Acts 2:37–38 (ESV)
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The Jewish crowds were listening to Peter teach and upon being convinced that Jesus was truly their Lord and Messiah, they were “cut to the heart”. The NASB translation reads that they were “pierced to the heart”. The stabbing pain that racked their soul was a result of the utter dismay and damning shame they felt for taking part in the murder of their promised Messiah. Shaken with self-condemnation and regret, they cried out to the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter decisively responded and said, “Repent, believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and receive His Spirit.”
Since this first invitation by Peter, the gospel message has been the same: To anyone who has recognized and owned their sin against the Lord, Jesus Christ, He invites them to repent, believe and be forgiven and the receive His Spirit into their lives.
Repent: To repent is to turn away from one thing and turn towards something else. It is not simply to stop an activity, say like watching horror flicks or reading pornographic-like novels, but it is to turn away from those activities because your thinking about them has changed. The gore or sensuality that once entertained you is now seen for what is really is and it no longer pleases your desires. Instead, it disgusts your soul. Thus, your only real option is to turn away from it. To repent.
Believe and be forgiven: To be exact, Peter doesn’t use the word believe but he says to “be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”. However, baptism was the ceremony that represented the reality of one’s belief and trust in Jesus. So, it is one’s sincere belief and trust in Jesus and all He taught that opens the way to receive complete forgiveness of our sins against Him.
Receive His Spirit: Not only did authentic belief and trust in Jesus bring full forgiveness of sins but it also opened the door for His Spirit to come into our hearts. His power, His character, His holy thoughts and desires, His peace, everything! Everything He is, came to dwell within us so that we could think, feel, live and love like Him and fulfill His commands.
When you find yourself disgusted after cruising the internet for hours, or when you feel the deep alienation from all those you love because of your incessant need for control, or when you're sick to your stomach because of the compromises you’ve made out of fear of losing money, or when your lying in bed fed up with yourself for passing up yet another clear opportunity to share your faith in Jesus’ with a co-worker; remember Peter’s words. When you’re “cut to the heart”, don’t withdraw from the Lord or try to cover it up and ignore your sin. Instead, face it head on. Repent (turn away from your failures) and believe in Him and receive His forgiveness. Then, receive again the truth that His Spirit is in you. Repent, believe and receive. It might sound simplistic but it is the daily rhythm of life for those who have been saved by His grace.