Peter preached a powerful message to the people in Jerusalem and their hearts were stirred when they heard God’s Word and recognized their sin. Peter instructed them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

What does it mean to repent? True repentance results in sorrow, remorse, and regret over sin. Only the sacrifice of Christ’s blood can forgive. But repentance is the only way to know true healing and rejoicing. There is no other way to enter the peace and rest of Christ. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the fruit that results from repentance:

“Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11).

Repentance and trust in Christ’s redeeming blood result in total remission of sin, and that means pardon, forgiveness and freedom from sin’s power. Human compassion alone cannot convert anyone’s soul. It reaches only the flesh, unable to touch the deep places of the soul. This truth is at the very core of the gospel. You see, repentance leads to forgiveness — and forgiveness must lead to rest and rejoicing.

The burden of sin — the memories and hauntings of past sins — must not be carried beyond the cross. All mourning over past sins, all self-imposed humiliation, must be cast into the cleansing fountain of Christ’s blood. Ultimately, there comes a time when all who follow Jesus must hear him say, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

If you are fighting against a besetting sin, a stronghold of Satan, consider these four things:

Be sure you believe that the Lord still loves you. You are still under his grace and mercy.
Repent, asking the Lord to produce godly sorrow in you.
Receive God’s love, and rest in his promise to forgive you.
Believe his New Covenant word to you: “I will be merciful to you, and forgive all your sins. And I will work in you what is well pleasing to me.”
God has sent you the Holy Spirit, who knows how to deal with the enemy and free you from all bondage. He is the still, small voice that will guide you and empower you through all your battles.