One of the greatest opportunities we have in life is the opportunity to change. We can decide to start doing the things we should and to stop doing the things we shouldn’t. We can “turn our life around.”
It’s not uncommon to realize one day that we don’t like where we are in life. We aren’t happy, things aren’t going well, nothing seems to be working. Perhaps, deep down, we know our own bad decisions and actions have brought us to our current state. Those who may have learned biblical truths when they were younger may recognize that they haven’t been “living right” and that they need to “get right with God.”
There is an element in human nature that is naturally rebellious against our Creator (Romans 8:7), even—or especially—when being corrected. “O Lord, are not Your eyes on the truth? You have stricken them, but they have not grieved; You have consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return” (Jeremiah 5:3).
In Luke 15, the Pharisees and scribes murmured against Jesus Christ, saying that He welcomed sinners and ate with them (v. 1–2). In response, Jesus spoke several parables to illustrate that God rejoices over a sinner who repents, depicting a lost sheep that is found (vv. 4–7), a lost coin that is found (vv. 8–10), and a lost son who returns (vv. 11–32). Jesus’ deep desire is for all of us to repent of going the wrong way and return to Him.
John the Baptist came preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:1–2). Jesus began His ministry by preaching the same thing (Matthew 4:17). The Apostle Peter preached, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
The message of the Old Testament is no different: Stop doing those things God says are wrong, because they lead to suffering and death, and obey Him instead. Deuteronomy 30 concludes the blessings and curses warnings with the plea to “return to the Lord your God and obey His voice” (vv. 1–2). Doing so will bring God’s blessings, which He is eager to bestow. He desires to rejoice over us if we obey Him (vv. 9–10).
As the modern-day expression goes, “It isn’t rocket science.” Rather, it is a simple formula: Obedience to God brings happiness and blessings, while disobedience brings unhappiness and curses. Moses made a similar statement: “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off…. But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you” (Deuteronomy 30:11–16).
The prophet Isaiah joined the chorus of God’s servants who pleaded with God’s people to return to Him, saying, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
Ceasing to do things that are evil is the first step in returning to the Lord. It is also necessary to improve our thoughts because thoughts lead to actions. God will reward the efforts of those who sincerely seek Him and will have mercy on them.