When Jesus began His public ministry, the first word that came out of His mouth was repent. The Bible tells us to repent and be converted (see Acts 3:19) and that God has commanded people everywhere to repent (see Acts 17:30).
However, this is something that I think is missing in the lives of a lot of people. They have never repented of their sin. There may be thousands and thousands of people with a false sense of assurance sitting in the pews of our churches today. They think they will go to Heaven because they walked down an aisle or prayed a simple prayer.
Yet they have never fulfilled one of the primary conditions of being forgiven of their sins, which is repenting. It’s great to realize that God loves you. It’s wonderful to recognize that He is ready to forgive you. And yes, you must ask Jesus to come into your heart. But the Bible says that part of that process is repenting of your sin.
There are people who have never taken this step. They say, “I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died on the cross for me. I believe that He is able to change me. And Lord, I ask You to come in my life and be my best buddy.” Meanwhile, they have never repented. They have never turned from known sin.
There are a lot of people today who have come close, but they haven’t come close enough. The recognition of personal sin is always at the base of repentance. But to only do that can be useless at best and dangerous at worst. Recognizing personal sin without taking action can be self deceiving, because it makes us think that mere acknowledgment of sin is all that is necessary.