If someone should ask you what the most difficult command of God is, what would you say? Would you say it has something to do with loving one’s enemy? Or being a liberal giver? Or keeping one’s thoughts pure? Perhaps these are difficult. But the most difficult command is the command to repent. Acts 17:30-31 says, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance to all men, in that he raised him from the dead.”
J.H. Thayer in his Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament says the word translated “repent” means to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins. He also says the word is used especially of those who, conscious of their sins with manifest tokens of sorrow, are intent in obtaining God’s pardon (page 405).
When the prodigal son got ready to leave home, he said “Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me” (Luke 15:12). When he was getting ready to return home he had decided to say to his father, “Father…make me as one of thy hired servants.” The difference between “give me” and “make me” is what we call repentance. When we lay aside our selfish desires and turn our lives over to the Lord to make us what he wants us to be, we have repented.
Being baptized for the remission of sins is not at all difficult for the one who has genuinely repented. Neither is loving one’s enemy, giving liberally, or keeping oneself pure. That is why we say repentance is the most difficult command; once one has repented, that is, made up his mind to do right, all these things are much easier.
Because Paul genuinely repented, he was able to say, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them all but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
Have you repented? Once you do, then serving the Lord becomes much easier.