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Meaning and Examples of Repentance

Different Meanings of Repentance

  1. Change of mind, re-calculate, re-do, or re-think

  2. To Turn from Sin

  3. Be Sorry for Sin

One can change their minds and still not repent. You can also be sorry for your sin but still continue to sin. Real repentance is being so sorry you do not do it again or at least are determined to give it up completely. That is godly sorrow that leads to true repentance.

Those that have GPS. Every time we do not follow the directions and get off track, it re-calculates to send us back on the right track. That is what studying the bible with the right motive does for us. Sends us in the right direction back into fellowship with God.

If we study the bible to find fault, to find a loop hole so we can continue to do something that could be a sin we don't want to give up, we will not usually get understanding and turn in the right direction. Yet all things are possible with God. I have heard of conversions to Christ that have come about by someone reading the bible to disprove it. Another person found the Lord by reading the bible to prove something to someone he was arguing with. So in all things God reaches even the ones that are unreachable. The Holy Spirit is the one that draws people to the Lord for salvation. So in our study of repentance, we must remember who really knows what all these things mean and has perfect truth if we seek Him for understanding.

We still can turn over a new leaf, change our minds, do good deeds instead of evil but not be saved. So to be truly saved we repent and believe the gospel which is salvation by faith in Jesus our Christ who died to save us from sin. To learn more we will turn to the scriptures. The Holy Spirit and the written word is a powerful combination.

  • 2Chronicles 7:14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 

This verse was written before the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus which shows us that repentance is taught in both the Old Testament and the New one. It was written to the nation of Israel in the days of Solomon warning them about the judgment of God if they fell into sin and wickedness. However God tells them that if they call on His name, humble themselves, seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, He will forgive their sin and heal their land. This is an example of true repentance. Changing their minds and to be sorry for their sin to the point of turning away from sin.

So this is verse is for Israel we do know that for sure, but does it apply to us today? Does it apply to those of us that are not of the nation of Israel? I would say yes, because it says, "If My people which are called by My name." That would include those that have received Jesus, the one God sent to save people of all nations from sin and reconcile those that are lost back to the Father in Heaven. Faith in Christ makes us "His People" too. Jesus is the way back to God if we have backslidden as individuals or as a nation.

Repentance is necessarily for someone that is not saved or has never received Jesus into their lives but it is also for those that have known Jesus but has fallen back into sin.

  • 1John 2:1  My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 
    1Jn 2:2  And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 
    1Jn 2:3  And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 
    1Jn 2:4  He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 
    1Jn 2:5  But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 
    1Jn 2:6  He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.  

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

So we see repentance is for believers in God and in Jesus Christ but as we study the book of Acts, and some of the writings of Jesus, we will see repentance is for those that are coming to Jesus for salvation that never knew Him before.

The following verse in Exodus shows a different kind of repentance.

  • Exodus 13:17  And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 

In Exodus we see another type of repentance that really is not to obtain salvation. This use of the word repent is to re think or change the mind also but toward the wrong way not the right. After Israel left Egypt, God led them through the wilderness instead of through the land of the Philistines. If they saw trouble and war the might repent (change their minds about going to the promise land). They had to learn to trust in the Lord first before facing a war with enemies.

In Hosea we see a danger of losing fellowship with God, leaving His hand of protection, and going back into sin. I sometimes wonder if our sin in the United States caused the hand of protection to be absent during the 9/11 attack on the Trade towers in New York. I'm not sure about that. There are still people that love the Lord in this country and grieve over the widespread abortion that can be done during the whole nine months. Lately we found out little baby's body parts are harvested and sold. The attitude when found out was to prosecute the ones that exposed the evil instead of prosecuting the ones that did the evil. Now its gotten worse as some want to allow a baby to die if its born alive after a botched abortion. Shame shame on people that do this evil. Do we want to lose God's hand of protection? I don't care how great and powerful our armies are. If God forsakes us, we are not going to be so great.

  • Hosea 5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.

Although God was speaking to Israel back in the days when they forsook God, sinned and went into idolatry, this can apply to us if we turn away from God and return to sin. This is scary. Sin will cause god to withdraw from us if we continue in it and refuse to acknowledge His word and repent. To undo the damage we must acknowledge our offense. Confess our sins and realize we need to desire God's presence. All through the bible repentance is the key to restoring fellowship with God. From Genesis to Revelation's letters to the churches, we see this.

Here is repentance:

  • Hosea 6:1 Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and he will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.
  • Hosea 6:2 After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.
  • Hosea 6:3 Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.

Oh Lord my God your Word is beautiful. Verse 2 in Hosea 6 seems to give us a hint of our Lord Jesus Christ and how our salvation was to be accomplished by His first coming to die for our sins and raise again from the dead to provide for our eternal life.

Now we will go to the New Testament scriptures to see how repentance is connected to our salvation. After 400 years of silence between the Old Testament period and the New Testament period at the birth of Christ, the first words we hear preached to the crowds is Repent. John the Baptist preached repentance first. The first words aside from God sending an angel to announce the birth of Christ and John the Baptist, are about repentance. So we see how important it is to repent and understand what that means

  • Matthew 3:1  In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 
    Mat 3:2  And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  

Then we see Jesus saying the same thing

  • Matthew 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 

Repentance in the parables:

The first passage is in Luke 15: 18-32. The story of the Prodigal son.

  • Luke 15:11  And he said, A certain man had two sons: 
    Luk 15:12  And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 
    Luk 15:13  And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 
    Luk 15:14  And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 
    Luk 15:15  And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 
    Luk 15:16  And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 
    Luk 15:17  And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 
    Luk 15:18  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 
    Luk 15:19  And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 
    Luk 15:20  And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 
    Luk 15:21  And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 

In verse 21 of Luke 15 we see an example of true repentance. The wayward son had a change of mind, was truly sorry for sin and sought forgiveness. This is not a repentance for eternal salvation but the act of repentance is similar. We need this mindset when we seek Jesus for forgiveness of sin and receive His salvation.

In Luke 18:10 we get closer to an example of repentance in connection to our eternal life or what we call being born again, saved from sin.

  • Luke 18:10  Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 
    Luk 18:11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 
    Luk 18:12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 
    Luk 18:13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 
    Luk 18:14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.  

This one is a great example of being saved by grace not by works. Doing good deeds, paying tithes or even living a life that is good, a life that is not committing crimes or doing evil is not going to automatically bring salvation and eternal life to anyone. Being a good person apart from Christ will not save the soul from sin. We need Jesus, we must be born again and genuine repentance accompanies true salvation. We change our minds. We stop going our own way or the way of the world and we turn and receive Jesus into our lives.

If our lives continue on with no change, we really haven't repented. We won't be perfect overnight, we learn as we grow, but real repentance will bring forth fruit. We lose our desire to sin and start following Christ.

In the above story in Luke 18, the one the Lord said was justified was the one that was humble and asked for mercy. So we see also that true repentance is humbling ourselves, recognizing that we have sinned and asked for God's mercy. The Prodigal Son story in chapter 15 of Luke also shows one that admits he sinned and was sorry.

The Woman Taken in Adultery. An example of conviction of sin but no repentance leading to salvation in the Pharisees and scribes.

  • John 8:3  And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 
    Joh 8:4  They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 
    Joh 8:5  Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 
    Joh 8:6  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 
    Joh 8:7  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 
    Joh 8:8  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 
    Joh 8:9  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 
    Joh 8:10  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 
    Joh 8:11  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.  

The woman received salvation without actually repenting but Jesus must have seen something in her heart that meant the same thing. He did warn her not to sin anymore so we do see that when God forgives us for sin, we are not to continue in it. Another proof that genuine repentance that leads to salvation involves the desire to stop sinning. The Pharisees and scribes which brought the woman to Jesus were convicted at His words but there is no real repentance, at least none recorded in scripture.

One of the best examples of true repentance is in Matthew chapter 21:

  • Matthew 21:28  But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. 
    Mat 21:29  He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. 
    Mat 21:30  And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. 
    Mat 21:31  Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. 
    Mat 21:32  For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.  

The second son mentioned in the Matthew 21st parable is similar to the scribes and Pharisees that claim to do God's word. They say they will do it but they didn't believe when God the Son was standing right before in person. The first son is similar to sinners who ignore God and live the way they want to but later have a change of heart and mind. They repent and start living for God. This is not encouraging us to go and have a season of sin first then start living for God because we could die before we have a chance to receive salvation. As soon as we hear, we better repent then and there. It does show us though an example of true versus false repentance.

The Thief on the Cross

  • Luke 23:39  And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. 
    Luk 23:40  But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 
    Luk 23:41  And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 
    Luk 23:42  And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. 
    Luk 23:43  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.  

Here is a story of real repentance. The second thief acknowledged his sin, was sorry for sin, believed who Jesus was, had a change of mind. He was saved.

Repentance Part 2 The conversion of Paul the apostle

 


 
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