I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed and said, “Alas, O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments and ordinances” (Daniel 5:4-5).
When you read Daniel’s prayer; you will notice that he offers no excuses for his sins or the sins of his people. One of the hardest things for a person to do is to squarely face self through the holiness of God – to face self in the pure, unsullied light of God. We need to let God’s Spirit search into the recesses of our mind and the imaginations of our heart, into the motives of our life; letting God see all the wrong, the evil, and the self-seeking that’s there.
That is what God’s Word means when it challenges me to repent. Other religions ignore the fact of sin and try to deal with guilt by diverting one’s focus to other matters. Following Jesus requires the exact opposite. God through Christ brings us face to face with self so we can face the sin in our lives and turn from our way to the eternal way—God’s way.
When Peter confronted those who had a part in the crucifixion of Jesus he said, “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away” (Acts 3:17-19). Peter is urging them to examine their motives and recognize that the righteousness they have been trying to accomplish on their own is weak and meaningless. Only the righteousness of God through the forgiveness offered through Christ can cleanse one of his sins.
Paul urges us to understand where true righteousness is found. “…be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21). Outside of the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ, there is no righteousness.
But to know that righteousness requires turning away from our own notions about right and wrong. Such repentance requires being totally honest with self about self. It requires turning from our own self-made motives and seeking the unvarnished truth revealed in God’s holy Word.
God, being our Creator, knows what is best for us. He knows best how to reach our hearts regenerating them so that our life will actually be a life that our Holy God can receive to Himself in heaven. God longs to bless us with the best possible life we can have here on earth as well as a life that brings glory to Him now and eternally.