Repentance or Forgiveness: Which Comes First?
There is always this question of what to do when we sin. Repentance normally tops the list of actions we need to take. This act, in our minds, has a number of possible outcomes. The first is forgiveness for the sin that was committed. In this scenario, repentance is first, then forgiveness. We repent, then God forgives.
The second outcome is the restoration of fellowship that was broken because of sin. Again, repentance is the catalyst, the lead act that restores the fellowship.
This is not biblical thinking. God’s plan is “by grace through faith.” Grace initiates, faith follows. An aspect of this faith is repentance. It is the changing of the mind in response to the truth of God’s grace and the forgiveness in Jesus Christ. It is the stepping right into the middle of God’s plan.
When Peter stood before the people at Pentecost, he told them about Jesus – his death, burial and resurrection. This is the story of God’s grace in action. Then he summoned the people to repentance. Three thousand were added to the church that day. The reason is that God’s grace led to repentance in the heart toward Jesus.
Here is the point. When you sin, let God’s grace take the lead. The shed blood of Christ will change your heart and mind and will deepen your spiritual instinct to trust, rely and abide in the indwelling and resurrected Christ.
Which comes first? If you are in Christ, you already have forgiveness of sins. Let this truth rest your mind solidly in His love and grace.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)