Many of us do not understand what repentance truly means.


For most, it means completely turning your life around. But when you contemplate what it looks like to entirely turn something around, you will find yourself with a 360° rotation. And where does that leave you? Right back where you started from.


If we want to deeply experience true repentance back to God, we must make a 180° turn, which leads us in the opposite direction we are heading – from one of destruction to the path of righteousness.


Two Elements of Repentance

The call of God for our lives is that we would live in repentance. There are two important elements of biblical repentance we should consider.

The first is spiritual remorse. Living a life of repentance is not merely being sorry that you were caught in an action; it is demonstrating godly sorry for what you have done. This sorrow actually leads you to the point of change.

The second element of repentance is how we implement it as a lifestyle. I have discovered that the closer I become to God, the more likely He is to point out the most detestable things in my life. He does this with love and righteousness because repentance is more than an action change; it is about the condition of our hearts.

We must remember that as long as we are breathing on this side of heaven, we will never arrive at a place where we are complete and not in need of change. Yes, we serve a miracle-working God, but He also calls us to meet Him halfway and put action to where our faith is.

7 Acts of Repentance

Making poor choices is more than just pursuing our sinful bents. It has lasting and far more complicated effects. Consider this:

If you sow a thought, you will reap an act. If you sow an act, you will reap a habit. If you sow a habit, you will reap a lifestyle. If you sow a lifestyle, you will reap a destiny.

So, how can we reap lives of repentance? I believe it comes down to sowing these seven biblical actions into the everyday fabric of our lives.

Submit to God (vs. 7)

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7, NKJV

To submit means to place oneself under or yield to someone or something. In fact, we are all motivated to submit to something; however, it is God we are called to ultimately submit to.

While God is the true authority believers submit to, He does His work through humans on earth. That said, there should be someone in your life who has the authority to guide and correct you when needed.

A friend of mine uses this illustration about submission:

You are driving a small Volkswagen down a two-lane highway, soon merging into one lane. An 18-wheeler truck is trying to change lanes beside you. Even though you have the right of way, the question at hand is, will you yield to this larger-than-life vehicle that has the more prominent presence?

Sure, you can stay at the speed you’re driving and declare you have the right of way, but ultimately, it is in your best interest to yield to the larger truck.

Now, as a word of caution, we must use our discernment in who we allow to be an authority figure in our lives. If we allow anyone and everyone to sway and guide us, we can very well end up on a path of destruction.

Do you have a pastor, mentor, or trusted friend you are allowing to sharpen your iron?

Who is God asking you to submit to?

Resist the Devil (vs. 7)

“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

James 4:7, NKJV

The word resist in this verse means to oppose or stand against.

The devil must be resisted, and you must stand firm against him. Some of you are constantly experiencing the enemy’s attacks because you are passively asking him to leave you alone or you are ignoring his attempts altogether.

In Luke 4, Jesus is tempted on three occasions. Each time, Jesus stands firm and quotes scripture to remind himself and the devil how sovereign and mighty God is. After Jesus resisted Satan, he left him alone for a season. (Our battle with the devil is ongoing until Jesus ultimately comes again to defeat Him permanently.)

Saints, some of you actively engage with the kingdom of sin by liking questionable social media posts, watching raunchy television shows, and listening to the music he is writing. In doing these harmless things, you are actually making room for him to rule in your lives.

If the things you are meshing with, watching, and listening to are promoting the opposite of God’s principles and character, you are not resisting the devil. What in your life do you need to release and repent from?

Draw Near to God (vs. 8)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

James 4:8, NKJV

Repentance is not only a decision to stop doing things that are harmful to our faith but also a choice to make room for God. If you take a step toward God, He will take one toward you. (In fact, I have learned that God is faithful to take ten steps toward us even if we only take one!)

If you aren’t as close to God as you used to be, God has not drifted away; rather, you have gone astray.

When you are in harmony with God, you will see His hand in every aspect of your life. He will work miracles, answer prayers before you even utter a need, and provide beyond your wildest dreams. When we lean into His presence and choose Him in everything, He will show up.

So, what choices, actions, and commitments are you making that prove you want to move closer to God?

Cleanse Your Hands (vs. 8)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

James 4:8, NKJV

My friend, Maurice, was hospitalized several years ago, and he almost lost his life. The doctors concluded he had contracted a virus, but they weren’t sure where it came from. Ultimately, months later, his medical team concluded there was a strong chance he got it because he shook the hand of an infected person.

Church, what are you touching?

We all must cling to the discernment and voice of God as we consider the things we are interacting with that may be hindering us from connecting with God. Even as we are all sinners, may we be mindful of cleansing our lives of the filth of this world.

Purify Your Heart (vs. 8)

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

James 4:8, NKJV

God has set every one of us apart for His purposes; however, our hearts are often the primary source of deceit as we navigate our lives.

Jeremiah 17:9 in the NKJV says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Our hearts, which encompass our thoughts and emotions, cannot be trusted.

This is why even King David proclaimed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God!” (Psalms 51:10)

When we invite God into our hearts and ask Him to purify us, we give Him the power to clean us up. Our emotions and thoughts are desperately wicked and cannot be trusted, but when we submit our hearts to the Lord, He will create hearts of flesh that can be aligned with Him.

Are you letting your emotions call the shots, or will you allow the Lord to create a clean heart within you?

Embrace Godly Sorrow (vs. 9)

“Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.”

James 4:9, NKJV

Godly sorrow is what truly leads to repentance. And while it produces holiness, the sorrow of this world leaves us to our own devices.

2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV, says, “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

Sadly, many Christians today like their sin so much that they have dedicated space in their homes for it. They have built bars to hold liquids that produce life addictions, and they subscribe to (and pay money for) cable channels that allow sin to enter their holy temples. They justify their actions, but all the while, God is watching their choices, and it is grieving His heart.

Where in your life do you need to embrace godly sorrow for your actions?

Humble Yourself (vs. 10)

“Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

James 4:10, NKJV

God loves humility. In fact, Jesus, God in the flesh, lived a life of ultimate humility as He came to do the will of the Father. If Jesus pursued humility, how much more should we, as sinners, pursue it as well?

Pursuing God in humility means acknowledging that we are nothing without God. In fact, without his help, we are wretched and undone. But, when you repent before God, He will lift you up. No man can destroy His covering over you, and He will go before and stand beside you all the days of your life.

Humility Leads to More Grace

In James 4:6, we read, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

God promises that those who pursue humility will be given more grace. He will provide grace in our choices, our time spent with Him, and even our relationships.

Living a life of repentance is just as essential as breathing air. For it is through repentance that our relationship with God is strengthened, purified, and restored.

Will you daily walk in the blessing that is the path of repentance?

For more on how to live a life of repentance, watch Pastor John’s sermon: Acts of Repentance, on YouTube.

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