Repentance goes beyond changing one’s mind as it is sometimes being preached today. Repentance was preached in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is an important doctrine for both sinner and saint. Jesus’ work on the Cross paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins so we cannot pay for forgiveness or do penance to earn it; it is a grace. That same grace will work true repentance in our heart, mind, and actions to bring noticeable change in our life if we respond correctly to God when we sin.
Repentance is the Greek word “Metanoeo” which generally means to change the mind morally for the better; to change the attitude toward. Its deeper meaning comes from the combination of words:
a. “Meta”: after;
b. “Noeo”: to think;
c. Literally, “after the mind perceives, or to perceive afterwards.”
Repentance is what we DO after our mind perceives the truth. Second Timothy 2:25 speaks of God granting “… repentance to the acknowledging of the truth,” as a part of repentance. It involves a change of mind but that is only a part of it. It’s the response after our mind/heart perceives the truth or what God is speaking. It’s what we do after our perception of truth. Something is done/changed because of what is perceived. It is an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT and an ACTION.
A great example is seen in Luke 3:3-14 where John the Baptist was preaching repentance and addressed three different groups of people (the people, the publicans, and soldiers) who were present. He told them to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance or some visible change of their repentance in their heart and mind. All three groups said, “WHAT SHALL WE DO vv. 10,12,14?” Repentance is what we do after the truth impacts us. As the axe of God’s truth cut to the root cause of sin in them, not just its consequences, they understood repentance to include what they should do after their mind perceived the truth. True repentance involves:
1. ACKNOWLEDGING THE TRUTH ABOUT OUR SIN (2 Timothy 2:25) (1 John 1:9)
This is seeing sin for what it really is and putting it into words that agree with what God’s Word says about it. Seeing the sinfulness of sin or as Paul described one of the purposes God gave the Law was “… that sin by the commandment might become exceedingly sinful Romans 7:13.” Many times our confession is not an sorrow toward God but an explanation, excuses, alibis, or shifting blame. We should also quit trying to lessen the darkness of it by calling it by a nicer name or making excuses for it.
2. GODLY SORROW (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Many confess their sins routinely with no plan on quitting what they are doing. Sometimes we regret the consequences of our sin but do not feel sorrow for offending God. Godly sorrow means we may have bad feelings that are not for the moment joyous. We are so eager to comfort people and free them from their guilt (or grieving) after they sin that we can cut them off from the very godly sorrow that will make it unnecessary for them to repent of it again.
3. A CHANGE OF HEART AND ACTIONS (Luke 3:3-14).
The God of all grace works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13) This includes the working in us to be willing to repent. Sin is always of the will. If we will allow the truth of God and word of His grace to work through us, it will produce a repentance not to be repented of or a change of heart that brings no regrets. It will work in us a desire to turn away from sin, forsaking it (Pr. 28:13), and change in our ways or actions.