Cleansed and Refreshed: The Power of Repentance and Turning to God

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. – Acts 3:19 

Are you seeking the cleansing and blotting out of your sins, similar to the effectiveness of OxiClean and potent bleach lifting the toughest stains from your laundry? If so, then repent and turn to God. There is nothing in this world that can wash you clean of the stains of your sin except faith in the sanctifying blood of Jesus alone, which was shed on the Cross (1 John 1:7). In Isaiah 43:25 God declares, “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” This God accomplished for all who would repent and believe in His Son as the Lamb of God slain for the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Are you feeling weary and burdened, yearning for a time of refreshing? There is not enough vacation time or amount of sleep that will bring you the type of rest and refreshing that Christ can provide. Once again, repent and turn to God, for the Lord is our Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep; we lack nothing. He makes us lie down in green pastures, leads us beside quiet waters, and refreshes our souls (Psalms 23). Do you hear the voice of the Shepherd calling you to Himself? Do not hesitate in following Him. You can trust Him, and He will give you rest. Take His yoke upon you and learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For His yoke is easy, and His burden is light ( Matthew 11:28-30).

Change Your Mind

In the New Testament of the Bible, the term “repentance” originates from the Greek word metanoia. This word indicates a change in mindset and heart, involving a departure from sin and a redirection towards God and His righteousness. It encompasses a radical, heartfelt, and divinely empowered transformation of one’s thoughts, attitudes, words, and behaviors. Repentance and faith in the Good News were at the heart of the Apostles’ preaching and teaching because they were first at the core of Jesus’ focus and proclamation:

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)

“He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)

The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit rejoice and love to see people repent and receive forgiveness. Because of God’s unfathomable love, grace, and mercy, we can repent and turn to Him for forgiveness. It is He who grants us repentance and eternal life, a gift that we cannot earn with our good deeds, as seen in the following scriptures:

“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25)

“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:18)

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

When I first heard the Good News, I did not come to believe and repent right away. It took me about two years before I came to accept and change my mind about who Jesus is. And when I did, it truly was a miracle of rebirth. My heart of stone was replaced with a heart of flesh that now housed the Spirit of the living God as my source of power to live according to His good, pleasing, and perfect will. My way of thinking started to transform and be shaped according to God’s Word. The process of progressive sanctification had begun in my life. Using foul language no longer felt right. My old sinful, idolatrous, hateful, selfish, and lustful thoughts were now exposed for what they are: old and belonging to my dead sinful nature. I now had a conviction of my sin and the power to do something about it. The Spirit of the living God began to show me and guide me through the process of discipleship and continual repentance, shaping my mind and perspective regarding the One true God, people, myself, and the spiritual forces of evil.

By the grace of God, I was saved through the gift of repentance and faith that led me to the saving knowledge of the truth, which brought me to my senses and gave me the ability to escape the Accuser’s snares (2 Timothy 2:24-26). The devil or Satan, meaning the “accuser,” “slanderer,” or “adversary,” is the father of lies and the disarmed prince of darkness (Revelation 12:10; John 8:44; Colossians 2:15). Even as a defeated foe, he is still tempting, blinding, and trapping people, while simultaneously accusing them before God for their sins and rebellion. The devil’s desire is also to keep people from seeing the light of the Gospel that brings them to repentance and faith, freeing sinners from his kingdom and slavery to sin (2 Corinthians 4:4).

It’s important to note that once your eyes have been opened to the truth and the light of the Gospel, you must continue to endure in walking in the light and truth of God. The devil’s job is not done with you, and he is a patient master trapper. He will try to trap you again and again, but know that if you submit yourself to God and resist the devil, he will flee from you (James 4:7). And if you do fall for his trap and sin, remember that “if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Hatred for Sin

Repentance is a genuine sorrow for our sins and a turning away from evil, accompanied by a wholehearted commitment to forsake our old sinful ways and turn to God by following Christ. Faith in Christ is not blind trust; it involves engaging our minds with truth and historical evidence. Similarly, with true repentance, there must be an intellectual recognition that sin is wrong according to the Word of God, found in the Holy Bible. It involves changing our minds about what is good and evil, just and unjust, righteous and unrighteous, according to God’s standards. It is discovering a newfound hatred and sorrow for sin and lawlessness and making a personal decision to turn from it and turn to God. It is walking away from what pleases our flesh (inward evil desires) and instead embracing the will of God that brings pleasure to Him. The Father God enables and draws us to Jesus. It is His pleasure to call sinners to repentance. It is His initiative and enablement.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I [Jesus] will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

When we put our faith in Christ, we are also simultaneously turning away from the sin that we are asking Jesus to save us from. Repentance and faith are two different aspects of conversion and one cannot take place without the other. There is no saving faith without repentance. Repentance is beautiful, life-changing, and life-saving. It becomes a way of life for a believer, marking a new heart condition and disposition. Christians don’t repent once and then never again. A person who repents and believes for the first time, experiencing wonderful forgiveness and salvation, will maintain that stance and attitude of repentance, faith, and dependence on God to overcome sin and the devil until the end (Revelation 3:21).

Worldly Sorrow and Godly Sorrow

Repentance is not merely about feeling remorse for mistakes and wrongdoings. Human sorrow, which leads to confession and seeking forgiveness, typically arises when we’re caught and must face consequences. It is characterized by selfishness and self-preservation. In contrast, true repentance, as described by Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:8-12, stems from godly sorrow. This godly sorrow, recognizing that we’ve sinned against an infinitely holy God and His image-bearers, leads to life-transforming repentance and the cleansing of our sins. The result of godly sorrow and repentance is a changed life for God’s glory and our good.

In 1 Corinthians 7:10, Paul explains that, “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” This highlights the importance of discerning between worldly and godly sorrow. While worldly sorrow may masquerade as change and humility, only godly sorrow leads to authentic repentance and deliverance from sin. In verse 11, Paul elaborates on the outcomes of godly sorrow: “See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” Repentance demands rejecting and denouncing all sins we’re guilty of, seeking justice at any cost, and actively taking practical steps to avoid dishonoring God and repeating those same sins. In contrast, worldly sorrow fundamentally manifests as self-pity arising from exposure and the loss of favor or respect in the eyes of others.

The Refreshing Power of Repentance

Repentance relieves the burden of our sin, guilt, and shame. When we repent and believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we receive peace with God and the peace of God. Our relationship with God is reconciled. We have been justified by faith in the person and saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection.

Repentance and faith bring the believer supernatural cleansing and times of refreshing, as mentioned in Acts 3:19: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” The phrases “times of refreshing” in verse 19 and two verses later “to restore everything” in verse 21 could refer to the time of Christ’s second coming, but more likely the “refreshing” is alluding to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit prophesied by Isaiah (32:15; 44:3; 59:21), which had already occurred in Acts 2. We could say that God has already begun the work of refreshing and restoration, and one day it will be made complete at Jesus’ glorious return.

The word translated as “refreshing” in English is Anapsuxis in Greek. It is not just any ordinary refreshment; you cannot find this type of rejuvenation from a sip of ice-cold Coca-Cola on a hot day or a pampering spa retreat. The Greek word Anapsuxis in Acts 3:19 can be broken down as follows: ana, which generally means “again” or “re” in Greek, often indicating repetition, and psuxis, which means “breath”, “soul”, or “life” in Greek, referring to the innermost being, the seat of our mind, will, and emotions. When combined, anapsuxis conveys the meaning of recovery of breath, a refreshing or revival of the soul.

The Lord brings spiritual renewal or revival to those who turn from their wicked ways and embrace Jesus Christ, the Messiah, for salvation. God, by His Spirit (or by His “pneuma,” which also means wind or breath in Greek), brings a fresh breath of life, reviving the human soul. Thus, biblical repentance and faith in God will bring cleansing from sin and a supernatural refreshing for the inner self, affecting thoughts, words, actions, and ultimately the eternal trajectory of our lives.

Truly, all praise and honor belong to the Godhead who has granted undeserved sinners repentance, cleansing, and His refreshing.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below,
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.           – The Doxology By Thomas Ken