DEFINITION: Repentance is the act of expressing sorrow for something wrong you have done. Biblically, it is a change that occurs in the mind and heart, permeates the soul and spirit, and results in changes in outward actions and spiritual direction. Conversion is a similar word, meaning to turn from the wrong way to the right way, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 11:21, 26:18).
FACTS ABOUT REPENTANCE:
Repentance is not just an emotional response. Some people associate repentance with emotions like shedding tears and feeling sorry for wrong actions and thoughts. Repentance is not an emotion. It is a decision. Emotion sometimes accompanies repentance, but it is possible for a person to feel great emotion and shed many tears and yet never truly repent.
Repentance is not fulfilling a religious requirement. Some people associate repentance with meeting special religious requirements. This is sometimes called “doing penance” for a wrong. It is possible to fulfill many religious requirements and yet never repent in the true Biblical sense.
Repentance is important. God commands it (Acts 17:30); it is necessary to avoid spiritual death (Luke 13:3); it is necessary to receive eternal life (Acts 11:18); and essential in order to be forgiven by God (Acts 2:38) and enter His Kingdom (Matthew 4:17).
Repentance is God’s desire for all. God does not want anyone to experience the spiritual death of eternal separation from God in Hell (2 Peter 3:9).
Everyone needs to repent and be converted. The Bible says: “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, NKJV). This means that everyone must repent of sin and accept Christ as Savior. This is called a born-again or conversion experience.
Believers need to repent on a regular basis. The prayer for forgiveness is part of the Lord’s Prayer, our pattern for daily prayer. Believers in Corinth were mandated to repent (2 Corinthians 7:9). The Ephesians were told to repent (Revelation 2:5), and believers at Pergamos, Sardis, and Laodicea were called to repentance (Revelation 2:16; 3:3; 3:19).
People are drawn to repentance by the goodness of God (Romans 2:4); the preaching of the Word of God (Matthew 12:41); the call of Christ (Matthew 9:13); and by being drawn by God the Father (John 6:44). Rebuke, which is correction from the Word of God, also draws men to repentance (Luke 17:3), as does godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10).
DEALING WITH REPENTANCE:
If you are an unbeliever, ask God to forgive your sin and accept Christ as Savior. This inward decision will result in an outward change in you thinking, attitudes, emotions, and behavior.
Make repentance part of your everyday prayer. Use the model of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). You do not need to get “saved” again every time your sin, nor do you need to repent for past sins already forgiven. The daily prayer for forgiveness is to make you aware of your continued need for repentance.
WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT REPENTANCE:
Psalm 51: An example of true repentance.
Exodus 9:27-35: An example of insincere repentance.
Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:7)
But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:21)
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)
The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:15)
On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
They went out and preached that people should repent. (Mark 6:12)
I tell you,…unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:3)
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7)
He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46-47)
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…” (John 6:44)
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. (Acts 2:38)
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus. (Acts 3:19-20)
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? (Romans 2:4)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it–I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while–yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)
Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning. (1 Corinthians 15:34)
Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth., and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:25-26)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. (Revelation 2:5)
Remember therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Revelation 3:3)