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Christ will forgive us when we truly turn from our sinfulness

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Dear Rev. Graham: Many people say that finding salvation in Christ means to simply say they are sorry for their sins. There are many people who are convicted of crime but saying they are sorry doesn’t change their conviction. Is this really what the Bible teaches? — S.P.
Dear S.P.: Jesus told the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15) to dramatize what He meant by the word “repent.” When the prodigal son realized that he had wronged his father by demanding his inheritance and then squandering it, he didn’t only repent, he didn’t just sit still and feel sorry for his sins. He wasn’t passive. He didn’t stay where he was, surrounded by the swine. He got up and left! He turned his feet in the other direction. He sought out his father and humbled himself before his father — and his father forgave him and received him back as his son.
Too many people today think that repentance is little more than shaking their heads over their sins and saying, “My, I’m sorry for what I’ve done,” and then continuing to live just as they have lived before.
To be sorry is not enough when it comes to repentance. Even reformation is not enough. There is no torture that we can give the body, no trials that we can set for our mind that will be pleasing to Almighty God. Our sins were atoned for by Christ on the cross. There He suffered sin’s penalty. No suffering that we can undergo will lead us to repentance; but Christ will forgive us when we truly turn from our sinfulness and follow Him in obedience.
Repentance is mentioned over 70 times in the New Testament. God demands repentance and Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Our part is repenting, God will do the converting, the transforming, and the forgiving.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)