The Bible talks of repentance. What exactly does it mean to repent, and why do I need to do it?  What’s so important about repentance?  Can’t I just ask Jesus to forgive me, and go on?  After all, God gives us grace, so what’s to repent of?  Let’s explore these things today.
First off, what does “repent” mean?    to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): – repent.

Mat 3:1  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
Mat 3:2  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mat 3:3  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

    John was warning the people to reconsider their actions and to think differently, to get their thoughts into line with the Kingdom of God, and to turn away from their sins.  The Jews thought that because they were of the lineage of Abraham, salvation was automatically theirs.  What could they possibly have to repent of? after all, they kept the laws of Moses zealously.  Yet God wanted more, He wanted their heart.  You see, even though they obeyed the law, their heart was not in it, making their path crooked.  John’s job was to straighten their crooked thinking.
   Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized of him in the Jordan River.  After Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and led Him into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted of the devil.  Not yielding to sin, Jesus came forth from the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Mat 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Seems to me that was the same message John the Baptist was preaching, and now Jesus had taken it up.  But Jesus didn’t plan to preach repentance all by himself, so He enlisted help.
Mat 4:18  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Mat 4:19  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
Mat 4:20  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
Mat 4:21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.
Mat 4:22  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.

   Here’s a prime example of “repent”.  These two men were fishermen.  They changed their mind and changed their ways.  Many people change their minds, but not their ways.  James and John left their old lifestyle and started a new life as disciples of Jesus.  Were they sinners?   Sure!  We’re all sinners, each and every one of us.  Under the Old Testament, their sins were covered by animal sacrifices performed on a regular basis.  Today, it’s different, we’re under another covenant, one in which we can have remission of our sins through the blood of Jesus.  And the covenant has another condition as well, we must turn from and FORSAKE our sins.
    There are many who have heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and agree that things in their lives should change to line up with the Gospel.  And that’s about as far as it went.  There was no true repentance.  Many think they can “accept Jesus” and go on with their lives just as they like, and then when their life is over, be saved.  Is that what the Bible teaches?  There were folks questioning Jesus about repentance.  What about me?  I’m just everyday Joe, I go to work, support my family, give to the church, I believe in God.  I’m not a thief or murderer or one of those “sinners”.  I do my share of good deeds, why do I need to repent?
Luk 13:1  There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Luk 13:2  And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
Luk 13:3  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luk 13:4  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
Luk 13:5  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luk 13:6  He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
Luk 13:7  Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
Luk 13:8  And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
Luk 13:9  And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

   We’re seeing here a real strong indicator that God does indeed require not only a change of mind, but a change in our way of living, as well.  By grace, God gives us all space to repent, to clean up our lives from our old unholy ways.  Jesus told the thief to stop stealing, and restore that which he had stolen.  He gives us the power to change by virtue of the Holy Spirit, but He doesn’t grab us by the neck and change us.  Changing our lives is OUR responsibility.  God saves our spirit, but He doesn’t save our will.  We have to lay down OUR will in submission to His Word and live according to His will.  And those who do so unto the end will be saved.  Can you decide you’ve had enough and go back to your old ways?  Sure, God won’t stop you.  But why would you want to?  Is not the love of God and the promise of eternal life enough to keep you motivated to stay submitted to Him?
    What about the grace of God?  Can’t I just receive Jesus as my Savior and go on with my life? 
Mat 7:13  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Mat 7:14  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
Mat 7:15  Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

   I believe Jesus is referring to those who say you can be saved, and because of grace, continue living in sin, because God will forgive you.  Notice Jesus said “false prophets coming in sheep’s clothing”.  Not “SHEPHERD’S”  clothing.  Your fellow sheep, your friends will tell you that you can live as you like, because God knows you’re weak, so He will forgive you, He doesn’t REALLY expect you to be Holy like Him.  STOP LISTENING TO THEIR LIES!!  Jesus said you must repent, and so will any true messenger of God.
Mat 7:16  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Mat 7:17  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
Mat 7:18  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Mat 7:19  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 7:20  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Mat 7:21  Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

   Many will stand before the Lord in that day, having been deceived by those saying “GRACE, GRACE”.  And they will be honestly surprised to hear that God is rejecting them.  After all, they called Him LORD, they went to church, prayed the sinner’s prayer, did good works and so forth.  But Jesus didn’t know them because they didn’t REPENT!!
    Won’t God forgive me when I sin?  Why should I have to change, when there are so many people much worse than me out there?  Shouldn’t they be the ones who change?  I’d like you to stop focusing on the sins of others.  Let’s see to it that YOU hear, Well done, good and faithful servant, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.  Jesus said unless you repent, you will likewise perish
Never mind my opinion, what does the Bible say?
1Jn 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
1Jn 2:3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
1Jn 2:4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1Jn 2:5  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.
1Jn 2:6  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    That shoots the thought that we can use the grace of God as a trampoline and one day be saved.  Can we be saved by works alone?  How about faith alone?  Absolutely not.  But if you realize the value of the horribly high price the Lord Jesus paid for your salvation, you will make every effort not to trample on that grace, and do everything you possibly can to be pleasing to Him.  When that occasional slip-up happens, we can ask Him to forgive us and He will.  How many times can we willfully sin and He will keep on forgiving us?  True repentance means let’s don’t try to find out, OK? 
Let’s love God like He deserves to be loved, and we will experience the same from Him!