13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
“Ezekiel 18:21 (NLT2)21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die.
Confession is necessary, but it is not sufficient. Sufficiency is achieved only when confession relates to repentance. You see, confession is making our sins known—to God, friends, to trusted Christian brothers and sisters.
James 5:16 (NLT2)16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Steps to repentance.
Recognize - First, we should recognize sin as sin.
Confess - Second, we should confess our sin.
Stop doing it (repent) - Third, we must quit doing it. It is not enough to own up to the sin and ask God to forgive us. We must also claim the grace of God that will enable us to stop. Repentance involves a turning: turning away from those sins; turning our backs on our old selves. Repentance is saying, we don’t want to be those people anymore. Repentance is turning toward God. It’s a willingness to become new people, loyal followers.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 (NLT2)16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
Confession is critical, but it’s only the first step. Repentance is the ultimate step.” Ironically, confession requires great courage, but repentance just requires a soft, willing heart.
Without repentance, we continue in our sin. Without repentance, we continue our own path . . . toward death.
Luke 13:1-5 (NLT2)1 About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple.2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered?3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God.4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem?5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” (emphasis mine).
Okay, so what do we do?
Dr. Charles Stanley gives us three steps to true repentance in his devotion Genuine Repentance.
Dr. Charles Stanley
2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NLT2) 8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (emphasis mine).
Because we desire to be more like Jesus, we make resolutions, ask Him to help us, and try to behave differently. Yet despite our best efforts to do things God's way, we slide back into old habits. Frustrated, we may ask Him, "Why can't I change?" The reason is, overcoming sinful attitudes and behaviors starts with genuine repentance, which has three aspects.
The Holy Spirit will reveal the areas in which we've sinned and convict us of wrongdoing. Through Scripture, the Spirit shows us God's standard and what needs to change. Repentance begins with understanding where we have gone astray.
The next step--grieving over our iniquity--is followed by confession to the Lord. Genuine sorrow arises from the knowledge that we've sinned against Him. In contrast, human unhappiness often comes from being caught misbehaving. Other times we are miserable because of where our choices led us, or feel shame that people know about our sin. True contrition is followed by humble confession.
Commitment to act.
Real repentance is complete when we wholeheartedly pledge to turn from our old behavior and move toward righteous ways. God knows we won't live perfectly, but He looks for a surrendered heart that diligently seeks to obey Him.
Paul used strong language when telling us to turn from iniquity: "Put to death... whatever belongs to your earthly nature" (Col. 3:5 niv). What sin are you struggling to overcome? Have you genuinely repented, committing to turn from it permanently? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to change.