvation, there is a call for ongoing repentance wherever we discover sin operating in our lives. For the new life within us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, now gives us the power to say ‘no’ to sin and get it out of our lives.
Confession, in its basic meaning, is to “say the same”; it is to admit your sin and to agree with God about what is right and what is wrong. We are called to do this also, that as we are turning from sin, we name it before God, for example: “God, my reaction to that situation was one of jealousy, and the words that I used were not honouring to the person involved, and I am sorry for that. I give that up and I turn from it. Please help me to be content with what I have and to honour others with my words, amen.” By doing this we are adding to our repentance words of conviction and of agreement with God and are declaring what is right and just in his sight.
Examples of calls for Confession and Repentance in Scripture:
Confession – 2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalm 51, Psalm 32:5, Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:19
Repentance – Ezekiel 18:32, Isaiah 30:15, Matthew 4:17, Luke 26:46-47, Acts 2:38, 2 Corinthians 7:10