We are beginning the portion of the church year called Lent. It is the 40 days leading up to Easter (not counting Sundays). Traditionally, Lent is a time when we think about the seriousness of our sin and about how much Christ suffered to save us. For this reason, Lenten services are often more solemn.
A word that comes up during Lent is “repentance.” It is one of those words we use in church but might not understand very well. Sometimes repentance is described as a turning around. You were living in your sin, but you turned around to follow Jesus. This is a helpful explanation but could give us some wrong ideas. We end up thinking of repentance as something that happens one time. When a person is first saved, they repent and believe. This is true, but it is missing something. If you turned away from your sin, why do you still sin? Did you truly repent? Did you repent well enough to be saved? Sometimes, these questions make people wonder if they are truly a Christian.
Repentance and faith are daily parts of the Christian life.
We need to understand that repentance (turning from sin) is not just a one-time decision. Repentance and faith are daily parts of the Christian life. If you don’t see sin in your life every day, it does not mean that you are a good person. It means that you are too prideful to admit your sin. That is a dangerous place to be. You sin every day and God will daily show you sin in your life. He shows you your sin for two reasons.
To remind you that you desperately need Jesus: You will never be good enough to please God. Based on your behavior, you will always deserve God’s punishment. Only Jesus can make you right with God. God shows you your sin and then invites you to leave it at the foot of the cross, knowing you are forgiven through Christ. God daily reminds us that “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:23, ESV).
So that you can turn from sin: God shows you your sin so you can change your behavior, but we get confused about how this happens. We think if we just try harder and do better, we will improve, but then we fail over and over again. We forget that we need God to change us from the inside out. We need God to change our hearts. How does He do that? He daily uses His Word to show us our sin, and He daily uses His Word to assure us of forgiveness through Christ. God changes our hearts through daily repentance and faith.
It is wonderful to have a part of the year where we take extra time to think about the seriousness of our sin and about how Christ suffered to save us, but we need to remember that repentance and faith is important all year long. Every day, God gives us the opportunity to confess sin in our life. Every day, He invites us to trust in Christ, who saved us through His death and resurrection. That is what Lent and Easter are all about. That is what the Christian life is all about.