What is complete repentance?
A complete repentance includes:
Confession of sins
Confession of sin is not when you pray “Lord, forgive me if I have done anything wrong”.
Confession of sin is calling it exactly what God would call it (be it rage, malice, slander, murder, immorality…) and then admitting to have done it.
Sin isn’t weakness; it is not a tricky situation; it is not ‘if anything wrong’ stuff. Sin is sin.
Call ‘rage’, ‘malice’, ‘slander’, ‘envy’, ‘impurity’, ‘sexual immorality’, ‘murder’ exactly that. That is confessing.
2. Repentance of sins
This is the part of saying sorry and promising not to repeat it again. It is when your heart breaks with the guilt of what you have done and definitely not want to do again.
This is something that most of us miss out on. We assume that once we have confessed and repented, the process is done. We even promised not to repeat the same. But then, what else is missing?
Ezra 10: 10, 11
10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, “You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
Now, because they married gentiles, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t love their wives. These people were in love with their wives and had children with them. The command to correct themselves of their wrongdoing doesn’t seem so pleasant.
They were asked to forsake their love and separate themselves from it.
It must have been painful to them to do that, but by the end of the chapter we see every single man did it. They corrected and stood righteousness in the eyes of the Lord.
This is the last step of repentance. Correcting themselves and setting things right before God.
As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.
They let go of the reminders of their sin.
That is how the book of Ezra ends, with the complete return of the nation’s heart to their God.
-Dr. Ann Jacob