WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO REPENT?

It can be quite easy for one to misinterpret or understand the meaning of repentance. While some may say that it means to ‘feel bad about something,’ some will say that it means ‘to change your mind,’ while others will state that it means to ‘turn from sin.’ Further study should be done to look into what it truly means so that we can be effective when speaking to others about repentance and understand what it means to be repentant ourselves.

I’ve always understood repentance as being truly sorry or apologetic of one’s sins, asking for forgiveness and totally turning away from those sin/sins. This would be incorrect because if we were to go by those standards, then we would never receive salvation so to speak. Atleast, I have discovered that there is more to it than just that. I would now define repentance as recognizing one’s sinful nature and need for forgiveness and salvation (a change of heart), which causes a person to believe therefore resulting in a change of lifestyle (the turning away from sin/ the desire to sin). Furthermore, we must understand that repentance does not come from within us but is given to us by God. 2 Timothy 2:25 shows us this as Paul writes, “Perhaps God will grant them repentance, leading them to the knowledge of truth.” As Burk Parson’s writes, “It is granted to us by God Himself. We would not even conceive of such a thing left to ourselves.”

The book of Matthew, chapter 3 verses 7-9, is consistent with this meaning. In this scripture, John the Baptist rebukes the Pharisees for their poor character. The religious principles and their poor spirit did not reflect that of a changed heart. They wanted to be baptized but without the change of heart, there is really no purpose. It is not the baptism that reflects true repentance but the change of heart. As Dr. Croteau mentions, “genuine repentance includes good fruit.” Their fruit was not consistent with someone who was repentant and therefore John the Baptist scolded them. “When someone has repented, it will be demonstrated by their lifestyle. It will flow from a changed heart” (Croteau, pg. 101). While this is an example of false repentance, an example of true repentance can be found in Matthew 12:41, which indicates the repentance of the people in Nineveh which occurs in Jonah 3:5. In this scripture, it is clear from their reaction to the call to repent that the people believed in God and turned from their wicked ways because they proclaimed a fast, and dressed in sackcloth and the king also declared that the people turned from their wicked ways (Croteau, pg. 101).

We must keep in mind that true repentance comes from the heart and is a gift from God. He bestows this gift upon us when we acknowledge that we are sinful and in need of forgiveness. This is a reflection of our change of heart which will lead to a lifestyle change and a desire to turn away from sin. (Though turning away from sin is not repentance in and of itself).

References:

1.Week 1 – Lecture 1 – Does “repent” means “to Change Your Mind”? (Acts 2:38)

  1. Croteau, David A. Urban Legends of the New Testament 40 Common Misconceptions.
    Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2015.
  2. Burk Parsons, “The Gift of Repentance,” Tabletalk Magazine (December 2006)

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. cherithwareley says:

    Love this Amanda. Genuinely a superb way of bringing it across.

    Liked by 1 person

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