For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:2)
The beauty of gospel-based repentance is that as we forsake a life of sin, we are given a life of obedience, fellowship, and joy in the Holy Spirit. We live no longer for ourselves but for the living God, before whom we bow in submission as we recognize Christ simultaneously as our Savior and King.
Yet, the human soul never exists in a vacuum. If we put off our former conduct and life of sin, we must replace it with a Christ-glorifying and Christ-centered life.
Thanks be to God, new life in Christ dispels shame and produces faithfulness and fruitfulness to God’s glory.
The Holy Spirit—who works repentance in His people—also works obedience and love in the children of God, allowing us to seek after new obedience. Living in accord with God’s will as it is revealed to us in Scripture is part of our liberty in Christ. Paul reminds the saints of their deliverance whereby they are set at liberty by Christ:
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:18–21)
Repentance is not something we do only at conversion; it is the ongoing process of recognizing, confessing, and forsaking our sin (1 John 1:8–9). What is more, ongoing repentance produces ongoing obedience. As we repent, we forsake a life of sin. In Christ we have true liberty from sin and true liberty to live for God, by virtue of the Holy Spirit’s regenerating work, whereby we are given a new nature to seek after Him, to please Him, and to abide in Christ. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:22–24).
The world thinks of repentance as merely stopping those things we do that are bad. But that is merely inactivity of a particular sin pattern. A Christian, however, lives a positive life, full of gracious works, works that bless our fellow man and glorify God, works that are accompanied by God-centered worship. In other words, in repentance we don’t just stop doing certain things; we also do certain things. Nevertheless, repentance does involve turning from our sinful ways. Sin defiles us, for the Lord made His image bearers to live in holiness and righteousness. Bearing fruit is an eternal activity for God’s redeemed people and a great joy to them as well. “
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life” (Rom. 6:22).
Although repentance is ongoing on this side of heaven, there will come a time when repentance is no longer necessary. This speaks of glory. When the saints die, their souls immediately are brought to God in heaven. There is no possibility for sin any longer. In heaven, we will await the resurrection of our bodies at the last day and the coming of the new creation. In the new heavens and new earth, body and soul will be reunited in perfection, the old things will pass away, and we will obey God perfectly, serve Him fully, and rejoice with complete holiness.
Yet, even now Christians live in liberty, delighting in Christ as we discover in Scripture what He teaches us about the Godhead, ourselves, and the perfect privilege of laying down our lives on the altar of service. This is what we are made for—to know God and to enjoy Him forever. Living in accordance with His commands brings peace to our souls and blessings to others.
This is all part of the gospel promise and reality reserved for all who come to Christ.
Christ has liberated us from the power of sin:“
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
And so, we are to seek the Lord with all our might, finding our purpose of existence in the Holy Book. The goal of our labors and the end of our joy is in Christ alone. There is no disappointment for the soul that rests in the finished work of Christ and follows the Good and Faithful Shepherd, feeding on His holy words. “
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25).