Last week, we looked at the characteristics of a backslidden heart. Most of us left here with a lot of conviction. Now, what shall we do with that conviction?

Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Many of us have these verses memorized and don’t give them much thought anymore because we have been baptized. But, notice the word “repent”. Do we know what it means? Repentance is not a singular event. It is a lifestyle. Too many people have the idea that God is so loving, and gentle, and kind that all we need do is to say we feel sorry for the wrong we have done and promise to do better. That is not repentance.

Repentance begins with a godly sorrow and regret for what one has done or left undone, leading to a change in one’s mind and actions. More than that, repentance puts no hope or reliance in ourselves being able to do right. Repentance is an act of faith in the Atonement of Jesus, which will make us what we have never been—righteous. The righteousness of Christ is given to us when we repent and are baptized. Therefore, the conditions for our salvation are faith and repentance. Faith and repentance must continue after baptism. Faith and repentance are the life-style of believers in Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 28:13-14 He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Blessed is the man who always fears the LORD, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

Our sin may cause us to be remorseful with worldly sorrow, but our heart may still be backslidden—more in love with self than with God. But, if we turn to God because our heart is grieved with godly sorrow, this causes us to give up our self-rule and make Jesus our Lord. That is repentance. As a result, we walk by the Holy Spirit in continuous faith, repentance, and fear of God.

There is no protection from just hearing the Word. Hearing God’s Word and not repenting leads to disaster. We must hear the Lord in His Word and do what He says.

Luke 6:46-49 "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."

The popular religion of today is: Ignore sin, God loves you, everyone goes to Heaven; if you make mistakes, forgive yourself; focus on your goals, and you will have a prosperous life. Unfortunately, for those who accept this religion, there is no conviction of sin, no repentance, no forgiveness of sin, and no true faith. Jesus is not Lord because there is no obedience. Man is his own god, regardless of what is proclaimed. He is deceived.

James 1:22-25 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

Jesus said in John 14:15-17 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.”

Only the repentant person is obedient to Christ and has the grace to be a holy person, the opposite of what they were, because something has entered them. Any person, who knows himself, knows that he cannot be holy. Therefore, if he does become holy, it is because God, the Holy Spirit, has come into him. He is now able to bring forth fruits of faith and repentance, the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God is patiently waiting for us to come to repentance.

Are we blaming any of our relatives or someone else for our present condition? Then our consequences will go on until we blame them no more. As long as we have any remnant of an idea that we should be excused, for any reason, other than by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our consequences will continue.

Our guilt ends when we stop blaming others and begin confessing our sin. When we stop blaming everything but ourselves, then we are ready to repent and receive forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then God’s blessings will come into our life.

2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

God’s love is unconditional. However, as we can see, God’s forgiveness is conditional. God does not forgive a person unless they recognize the need for forgiveness and humble themselves to receive it by praying. We may talk as much as we like about forgiveness, but it will never make any difference to us unless we realize that we need it, confess our sin, and humbly pray to God to receive His forgiveness and His grace to repent.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

God can never forgive the person who does not want to be forgiven, or changed, or thinks their righteousness is as good as anybody else’s. If we think it is not necessary to confess our sin, repent, accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and humbly submit to baptism, there is no salvation or forgiveness with such a prideful attitude. Salvation is associated with contrition and humility, leading to repentance.

The entrance into the Kingdom is through the pains of contrition and humility, destroying a person’s respectable view of themselves. Then the Holy Ghost, Who produces this pain, gives us the grace to repent.

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Conviction of sin with godly sorrow leading to repentance, is one of the rarest things that ever strikes a person. Jesus Christ said that when the Holy Spirit comes, He would convict us of sin (John 16:8). When the Holy Spirit arouses a person’s conscience and brings them into the presence of God, it is not their relationship with mankind that bothers them, but their relationship with God. They realize they are God’s enemy.

When people really see themselves as the Lord Jesus Christ sees them, it is not the horrible social sins of the flesh that shock them. It is the awful nature of satanic pride in their own heart against the Lord Jesus Christ! It is God’s gift of repentance when we feel the shame, the horror, and the desperate conviction that comes from seeing ourselves in the light of Jesus Christ. (i.e. Paul on Damascus road)

Anything less than this is remorse for having made blunders, the reflex action of disgust at ourselves. It is like the reaction of a man after a drinking spell; he is sorry he did it, but his remorse is not repentance. Remorse says, “I will never do that again”, but repentance is God’s grace that takes us on the path to become the opposite of what we have been.

The deepest repentance is not in the sinner, but in the saint. When the Holy Spirit comes into us, our whole nature is in a desperate turmoil, because we see the holiness of Jesus and we see how totally corrupt we actually are. (i.e. last week for some)

We also become deeply thankful for the love and redemption of Jesus Christ. We realize repentance is a gift that God gives us because He loves us. As we walk by the Spirit instead of our flesh, we walk in conscious repentance and unconscious holiness. When we obey Him, we sense God’s joy, peace, and love. As we walk in repentance, the Holy Spirit continuously conforms us to the likeness of the Son of God.

Acts 5:31-32 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

Acts 11:18 When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life."

God would be justified in destroying all of us, for that is what we deserve. However, God has given the gifts of faith, repentance, and forgiveness to all people through Jesus’ Atonement on the Cross. No one earns these gifts. They are God’s grace, given from His love and mercy, to those who have faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

God so radically, so gloriously, and so completely copes with sin in the Atonement of Christ’s blood on the cross that He can change the life of anyone who will believe in Jesus, confess their sin, and repent.

The test of repentance is not in theories and theologies that people like to argue, but in practical daily experience. The test of repentance is in how we live out what God has put in us.

Jesus Christ is our Saviour because He saves us from sin. The evidence of salvation is a radically altered life. We become a new creation in Christ. Anyone who has been in contact with the Lord and is born of His Spirit knows it, and so do others. He gives us a new disposition, His own character, the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 32:1-10 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.

Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.

Sin has separated us from God and we need to confess it and repent. God is waiting for our return to Him. When we experience the humiliating conviction that we have broken the law of God, that we have a backslidden heart, that we love ourselves more than God, the Holy Spirit lovingly calls us to repent.

Repentance is a gift of God, resulting in forgiveness and the power of God to walk by His Spirit and not by our flesh. Then as we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with God.

If you are feeling the conviction of sin and the desire for repentance, don’t ignore what the Holy Spirit is saying to you. This is God’s gift to you, His desire for you, and He gave His Life so that you can have it and receive His forgiveness and a new life of blessing. Receive it with thanksgiving, godly sorrow, humility, contrition, and obedience.

Maybe you have never had an intimate relationship with God because you have not believed in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, confessed your sin, repented, and been baptized. If that is you, you do not have the life of God, the Holy Spirit, in you. You are still dead in your sins, but you can change that today.

Acts 2:38"Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Holy Spirit will continue to convict you of sin, righteousness, and judgment. That is part of His job. However, He will also teach you to say “No” to sin and temptation. He will give you the power and grace to live a life of repentance by dying to self, picking up a cross daily, and following Jesus. That is the way to a life of blessing, peace, and joy.