It seems that we often overlook the true rewards of what the Bible refers to as repentance. The scriptures extol the virtues of faith, perseverance and the doing of good, but upon careful reading we find that repentance can be the most valuable of all the spiritual exercises.
Biblical repentance refers to the transformation of our attitude towards and involvement in sin. It is simply the process wherein we go from loving sin to hating it; from the pursuit of its pleasures to the fleeing from its very appearance.
Sincere repentance brings a number of blessings to the individual. For example:
1. Repentance avoids sure punishment for sin
David says, "If a man does not repent, He (God) will sharpen His sword" (Psalms 7:12). The clear indication here is that God prepares a judgement (sword) for those who refuse to repent.
2. Repentance leads to salvation
Paul teaches about a "…repentance without regret leading to salvation" (II Corinthians 7:10). We often forget that without repentance baptism is void of meaning and effect.
3. Repentance confirms our faith
John the Baptist called on people to demonstrate their faith in the Kingdom to come by doing works "…worthy of repentance" (Luke 3:8). Strong faith is the wellspring for our joy and peace, but sincere repentance is what keeps that source full.
The first sign of new faith or growing faith is a desire to "do better", to remove the old and take on a new attitude or action. This is the blessing of repentance working in us through the Word and the Spirit. We shouldn't stifle or frustrate it but rather should submit to our desire to repent and reap the rewards.