Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
(Mark 1:14-15 ESV)
As another year passes behind us, many will be ambitious with their resolutions of a better life. Some will seek to loose weight, save more money, eat out less or spend time more with family. While all of these are desirable and noble tasks, we should start our year as Jesus began His ministry over 2,000 years ago. Jesus could have started His ministry with any words— after all—it is His ministry. Jesus specifically begins His ministry by calling for repentance and belief.
It is crucial to understand the implications of having repentance and belief rather than just repentance. When repentance and belief are coupled together, we have hope in the midst of confession. When repentance and belief are united, we have security knowing the sin we are confessing has been forgiven and paid for at the Cross. When repentance and belief are in harmony, I can be completely and totally honest about my sin because the Gospel declares me righteous and innocent.
Belief in the Gospel brings great hope to sinners because the Gospel declares over us, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Repentance is the act of confessing and turning from my sin so that Jesus becomes more glorious and beautiful to my soul. Sin has tainted my heart so that what is truly beautiful is ugly and what is ugly is beautiful. Repentance renews my heart and mind to see that Jesus is truly wonderful and sin is truly awful.
What exactly is repentance then? Charles Spurgeon is extremely helpful in this manner:
“Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved.”
When I believe the Gospel fully, that Christ has paid my debt fully, I am able to confess and repent of my sin fully, which leads me back to belief in the Gospel and adoration of God. Therefore, repentance is not some gloomy, melancholy word but a joyful submission to Christ and His Word. Repentance is the doorway to see the vileness of my sin and the beauty of the saving Cross, which beckons me to come and be healed.When I believe the Gospel fully, I am able to confess and repent of my sin fully. Click To Tweet
Therefore, this New Year let us actively be engaged in repentance and belief. Let’s resolve to actively and willfully confess our sins often and belief the Gospel daily. Believer, you are loved, cared for and delighted in because of the Cross of Christ—cast away that sin that is clinging to you and find everlasting joy in Christ. John Piper sums it up well:
“Repenting means experiencing a change of mind that now sees God as true and beautiful and worthy of all our praise and all our obedience.”