Repentance is not remorse or doing penance. It is not trying to make up for your sins by doing good deeds. Jesus preached, “Repent!” So it is certainly important that we understand repentance, and the fruit it will produce. In Matthew 3:8 we read: “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
Repentance is a turning from sin to God. It is a total change. It is having a new mind and a new goal for life. It is to live with your back turned against sin, and with your life turned towards God in pursuit of Him. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul recognizes true repentance by “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.”
Repentance starts with recognizing sin. This is what occurred in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:17, where it says, “But when he came to himself ”. He was realizing his true condition, his misery, and ultimately his sin! Repentance includes sorrow. When the apostle Peter denied Christ three times, the Bible says in Luke 22:62, “And he went out and wept bitterly.” He wept because he realized he had sinned; that he had denied Christ!
In 2 Corinthians 7:9-10, Paul writes to this sinful church, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
Repentance produces confession and abandonment of sin. The young man in the parable of the prodigal son illustrates this truth in three steps.
- Luke 15:18 records the prodigal son’s intention. “I will set out and go back to my father.” Repentance is a turning around.
- Luke 15:18-19 continues, “and say to him: Father I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Repentance is confession of sin.
- Luke 15:20 then says, “So he got up and went to his father.” Repentance is an abandonment of sin.
WHAT IS EVIDENCE OF REPENTANCE?
You will forgive others. We know that God will only forgive the truly repentant. Jesus says in Mark 11:25-26, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.” Forgiveness of others is evidence that we have truly repented and understand our own need for forgiveness.
You will seek restitution with others. In Luke 19:8 it says: “And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’” Restitution is our greatest testimony to the world concerning the change that Christ has made in our lives.
For what things in your life do you need to ask God for forgiveness?
Pray to God, confessing those sins, and ask Him for forgiveness.
Is there anyone whom you need to forgive or with whom you need to seek restitution? If so, do this as quickly as possible.
- himself, 2. back, 3. sinned, 4. worthy, 5. got up, 6. forgive, 7. forgive, 8. give, 9. restore