After “letting ourselves go” during the holiday season, it seems only right, as we enter a new year, to resolve to buckle down and start over at “being good.” We want to “repent” of “bad” behavior and start doing what we know is “right.”
The problem with most people’s resolutions and repentance is that they’re self-centered and based on one’s own willpower. So, especially for Christians, such resolutions and repentance are doomed to failure.
Does this mean we can never change our ways? Can’t we choose to no longer sin? (But, beware, you may be labeling something “sin” that is not sin to God—such as the 10 or 20 pounds you want to lose.)
You’ve heard of the three R’s of education, but let me remind you of three R’s for true repentance: recognize, rely, and renew.
Recognize you have a problem you have so far failed to solve.
Rely on Christ—His love, power, and wisdom—to guide you to the root issues of the problem. After all, he already told you, “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Renew your mind in light of God’s truth and looking to God’s Spirit to guide you to the truth that’s pertinent to your problem. (See Rom. 12:2 and John 16:13.)
True repentance is not gritting your teeth and making yourself do the right thing. Instead, to truly repent, you need to acknowledge how badly you need a Savior who is the only one capable of empowering godly living. (See Gal. 2:20, Tit. 2:11-12, and Phil. 2:13.)