A disciple sees their sin and shortcomings and puts their trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus to make them right with God. By the grace of Christ, we are loved, accepted, and can stand before the Father as holy and blameless. As you go deeper in your relationship with Jesus, repentance becomes a daily response to the grace Jesus extends to us. One example of how we can learn to repent daily is by looking at what we are trusting in for our identity. We can ask God to reveal when our identity is based on our successes or failures instead of who Jesus is. Repent of that and trust in the identity we have in Christ. Review the Circles diagram from the intro lesson on anchoring your identity in Jesus and remind yourself of places where you are focused on self. Repent from those things and begin believing in Jesus as your center.
Here are a few quotes to get you thinking about what it means to repent:
“In ‘religion’ the purpose of repentance is basically to keep God happy so he will continue to bless you and answer your prayers…But in the gospel, the purpose of repentance is to repeatedly tap into the joy of our union with Christ in order to weaken our need to do anything contrary to God’s heart.”—Tim Keller, All of Life is Repentance
“I often hear ‘true’ repentance described as ‘turning from sin.’ But, if this is the definition of repentance, then it is essentially a work of human effort and merit—we stop being bad and start being good to get God’s grace. The Reformers were more careful in their definition, indicating that repentance is ‘turning from sin unto God.’ This means that repentance is not dependence on our goodness, but a forsaking of all that is in us and a total reliance upon God’s grace. ”—Bryan Chapell
Foundational verses provide the biblical basis for each character trait. Read through these verses together as a group when you first begin exploring this trait. You might also consider memorizing one of the verses together.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”—2 Corinthians 7:10
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’”—Isaiah 30:15
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”—Acts 2:38
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”—Acts 3:19
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”—1 John 1:9
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”—2 Corinthians 5:18-20
On Your Own
- Consider practicing the “disciplines of gospel-repentance” that Tim Keller outlines in this article: All of Life is Repentance
- Watch this RightNow Media clip of someone’s personal story of repentance: Freedom in Repentance.
- Use the YouVersion Bible app to stay connected in a consistent way with the Bible. The app has many different reading plans and short devotionals designed to help you consistently read and engage with Scripture. We recommend this devotional which encourages us to remember the good news of the Gospel every day.
With Your Small Group
- Use one small group meeting to watch the video above (scroll up) and discuss this lesson as a starting point.
- James 5:16 encourages us to confess our sins to one another. A small group can be a safe place to confess and be reminded that Jesus took it all on the cross for us. Read this article for ideas on how to practice this in your group: Strengthening Your Small Group Through Confession
- We would encourage you to consider studying Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God. This book reveals in a fresh way the grace God extends to both brothers in Jesus’ familiar parable. There is also a companion six-session DVD series (available in our library) with a study guide.
- Read Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller and use this study guide to explore the teachings.
Use these questions before, during, and after working through the resources to help your group have conversations about how you’re growing together in this disciple character trait:
- How might your small group incorporate a regular practice of corporate confession?
- Have each group member respond to this question personally: In light of what you’ve been learning about this trait of a disciple of Jesus, what does repentance look like for you?