“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 will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

We have already seen that revival is for Christians and that we must humble ourselves and seek God’s face to experience revival. But there is one more step- God says, “Turn from your wicked ways.”

What does that mean? Well, there is another word that is used in the Bible that means the same thing. That word is repentance.

Let me tell you what repentance does not mean- repentance is not just being sorry for our sin. Rather true sorrow LEADS to repentance- “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

‘Worldly sorrow’ is “I am sorry because I got caught” sorry. That is ‘jailhouse conversion’ sorrow. It does not produce a changed life!

Genuine repentance is what David expressed in Psalm 51 after his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband-

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.”(v. 1-4)

1. First, there is personal responsibility for sin. David did not blame Bathsheba for his sin, he blamed HIMSELF. There cannot be real repentance until we take a good, hard look in the mirror and say, “That is the person that is responsible for my sin!”

2. There is a recognition that all sin is an offense against God. We take sin too easily- “Oops, I did it again, Lord- sorry!” Your ( and my) sin is a HORRIBLE thing. God HATES sin. It is so horrible that Jesus died for it!

“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place” (v. 6)

3. A third part of genuine repentance is honesty with God and ourselves. When we truly repent, we “lay it all out”. That means that there is nothing held back, no hidden plans- we just come to God as we are and confess what we are.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.(v. 13-15)

4. The final evidence of genuine repentance is a changed life. When we repent in truth, we will show it by our new actions. Look at Luke 19:1-9, the story of a man named Zacchaeus-

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’ ”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.””

A changed life involves restitution. ‘Restitution’ means ‘to pay back’. When we have truly repented, we will want to go to people that we have done wrong to and make things right. It is NOT enough to just go and say “I am sorry” to God. He demands that we go and make it right with those people that we have done wrong to. Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23,24

I pray that each of us will spend some time with God today, asking Him to search our hearts and show us any sin that is in our lives. And that when He does show us the sin, that we will genuinely repent.