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What is repentance?

Biblical repentance

What does it mean to repent? We turn from sin (i.e. doing wrong against God and our fellow man) with a desire to forsake sin and we turn to the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive us and have a desire to continue being obedient to Gods ways.

  • Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

  • Mark 6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

  • Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

  • Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

  • 2Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

  • Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, 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.

The meaning of repentance. The word repentance comes from the Greek word metanoio which means to think differently or afterwards that is to reconsider. To change one's mind or will. A change of mind that leads to a change of action. Repentance is a change of mind heart and direction. A change of mind and heart toward God about sin with a desire to forsake sin. Not only do we feel regret about the bad decisions we've made and remorse for the bad things we may have done to others we feel regret, remorse and guilt about what we've done to God. Like the prodigal son realized it wasn't just his father he'd sinned against he said "father I sinned against you and against heaven".

The first four Beatitudes may be taken as descriptive elements of repentance.

  • 1. poverty of spirit (the confession of one's spiritual helplessness)

  • 2. mourning (sorrow for sin),

  • 3. meekness (humble ourselves),

  • 4. a hunger and thirst after righteousness (our own righteousness isn't enough).

Just as our evil deeds need to be repented of so do our good deeds, for good and evil in man come from the same source, they are both rooted in the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. Repentance is the first act of faith and it includes these important elements -we must become transparent before God by the confession of sin to God, contrition (sincere and complete remorse) of sin and a decision to forsake sin and an earnest appeal to God to forgive according to His grace and mercy with a commitment to follow Gods ways.