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Repentance and Forgiveness
When someone decides to become a Christian, some truly amazing things happen.
An important part of becoming a Christian is turning away from sin and turning to God. The technical term for this is “repentance”. Repentance begins when we realise and admit that we have sinned: that we’ve thought, said and done countless wrong, hurtful, and unhealthy things. When we become aware of just how miserable and hopeless our sin really is, we will want to ask God for his forgiveness, his help, and his salvation. God promises to forgive our sin when we turn to him.
Even though our attempts to stop sinning will be imperfect, God’s forgiveness is total and complete. Our sins can be completely forgiven and forgotten. The Bible says: “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Not only does God remove our sins—past, present and future, he actually exchanges our sins for Jesus’ goodness (or righteousness.) This is how much God loves us!
Regeneration and the Holy Spirit
When we put our faith in Jesus and decide to follow him, God comes and lives with, or within, us through his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes and renews (or regenerates) our own spirit. This is often called being “born again”. This is a vitally important first step of the process of salvation. We receive the Holy Spirit and become “born again” simply through faith—by entrusting our life to Jesus.
Some people are very aware of the moment when the Holy Spirit takes up residence with them, others are not. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit sets a person apart as especially belonging to God.
One of the Holy Spirit’s main roles is to gradually and progressively make a Christian become more and more like Jesus. The Holy Spirit powerfully works inside us to strengthen, counsel, guide and to comfort. If we cooperate with his leading, he will help us to become strong in our faith and more loving, patient and kind. The Bible tells us that the workings of the Spirit produce: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (or faith), gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22).
The Holy Spirit will also point out some of our faults from time to time, and help us to overcome them. This can be a difficult, slow and painful process at times. The Christian life involves perseverance and endurance. However the Christian journey is also exciting and fulfilling when we walk closely with God.
So many things happen when we become a Christian. By entrusting our lives completely to Jesus we become undeserving recipients of forgiveness of sin; deliverance from darkness; regeneration as our spirit is reborn and renewed; adoption as God’s own beloved children; justification, which effectively exchanges our sins with Jesus Christ’s righteousness; sanctification as the Holy Spirit sets us apart as especially belonging to God, and begins his work of making us become more and more like Jesus; and reconciliation which allows us to come near to God in a close relationship, instead of being distant. Many of these things can happen without us even being aware of it because God usually leads us gently.
As we spend time with God in conversation and Bible reading, we can discover more about this wonderful salvation that God offers through Jesus. I truly hope that you take up his offer of salvation.
If you want to know more about becoming a Christian, or how to live as a Christian, please contact us, or leave a comment here.
Next: Growing as a Christian – Reading the Bible.
 For more on the process of salvation see my article on Instant Christianity.
 The process, where the Holy Spirit sets a believer apart as a Child of God, is a called sanctification. Sanctification continues as that person is gradually molded and formed to more and more embody the qualities of Jesus.