As already stated, true repentance is initiated by the recognition of the grace and mercy of God and isn’t only turning away from sin but turning to Jesus. But the question remains, how does one repent? Paul in Ephesians 4:22-24 explains what repentance is, and how we go about doing it. It is enacted by the decision to repent, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and made possible by Jesus.
Paul said they must first, “in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit.” (Ephesians 4:22). Once they have been convicted of their sin and they recognize the grace of God, they lay aside the former manner of life. Why do they lay aside this former manner of life? Because, they have discovered that it is useless and of no value. Too many people are holding onto their lives because they think it has value. What they don’t understand is that their life has been totally corrupted by sin, even a little sin, and is now of no value; it is worthless. Jesus said in Luke 9:24, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” In order to truly save our lives we must lay them aside.
At the moment the sinner has made the choice to lay down his old life and turn to Jesus God gives to him the gift of the Holy Spirit. Making us holy is one of the primary purposes of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:23 says that after one lays aside the old manner of life, the old self, “that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind.” After one lays down his old life the Holy Spirit immediately begins the transformational process of renewing their minds.
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The word conformed literally means to be pressed into a mold. Through pressure, intimidation, and lies the world tries to press you into its mold. The word here for transformed is the same word we get metamorphosis from. It would be an accurate description of a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. This is the very word God chose to use for the one who was once a sinner but has been transformed into a saint. The things that the sinner once thought was right he now realizes is wrong. The things the sinner once wanted to do, he no longer wants’ to do because he has been transformed from a sinful mindset to a mind set on righteousness through the power of the Holy Spirit. One cannot will themselves into righteous thinking, work themselves up, or hope hard enough. Nor, will hanging out with other righteous people rub off on them. It is only the transformative power of the Holy Spirit that makes this possible; thus the necessity to lay down ones old life and pick up the new one.
Paul then goes on to tell us in the next verse, “and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” What do we put on? We put on Jesus. Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” The literal meaning of this is to cloth yourself in Christ. We do this by faith.
So then, how does one repent? One repents by laying aside the old life and picking up Christ; literally clothing oneself in Him. The sinner does this once for salvation. However, the Christian should do this daily. They are not being resaved daily, they are simply making the choice to continue walking in the new life that has been made accessible through the blood of Jesus and daily empowered by the work of the Holy Spirit.