Across the church’s year there are various liturgical seasons. At the start of March is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. This solemn period of 40 days (6 weeks other than Sundays) leading up to Easter recalls the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness. During this time Satan came to test him severely with the temptation to doubt his unique identity and status as the Son of God, but also to misuses his power for his own advantage. Jesus did not succumb to the temptations; he proved his sinlessness by these tests which was essential in his obedience to the Father’s perfect will.
By contrast, Jesus’ followers fall to the temptation to sin but from which we are to repent. To repent is to be sorry for what we’ve done wrong and be committed to doing what is right. This involves a change of mind.
Let me illustrate. If you go to the beach and enjoy laying in the sun, then someone urges you to join them in the sea. After walking across the sand, you arrive at the water’s edge and dip a toe in the water. The icy cold water makes you retract your foot swiftly as you say, “Oh, no I really don’t want to go in!” Others may at first encourage you and then tease you for not entering the water. If you turn around and walk back up the beach, retreating to your towel, then you have repented of your decision to go for a swim. You’ve been thinking one way, but now you think the opposite way. That’s repentance — the changing of the mind.
To help us in this we are given both searching truths and wonderful promises:
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” [1 John 1v8-2v2].
Those who have come to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour are to embark on a lifelong pattern of turning away from our sins and turning to follow him.
May we know his grace as we do this in our daily walk with Jesus.