<<regret an action>>

Starting with taking personal responsibility and a change of mind for what we have done, repentance is a complete change of direction resulting in altered behavior, proving the decision is genuine (Lk 3:8-14; Act 26:20). Having previously rejected Jesus (either wilfully or in ignorance), we must now change our minds for “God commands all people everywhere to repent” (Act 17:30).  In mercy God draws us to Himself and He accepts our repentance because “He doesn’t want anyone to perish…” (Jn 6:44; Act 5:31, 11:18; Rom 2:4-9; 2 Tim 2:25; 2 Pet 3:9). However the unrepentant exclude themselves from God’s mercy and will reap the penalty for their sin because the way to eternal life is through repentance (Isa 59:2; Ezek 14:6; Rom 2:5-9; 1 Jn 1:6-10).

At salvation, there must be a general all-encompassing repentance for past sin, and then as the Holy Spirit convicts there will be the need for the ongoing repentance from our selfish, carnal manner of life as we continue to walk with God (Rev 2:5). By resisting conviction and refusing to repent we block the only way to receiving Christ’s mercy, blessing and spiritual refreshment because it is sin which hinders fellowship with Him. Visible actions, hidden thoughts or attitudes may all be causes (Mt 5:27,28; Heb 12:1).

Repentance is a major aspect of salvation yet it is not emphasised sufficiently.  Salvation is not just accepting Christ; it must be preceded by turning from sin. It is not just adding Jesus to one’s life but also involves subtracting sin and turning from all that is unrighteous. There is no genuine

Repentance is necessary for forgiveness and to walk in harmony with God

salvation without this change of direction called repentance; repentance and faith are both needed (Lk 13:3,5; Act 20:21). True repentance goes beyond admitting guilt. It involves turning to the Lord ‘with all your heart, soul and mind’ which will show itself in changed actions. Jesus, Himself, emphasised repentance (Mt 4:17). Paul emphatically stated, "God demands all people everywhere to repent" (Act 17:30). Those unwilling to turn from sin and consider they can live independently from God will suffer the eternal consequences (Rom 2:5).

Associated activities

1/. The Bible declares, “Repent and be baptised so that your sins may be forgiven”. Baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation  but an outward indicator that a person has finished with the old way of life and is living a new lifestyle – it is a sign of the inner change having taken place (Lk 24:47; Act 2:38). It is impossible to fully and genuinely change your mind without a corresponding change in behavior which is the fruit of repentance – right actions now and consistently continuing into the future replacing wrong actions of the past (Mt 3:8; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 5:19-23; Jas 2:14-26).

2/. Confession follows the change of mind and behaviour which is repentance. Saying sorry to God, acknowledging the sin committed, is the basis upon which forgiveness of sins is promised, because only sin that is repented of and confessed can be forgiven (Ps 51:4; 1 Jn 1:9). Further confession and asking the forgiveness of the individuals involved should follow. If the sin has affected the church public confession, (naming the sin yet without all the details), may need to be undertaken. Begin by confessing in confidence to mature Christians, who can guide and provide spiritual support (Jas 5:16).

3/. To the degree we face our sin, confess and accept forgiveness we are released from the guilt and emotional burden of it. This can be both radical and costly for it involves humbling oneself in confession and restitution (Lk 19:8; Act 19:18-20). When acknowledging our wrong, we should also confess our dependency and allegiance on God, who alone can deliver us from the old self-life.  

The ‘cheap gospel’ sinner’s prayer saying ‘I’m sorry’ (with life carrying on as before but with a bit of Jesus thrown into the mix) does not address the seriousness of sin and the abhorrence of continuing on that path as there is seldom any demonstration of repentance – the honest and complete turning away or breaking from sin and change of behaviour to ‘walk in His ways’.  Through the humiliation of

Our actions show the reality of our repentance

taking responsibility a person can start on the road to wholeness and release.  We weep over difficulties in our lives, sorrows, and disappointments yet seldom over our sin.  We are apathetic, indifferent, unaware, proud, and too self-righteous to deal with this obstacle of sin, as it is not in our nature to repent.  By being specific in our repentance, we get a better understanding of our inherent, sinful nature as the deeper and more meaningful the repentance, the less likelihood of transgression in that area again. We must see the seriousness of sin that cost Jesus His life and locks people out of heaven. With genuine repentance the heart is broken for its sins and broken from its sins, resulting in the joy of a cleansed life and because of a restored relationship to God a testimony to share (Ps 51:2,9,12,13). With the Lord's enabling it is our responsibility to walk in the light (Gal 5:1; 1 Jn 1:7).

4/. This inner, heart change will lead to a transformed lifestyle of right actions (Joel 2:13; Mt 3:7,8; Act 26:19,20). The Bible instructs us to turn from sin to God and, in faith, live the kind of life acceptable to Him, “Walking in newness of life...rejoicing in sins forgiven” and the resulting spiritual freedom (Rom 6:4). This involves a complete ‘about face’, accepting the truth when confronted, not making excuses but instead taking responsibility for our actions, along with a willingness to face the consequences, focusing on the hurt caused to God and the other person. It is then the blood of Christ can be applied to rid our lives of sin and clear our record of its blemish.

5/. Remorse is only the self-pity which is experienced by an offender who has been caught out. As they rationalize and make excuses there is no desire to consider anyone

Do we hate sin as God hates it?

else or change their lifestyle (1 Sam 13:8-14, 15:3,13-30; Mt 27:3-5; Heb 12:17).  In contrast, Godly sorrow produces repentance that leads to life because it is a decision of the will (rather than the emotions) and is evidenced by altered actions (Ezek 18:32; Lk 3:8-14; Act 3:19, 20:21; 2 Cor 7:9,10). There is joy in heaven when a sinner repents and they acknowledge ‘I have sinned against God and you’ (Lk 15:8-10,18). Jesus said, “Why call me ‘Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” (Lk 6:46). Obedience is always the best option, rather than repenting after sinning as sin breaks the relationship with a holy God, yet He will not ignore a broken and genuinely sorry attitude of heart. Repentance is a very positive thing because it is the first step to reconciliation, restoring a right relationship with God, by acknowledging ‘I’m a sinner, I want to change, so help me God’. With restored fellowship, we will respond “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin…?” (1 Sam 15:22; Ps 51:17; Prov 21:3; Mic 7:18; Rom 6:1,2).

Often we need to repent that we have failed to put God above all else (Ex 20:3; Mk 12:30). Listen to and obey your conscience; don’t silence it or make excuses for your actions but accept the rebuke and set about making amends. God also speaks to us through other

Each time we sin, we need to repent

people who serve Him and we must listen to them and respond appropriately.  A humble person doesn’t make excuses, but instead has the courage to listen to the correction of others and admits ‘yes, this is the truth.  I am wrong, I must change’ following through with appropriate lifestyle adjustments. Sinfulness is rooted in our character whereas mercy and forgiveness rooted in God's character.

See also: behaviour, cheap gospel, confession (of sin), forgive/forgiveness, fruit, holy/holiness, lifestyle, regret, remorse, restitution/restore, salvation, sin/sinners, sinner’s prayer, sorry, transformation.