For our journeys of repentance to be transformative, we must be truly cognizant of our sin, realize that our sin separates us from God and hurts other people, feel the heavy burden that sin places on our spirits, and believe that it is through Christ we receive forgiveness. To be effective, repentance can’t be viewed as a casual sort of thing. It must occur deep within.
In Romans 7, Paul expresses his quest for repentance in a way that gives us a glimpse of the humble spirit that is required to seek repentance and receive forgiveness. “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25, NIV)
Paul’s language is gripping and surely expresses our feelings when we have sinned and desire to repent. Paul also speaks to the difficulty of seeking repentance. Wanting to do good, yet evil is right there, blocking our intentions.
Delighting in God’s law but confronted with the law of sin. Both laws are within us, waging war and holding us captive. Do you ever feel that way? I don’t think I’m the only one.
Finally, we exclaim: “Dear God, I am a wretched person!” It is with that burst of honesty that we are freed from sin and forgiven through Jesus Christ our Lord. We have repented at the deepest levels of our being.