Bill was a friend of mine in seminary who had come to Christ out of a blatantly sinful lifestyle. He described it this way: “I was driving down the street drinking a bottle of brandy with another man’s wife at my side. When I saw some Christians on the sidewalk witnessing to passersby about Christ, I drove by and shouted, ‘Fools!’ But only a few weeks later I found myself kneeling in a church and asking Christ to become my Savior and Lord.” Bill’s conversion resulted in his giving up his old ways and experiencing a new life in Christ. It was a life-changing turnaround.
True repentance, which is initiated by the Holy Spirit, includes a real turnaround. Often we see that the greater the opposition to the gospel prior to conversion, the more stunning the change of direction afterward. When Saul of Tarsus encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, he was changed from a persecutor to a preacher of the gospel. Of this many observed: “He who formerly persecuted us now preaches the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal. 1:23).
Authentic conversion includes repentance, which is a change of mind and direction. For the follower of Christ, repentance means to keep turning away from sin and turning toward Christ in obedience.
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee. —Sleeper