Repentance Is A Way Of Life

The word repent and its derivatives appear in the Bible well over a hundred times. We should learn what it means.

Repentance is a way of life, but only for Christians. It is a desirable way of life. In our world today repentance is misunderstood and sometimes ridiculed. Unbelievers do not know what it is and do not experience it. Satan does not want them to know what it is. Repentance is a good thing. It is a blessing. It is the way to stay in a right relationship with the Lord. It is not in unbelievers and it is not available to them until they want to become Christians.

Romans 3:12: They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Repentance is a gift of God.

2 Timothy 2:24-25: And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;

One side of repentance is turning to God. It happens first when we receive Jesus and then it happens countless times in the life of one who has received Jesus when he is convicted of his sin. The other side of repentance is turning from sin. Without turning to God, turning from sin accomplishes nothing of spiritual value. Turning from sin but not to God can increase men*s pride. If one has not repented of his sin and submitted to the influence of God, he is not a Christian at all. Salvation itself is caused by the influence of God.

Acts 20:21: Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

The simplest definition of repentance I can think of is to confess our sin, stop sinning and do what is right. The first right thing anyone can do is receive Jesus. Sometimes believers do not repent when they should, but repentance is available to them. Often we believers repent without knowing the word for it. The activity of repenting is more important than the word and it can be done without the word or its definition. A believer who confesses and forsakes his sin is repenting.

1 John 1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Proverbs 28:13: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

I believe some of the definitions of repentance found in the International Standard Bible Dictionary will be interesting and helpful.

The Old Testament word for repentance implies difficulty in breathing, hence, *to pant,* *to sigh,* *to groan.* Naturally it came to signify *to lament* or *to grieve,* and when the emotion was produced by the desire of good for others, it merged into compassion and sympathy, and when incited by a consideration of one*s own character and deeds it means *to rue,* *to repent.*

The New Testament word signifies to have a feeling or care, concern or regret. It expresses the emotional aspect of repentance. The feeling indicated by the word may issue in genuine repentance, or it may degenerate into mere remorse. Judas repented only in the sense of regret, remorse, and not in the sense of the abandonment of sin.

The word expresses the true New Testament idea of the spiritual change implied in a sinner*s return to God. The term signifies *to have another mind,* to change the opinion or purpose with regard to sin. The word is intimately associated with different aspects of spiritual transformation and of Christian life. As a vital experience, repentance is to manifest its reality by producing good fruits appropriate to the new spiritual life.

Repentance is that change of a sinner*s mind which leads him to turn from his evil ways and life. The change wrought in repentance is so deep and radical as to affect the whole spiritual nature and to involve the entire personality. The intellect must function, the emotions must be aroused, and the will must act.

There may be a knowledge of sin without turning from it as an awful thing which dishonors God and ruins man. The change of view may lead only to a dread of punishment and not to the hatred and abandonment of sin. An emotional element is necessarily involved in repentance. While feeling is not the equivalent of repentance, it nevertheless may be a powerful impulse to a genuine turning from sin. A penitent cannot from the nature of the case be stolid and indifferent.

The emotional attitude must be altered if New Testament repentance be experienced. There is a type of grief that issues in repentance and another which plunges into remorse. There is a godly sorrow and also a sorrow of the world. The former brings life; the latter, death. There must be a consciousness of sin in its effect on man and in its relation to God before there can be a hearty turning away from unrighteousness. The feeling naturally accompanying repentance implies a conviction of personal sin and sinfulness and an earnest appeal to God to forgive according to His mercy.

The most prominent element in the psychology of repentance is the voluntary. The words employed in the Hebrew and Greek place chief emphasis on the will, the change of mind, or of purpose, because a complete and sincere turning to God involves both the apprehension of the nature of sin and the consciousness of personal guilt.

That men are called upon to repent there can be no doubt, and that God is represented as taking the initiative in repentance is equally clear. The solution of the problem belongs to the spiritual sphere. The physical phenomena have their origin in the mysterious relations of the human and the divine personalities. There can be no external substitute for the internal change. Sackcloth for the body and remorse for the soul are not to be confused with a determined abandonment of sin and return to God. Not material sacrifice, but a spiritual change, is the inexorable demand of God.

Repentance is only a condition of salvation and not its meritorious ground.

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