Man was created to have a relationship with his Creator. The Father desires to have and is in the process of creating an eternal spiritual family. Mankind was created just for that purpose with Jesus Christ as the captain and author of eternal salvation:
“But one testified in a certain place, saying: ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. . . . though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, ” (Hebrews 2:6-10; 5:8-9).
Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden deprived man of the essential ingredient needed to bridge the gulf between mortal and immortal – that ingredient being the Holy Spirit. The personal relationship with God was broken and man’s mind, because of his rejection of God’s way, became hostile to God and His law: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).
The process of restoring that relationship begins with repentance. The Apostle Peter’s answer to a question about how to respond to Christ’s death was a simple three step program. Repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). In the Old Testament the verb “shub” is used to convey the concept of repentance. The verb implies motion or movement – to “turn” or to “return.” It indicates a turning away from evil and a turning to good.
In the New Testament, the word “metanoeo” strengthens this concept by addressing the state of mind – including the emotions – as well as the physical aspects of turning. Repentance is more than just an intellectual acceptance of the need to change – there must also be an emotional component of remorse or regret. Repentance is a complete transformation which brings the whole life of a person into a new relationship with the Father through Christ.
As we come to see our true nature – that is to see ourselves as God sees us – we recognize that the restoration of a relationship with the Father requires a deep emotional remorse for what we are, and not just for what we have done. The entire book of Job is a story of repentance. Job had to come to the realization that a relationship with God was not just about doing the right thing, but he had to see that by nature, he was wrong. When he finally came to the point of abhorring himself, he had arrived at real repentance: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6).
This mind-set allows man to be reconciled with his Father. It involves accepting in faith the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and committing to a life that will be lived according to the will of God. This restored relationship produces real change and spiritual development as the Holy Spirit becomes an active part of human life.