1. John the Baptist preached repentance: "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2).
The very first word that John the Baptist spoke when he began his ministry was "repent." This word means that we are sorry for our sins, and we make up our mind to leave them. We confess our sins to Jesus, and ask Him to forgive us. We pray something like this (using our own words, and praying sincerely):
"Jesus, I confess to you that I have sinned abundantly. I am sick of my present life. I am tired of my sins. You died for me. Now I want to live for you. Forgive me for all of my sins, and give me a new life. Wash me with your precious blood. In Jesus' name. Amen."Something wonderful happens when we pray the prayer of repentance: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9).
Not only does Jesus forgive us, He forgets all about our sins: "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins" (Isaiah 43:25).
2. Jesus taught that everyone must repent: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
The kingdom of God Jesus spoke about here is not a natural kingdom. It is a spiritual kingdom--His spiritual body, the church. The Jews did not understand this. They thought Jesus was coming to establish a natural kingdom and they would be free from the Romans, who ruled and taxed them.
Jesus explained to them: "And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).
3. Jesus teaches further concerning repentance: "There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galillaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwell in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:1-5).
By this, Jesus taught us that everyone, regardless of how good we feel we are, needs to repent. In fact none of us are good within ourselves:
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6).