"Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]." Matt. 18:3 "Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. "Matt. 4:17. "Unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all perish and be lost eternally!" Lk. 13:3.(AMP)
Repentance means to hate my past sinful actions, change my mind for the better and heartily amend my ways. If I hate my sin, I am thoroughly disgusted with it. I no longer want anything to do with it. I abhor it, detest, loathe it. When I change my mind for the better I agree with God. I no longer view sin as normal, desirable, good, needful, fulfilling or exciting. I view sin as dark, deceptive, evil, abandoning, unfulfilling, a lie, wanting, empty. When I amend my ways it means that I've decided to agree with God and quit sinning. The first half of the two-fold gospel equation is all about repentance.
The second half of the equation is about trust. I can repent and be sorry for my sin but I must trust Jesus to forgive me of all past sins. No matter how big or how small, they are all forgiven. Then I must trust Jesus to empower me to live the life He wants me to. It's like this. I must say Lord, "I hate my sin and I want to turn away from it. I can't though. I've tried to do good and I've failed. If I'm going to live the life you want me to, you have to do it."
In confessing our weakness, our inability to do what God wants us to, we realize our great need of a savior. It becomes quite personal. When we confess our weakness we also pick up power. 2 Cor. 12:9. "When I am weak, then I am strong."
After repenting and trusting in Jesus, I found myself in the same areas of temptation but the power of temptation had been removed. It no longer took hold of me and slayed me. James 4:7. "Be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you." I experienced the power of this scripture after I repented and started trusting in Jesus.
Romans 8:1, John 3:18."Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live and walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit." In order to enjoy true life-peace and all the fruits of God, I must repent and trust in Jesus Christ. There is no other way. John 14:6, "I am the Truth and the Way and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) me."
Jesus summed up all the law in two commandments. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as you do yourself. Loving God encompasses the first half of the commandments and loving our neighbor the second.
How is it possible to attain a clear conscience and a pure heart wherein springs forth the love of God? There is only one way. We must prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight, level, and direct. This is why John (Elijah) comes first. What was the preaching of John? His message was one of repentance (think differently; change your mind, regretting your sins and changing your conduct) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. What were the first words of Jesus' public ministry? Repent (change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Change my mind? Think differently? Maybe we need to start agreeing with God as to what sin really is. Dark, deceptive, evil, wanton, depraved, addicting, corrupting, a lie, not true, abnormal. Maybe we should hate it. Maybe we should no longer view sin as desirable, enjoyable, needful, normal, blissful, or meaningful. Maybe we should repent.
If we don't get repentance right, how can we possibly in our right minds expect Jesus to forgive our sins and make us into new creatures? I've heard it said that repentance is a gift from God and that we just need to come to Jesus and that someday the gift of repentance will be bestowed upon us. Not true! Jesus said unless you repent, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. This is something we need to do. We need to change our minds and agree with God. When we do this, we put the clay in His hands. Now He can forgive us our sins and make us into new creatures.
We need to come to Jesus and we need to hear and obey His words. The law is what brings us to repentance and drives us into the arms of mercy and grace.
Paul said had it not been for the law, he would not have known he was a sinner. But when the commandment came, sin became exceedingly sinful. When the commandment of Jesus says "If any man lusts after a woman in his heart he commits adultery", I am convicted and convinced of my sin. I also understand the complete hopelessness, destitute, and corrupt condition of my soul. I understand because I can't stop doing it! What a wretched man I am. Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! It is possible to be free from the body of this death and not walk according to the flesh but to the Spirit!
Jesus said, "Don't come to Me before you count the cost". Luke 14:26-35. Are you willing to repent or change your mind about sin? Are you willing to quit hanging on to it as something needful and desirable? Will you agree with Me? Sin is dark, deceptive, evil, and it separates you from a right relationship with the God that made you. If so, come, and the word of God will grow in you as in good soil and you will have much fruit.
See also WhatDoesJesusSay.com