1 Kings 8:48
“And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name:”
In Solomon’s famous prayer of the dedication of the temple, he discussed what would happen if God’s people rebelled. He knew the likelihood of Israel following God the rest of their history was improbable. To prepare for that time that they strayed and faced God’s judgment, he asked God to hear their prayer if they chose to repent. Solomon shows the effects of repentance in his prayer.
One of the hardest things to discern in a person who claims they are getting right is whether they are sincere. Often people claim they are getting right only to see them go back and do the same thing again. The verse above shows what happens when a person truly repents.
First, repentance starts in the heart. Solomon made it clear that true repentance involves “all their heart.” In other words, repentance always changes a person from the inside out. Public apologies are empty if it doesn’t start in the heart. When a person truly repents, you will notice a heart change in that person. Their desires will be different as a direct result of the heart change.
Second, repentance spreads to the aura of who the person is. Solomon showed that repentance affects their “soul.” It is important to notice that repentance affects the heart and soul at the same time. In other words, when the heart gets right, the countenance of the person also gets right. When a person repents, it is amazing how their attitude displays the change. The repentant person doesn’t worry about others getting away with wrong because they are more concerned with doing right themselves.
Third, repentance leads to prayer. Solomon showed that when the heart and soul get right, they will “pray unto thee toward their land.” Prayer becomes the common action of the repentant Christian because their fellowship with God has been fixed. A person who says they have changed but won’t spend time in prayer is only revealing that there is more they still need to change. When you get right with God, you will want to spend time with him.
Fourth, repentance changes actions. In verse 50, it is interesting that people will do right in the midst of their bondage. The repentant person won’t have to constantly be admonished to do right because the heart change results in an action change. Certainly, the repentant person may have to be guided on what to do, but they won’t have to be babysat to make sure they are doing right. Actions always reveal true repentance.
Fifth, repentance does right even if the situation doesn’t change. In verse 50, Solomon showed that when they repent, they will do right even if the adverse circumstances that sin caused doesn’t change. The true test of repentance is if a person continues to do right even if their life isn’t bettered. There are times when repentance causes life to become worse, but the repentant person continues to do right because their heart changed and they want to please the LORD. True repentance is unmistakeable because you will do right for the sake of pleasing the LORD.