Repentence is turning away from sin. It is giving up the love of sin. It is setting aside our affections for everything that we know is wrong in our lives.
WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
There are two Greek words translated “repentance”. The one means little more than remorse. The other Greek word means “a change of one’s whole attitude.” This is the word that Jesus used when speaking about repentance, and it is the word used by Paul and John.
Repentance is godly sorrow. It it a change of attitude toward God and toward sin. It is turning away from sin and turning to God. It is a complete “turn about face”.
Repentence is a much-used word throughout the Bible. The Old Testament prophets called upon people to repent. Ezekiel 14:5-6 says, “The house of Israel… are all estranged from me through their idols. Therefore say unto the house of Israel… Repent and turn yourselves from your idols, and turn away your faces from all of your abominations.”
John the Baptist cried out, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). Jesus said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
Peter preached the Gospel and said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38).
One of the parables which Jesus told, states that a man had two sons. The father came to the first son and said, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” His son said, “I will not, “ but afterward he repented, and went (Matthew 21:28-29). He come to his second son and said likewise, and the boy answered “I will go,” but actually never went. The Jesus asked, “Which of the tow did the will of his father?” They answered “The first son.”
The reason it is proper to say that the first son did the will of his father, is because he did what his father had asked of him. That is repentance. When a person repents of his sin, he leaves that sin and takes God’s side against it.
REPENTANCE IS TO BE TOWARDS GOD
The Bible says that repentance is to be “toward God” (Acts 20:21). Why? Because our sin is against God. This is what makes sin so terrible.
David sinned wickedly against his fellow human beings. He committed adultery with Uriah’s wife, and then sent Uriah into the heat of a battle to make sure he would be killed. David then took Bathsheba to be his own wife and he thought his sin would be covered. However, David’s sin was discovered. The Bible says, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). And when David saw his sin in its true light, he cried out to God and said, “Against thee and thee only have I sinned” (Psalm 51:4). Sin is an offense against God.
Because sin is an offense against God, repentance must be “toward God”. If my repentance is not toward God, it is not true repentance.
A ship encountered a great storm at sea. Some of the passengers were drinking; some were gambling; some were using profanity and dancing. The captain reported, “We are in trouble; the ship has sprung a leak.” The profane man stopped swearing; the gambler laid aside the cards; the drinking man set aside his bottle; and the dance floor was turned into a prayer hall.
These people repented toward sudden death. However, if the ship had gone down, and they would have died even on their knees, this would not necessarily have been true repentance.
Later, the captain came with these words: “All is well; we will most likely reach the shore.” The cursing man uttered an oath; the drinking man poured out a drink; the gambler bean shuffling the cards; and the floor which had been used for a prayer service was again used for dancing. This was not true repentance toward God.
True repentance is not a mere concern about one’s reputation. A man show often got drunk and frequently had been beating his wife and children, was one time taken to prison. When he sobered up, he said, “What will people say about me? This will ruin my reputation.” You see, he was sorry, not because he became drunk and cruelly treated his wife and children, but because he was caught in his sin.
True repentance is genuine sorrow for the deed, not mere sorrow for being caught.
A person may be convicted of sin and still never repent. No one really repents until he is deeply conscious that he has sinned against God. If people will keep going on in their merry way and do nothing about making a clear change in their manner of living, there is nothing left but punishment in a place of continual conscious suffering. “Repentance” is doing something about it.
TURNING FROM SIN
It is godly sorry that leads to repentance. That was the kind of sorrow that Peter experienced after he had denied Christ. He went out and wept bitterly, repenting of his sin. That was the kind of sorrow the publican manifested when he cried out, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
Conviction is part of repentance; sorrow is part of repentance; but there is still one more factor in genuine repentance. One who repents, turns from sin. A man realizes that he is a sinner, he is sorry for it; and with God’s help, he gives it up. He breaks with the former way of living.
Some may say, “I need not repent because I’m not a drunkard, nor a murderer, nor an extortioner, nor a fornicator.” But then how about one having a tinge of resentment in his heart toward another person, or harboring incomplete forgiveness, or having made a shady deal in business, or uttering a slanted statement about another person in order to exalt self? Below are some important relevant Bible references:
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
John 8:34, 35
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
And not rather, (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
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