The Lord is not slow . . . . He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish. 2 Peter 3:9
As he neared the end of his life, John M. Perkins had a message for the people he would leave behind. Perkins, known for advocating racial reconciliation, said, “Repentance is the only way back to God. Unless you repent, you will all perish.”
These words mirror the language of Jesus and many other people in the Bible. Christ said, “Unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). The apostle Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out” (Acts 3:19).
Much earlier in Scripture, we read the words of yet another person who desired that his people would turn to God. In his farewell address “to all Israel” (1 Samuel 12:1), the prophet, priest, and judge Samuel said, “Do not be afraid. You have done . . . evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (v. 20). This was his message of repentance—to turn from evil and follow God wholeheartedly.
We all sin and miss the mark of His standard. So we need to repent, which means to turn away from sin and turn to Jesus, who forgives us and empowers us to follow Him. Let’s heed the words of two men, John Perkins and Samuel, who recognized how God can use the power of repentance to change us into people He can use for His honor.
Why is it vital to turn from sin and ask Christ for forgiveness? What does it mean for you to follow God with all your heart?
Dear God, guide me to true repentance. Please help me to recognize my sin and put my total trust in the saving power of Jesus.
For further study, read Taking Sin Seriously.
When God freed the Israelites from Egyptian bondage to make them into “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), He specifically commanded them not the follow the ways of her pagan neighbors or worship their gods (23:32; Deuteronomy 7:1–6). Israel was a theocratic monarchy—God was their Lawgiver and King (Isaiah 33:22; 43:15), and they were to live according to His law (Deuteronomy 26:16–19). God anticipated the day that Israel would ask for a king (17:14–19) so they’d be “like all the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:5, 20). Refusing to be God’s “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6), the Israelites rejected God’s ways and His rule over them to follow the ways of pagan nations and other gods (1 Samuel 8:7–8). God warned the Israelites of the consequences of asking for such a king (vv. 10–21).