Steps to Christ
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 3: Repentance
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How shall a man be just with God? How shall
the sinner be made righteous? It is only
through Christ that we can be brought into
harmony with God, with holiness; but how are we to
come to Christ? Many are asking the same question
as did the multitude on the Day of Pentecost, when,
convicted of sin, they cried out, "What shall we do?"
The first word of Peter's answer was, "Repent." Acts
2:37, 38. At another time, shortly after, he said,
"Repent, . . . and be converted, that your sins may
be blotted out." Acts 3:19.
Repentance includes sorrow for sin and a turning
away from it. We shall not renounce sin unless we
see its sinfulness; until we turn away from it in heart,
there will be no real change in the life.
There are many who fail to understand the true
nature of repentance. Multitudes sorrow that they
have sinned and even make an outward reformation
because they fear that their wrongdoing will bring
suffering upon themselves. But this is not repentance
in the Bible sense. They lament the suffering rather
than the sin. Such was the grief of Esau when
he saw that the birthright was lost to him forever.
Balaam, terrified by the angel standing in his pathway
with drawn sword, acknowledged his guilt lest
he should lose his life; but there was no genuine
repentance for sin, no conversion of purpose, no
abhorrence of evil. Judas Iscariot, after betraying his [p. 24] Lord, exclaimed, "I have sinned in that I have
betrayed the innocent blood." Matthew 27:4.
The confession was forced from his guilty soul by
an awful sense of condemnation and a fearful looking
for of judgment. The consequences that were to
result to him filled him with terror, but there was
no deep, heartbreaking grief in his soul, that he had
betrayed the spotless Son of God and denied the
Holy One of Israel. Pharaoh, when suffering under
the judgments of God, acknowledged his sin in order
to escape further punishment, but returned to his
defiance of Heaven as soon as the plagues were stayed.
These all lamented the results of sin, but did not
sorrow for the sin itself.
But when the heart yields to the influence of the
Spirit of God, the conscience will be quickened, and
the sinner will discern something of the depth and
sacredness of God's holy law, the foundation of His
government in heaven and on earth. The "Light,
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,"
illumines the secret chambers of the soul, and the
hidden things of darkness are made manifest. John
1:9. Conviction takes hold upon the mind and heart.
The sinner has a sense of the righteousness of Jehovah
and feels the terror of appearing, in his own guilt and
uncleanness, before the Searcher of hearts. He sees
the love of God, the beauty of holiness, the joy of
purity; he longs to be cleansed and to be restored to
communion with Heaven.
The prayer of David after his fall, illustrates the
nature of true sorrow for sin. His repentance was
sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate [p. 25] his guilt; no desire to escape the judgment threatened,
inspired his prayer. David saw the enormity of his
transgression; he saw the defilement of his soul; he
loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he
prayed, but for purity of heart. He longed for the
joy of holiness—to be restored to harmony and
communion with God. This was the language of his soul:
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,|
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord
imputeth not iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no guile."
Psalm 32:1, 2.
"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to
According unto the multitude of Thy tender
mercies blot out my transgressions. . . .
For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my
sin is ever before me. . . .
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean:
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. . . .
Create in me a clean heart, O God;
And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from Thy presence;
And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation;
And uphold me with Thy free spirit. . . .
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, Thou
God of my salvation:
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Thy
A repentance such as this, is beyond the reach of
our own power to accomplish; it is obtained only from
Christ, who ascended up on high and has given gifts
unto men. [p. 26]
Just here is a point on which many may err, and
hence they fail of receiving the help that Christ desires
to give them. They think that they cannot come to
Christ unless they first repent, and that repentance
prepares for the forgiveness of their sins. It is true
that repentance does precede the forgiveness of sins;
for it is only the broken and contrite heart that will
feel the need of a Saviour. But must the sinner wait
till he has repented before he can come to Jesus? Is
repentance to be made an obstacle between the sinner
and the Saviour?
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