What Is Repentance?

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What Is Repentance?

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Would you like to hear a little good news for a change? How about this: Every mistake you ever made, every wrong thing you ever did, will be forgotten—never again remembered. It is possible! But there's a condition. First, you must repent. Now stay with me. Don't go away. That is also part of the good news—you can repent!

That's right. The best news you can hear is that a way exists to escape the eternal-death penalty all humans are under. Jesus Christ gave His life for you so that through repentance and forgiveness of sin you can lead a happier, more fulfilled, blessed life now and forever.

Repentance is an integral part of the gospel message, God's good news for mankind. Repentance is not a doom-and-gloom concept; it is one of the greatest gifts and blessings that can be bestowed on anyone.

Let's look closely at this subject so we can understand our need to repent, see how repentance works in our lives and value it for the blessing it is.


Discussion: Must all people repent? Why? What does it mean to repent? How does this affect you?

• Does everyone need to repent? (1 John 1:8-10).

Note: Everyone sins and needs to be cleansed (forgiven) of doing so. Confessing that fact, and acknowledging our wrong ways before God, flow from repentant thinking.

• We should begin by understanding that each human has his own perspective on life, and it is riddled with error (Proverbs 14:12).

Note: Even Israel, the nation God directly led for centuries, insisted on following its own ways. Why? (Psalm 81:11-13).

• How do our ways invariably end? (Romans 6:23; Luke 13:1-5).

Note: God doesn't want His children to suffer the penalties for sin (2 Timothy 3:4). His ways are a gift that leads to fulfilled lives and ultimately to eternal life.

• Why aren't our ways God's ways? (Isaiah 55:8).

• So what are we to do? (Isaiah 55:6-8).

Note: It is said that the thought is the father of the deed. God shows us it is not just our actions that are wrong; it is our thinking. The very core of our thinking differs from His. We must overhaul a self-centered thinking process that leads to sin.

• What does the Bible say about our natural, human way of thinking? (Romans 8:7, Jeremiah 17:9).

• Our not being subject to the law of God leads to what? What is sin? (1 John 3:4).

• Why must man repent of sin? (Isaiah 59:1, 2).

Note: Sin separates us from God, even as the father of sin, Satan, separated himself from God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-15). Because of the influence of Satan, mankind's habitual response is to move away from God's laws.


Discussion: For one to repent, then, and move in the direction of doing God's will, what kind of change must take place? (1 Peter 4:1, 2; Ephesians 4:17-24; Romans 12:1, 2).

Note: The Greek word matanoeo, translated "repent," means to change the mind or think differently. Turning to God necessitates a change in the mind, a recognition and rejection of selfwill and a choice to embrace God's will.

• Isn't that change of thinking the work God promised He would perform under the new covenant? (Hebrews 8:10-12).


Discussion: Psalm 119 beautifully shows how harmony with God's thinking profoundly changes one's heart and enriches one's life. Let's notice how repentance is connected with this psalm's message of love for God's law and way of life.

• Does repentance lead to our experiencing richer blessings in our lives? (Psalm 119:1, 2, 14-16, 21, 24, 72, 97-100, 104, 165).

Note: Turning to God brings blessings from Him, because His ways produce fulfilled, happy and abundant lives in us, through our developing soundness of mind, understanding and wisdom. The world's ways produce unfulfilled, shallow lives, through people choosing the way of sin.

• Does repentance imply seeking God's law, commandments and statutes? (Psalm 119:2-5, 9-11, 18, 26-32, 47-48, 155).

• Does repentance require our turning from our way to God's way? (Psalm 119:26-29, 37, 59, 67, 71, 133, 134, 169, 170, 173-176).


Further study: As you read this psalm, note the ways our blessings are directly related to our following God's ways. Also consider that, to experience such blessings, we must first turn from our own ways (Proverbs 16:7, 8:32-34; Job 42:1-6, 12- 17; Isaiah 58:13, 14)


Discussion: When Christ came, He expanded the thoughts of Psalm 119. How did He incorporate repentance into the gospel message?

• Listening to the gospel is inspiring, but acting on it is life changing. What action is necessary? (Mark 1:1, 14, 15).

• Immediately after His resurrection, what message did Jesus Christ command should be preached to the world? (Luke 24:36, 44-47).

Note: Jesus died so each of us individually, through repentance, could be forgiven of sin. This message is nothing short of great news!

• But what is required before sins can be forgiven? (Acts 3:19, 25-26).

Note: God's Word stresses that repentance is necessary before one can be forgiven. Some say that "repent" means simply to repent of not having accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, and does not refer to a change in lifestyle. However, they overlook the fact that "be converted" means to turn to God, transforming our lifestyle and behavior. God commands that we both repent and be converted (Acts 3:19).

• What else does Scripture say about this? (1 John 2:1-6).

Note: It is clear that repentance is turning from sin. To turn from our ways to God's ways is to turn to Jesus Christ as our Savior and accept His authority over our lives. It is only through Him that we can receive remission of sins.

• Since it is unnatural for humans, under the sway of Satan, to be subject to God's spiritual laws, is the natural mind of man even able to comprehend these concepts? (1 Corinthians 2:11, 14).

• How, then, can one come to a right relationship with God? (John 6:44, 45, 63; 1 Corinthians 2:9-14; Romans 2:4).

Note: Until God, through His Spirit, begins to work in one's life, the natural human mind cannot know His ways. Repentance is unnatural to humans, and the process can begin in our lives only when God's Spirit works with us so we can see and accept His ways. In His patience and goodness, He leads us to repentance. To God goes all the credit, "that no flesh should glory in His presence" (1 Corinthians 1:29).

• What is God's attitude concerning a sinner coming to repentance? (Luke 15:10).

Note: The very angels rejoice when we acknowledge our transgressions and turn to God. Jesus Christ said, "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10).

• What remains, then, for us to be able to permanently receive the working of God's Spirit in our lives? (Acts 2:38).

Note: To have the Spirit of God dwelling in us, we must repent of our ways, desire to be forgiven of all sins and be baptized. Baptism symbolizes commitment to the lifelong process of obeying God and overcoming sin. To make that commitment possible, God gives His Holy Spirit, which will guide us, help us rid our lives of destructive ways of thinking and behavior, and help us grow in the blessings of His way of life. That we can repent is indeed incredibly good news from God.

Does God promise to no longer remember the sins of one who repents, is baptized and receives the Holy Spirit? (Hebrews 10:17). GN