On the cosmopolitan roads of Capernaum and the shores of Galilee, Jesus Christ announced his first plain but powerful message to humanity. He declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). He went straight to the point and called for the need for repentance to gain eternal life.
Today, more than twenty centuries later, that voice lingers. Sin separates us from the love of God. Because of our fallen and imperfect nature, we continue to sin. God knows our frailty, but He still allows us to exercise our free will—the power of choice.
We can choose to be sinful or sacred. Our heavenly Father loves us and is always eager to embrace us back into His arms if we go astray in our paths. Repentance is key to allowing God back into our lives.
- 1 What Is Repentance?
- 2 Importance Of Repentance
- 3 5 Steps On How To Repent To God
- 4 5 Examples Of Repentance In The Bible
- 5 The Risks Of Procrastinating Repentance
- 6 Conclusion
What Is Repentance?
Many people often don’t know or misinterpret the true essence of repentance. Unbelievers shun the need for repentance because they don’t believe in God or sin. Others feel that merely saying sorry for their mistakes is sufficient to earn back the grace of God and other people. They ask: Does repentance work?
They also express their remorse without sincerity of heart or conviction of sin. The wicked forsake repentance and ignore God and the Holy Spirit, who abundantly pardon our sins. True repentance is a deep spiritual experience that involves a change of heart and mind. Accepting responsibility for our wrongdoings is an integral part of repentance and confession.
Change Of Heart And Mind
Repentance is much more than the verbal expression of being sorry. It essentially means a change of heart and mind and the decision to act on those mistakes. A change of heart usually means we will lose the way of life we have gotten used to.
On a deep spiritual level, repentance means the transformation from a sinful to a holy creation of God. Alfred Tozer expressed, “Much of the problem of continuing fellowship with a holy God is that many Christians repent for what they did, not for what they are.”
Confession And Repentance
Confession and repentance are not the same. Confession is when we acknowledge our sins or wrongdoings. Repentance, on the other hand, refers to the feeling of remorse about something. If we are willing to confess our iniquities and repent of our mistakes with godly sorrow, God will forgive our trespasses.
1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Without genuine sorrow and confession, repentance is insincere and fallacious. God’s anger is not removed.
Importance Of Repentance
Repentance: Remedy To Sin
We are all sinners, and nobody is exempt from repentance. Romans 3:23 reads: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus Christ demonstrated this truth when He challenged the people to cast the first stone on a woman caught in adultery if they were without sin.
Nobody stoned her, and they all left (John 8:7–9). Repentance is the only way to earn back our holy relationship with God and appease the Holy Spirit.
Removes Guilt And Shame
True repentance releases us from the crippling guilt and shame that arise from our sins. God leads people to the repentance process when they stop sinning. Isaiah 1:18 reads: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Admitting before God that we have sinned is the first step in removing guilt and shame. We must confess to God that we have crossed his laws and trampled on our lives in the vile pursuits of the world. 1 John 1:9 reads: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Reconciliation And Redemption
Since the time of the Israelites in the Old Testament, humanity has continued to disobey God and commit sins that separate us from His love. But because of His grace and mercy, we can repent of our sins and earn back good relations with God.
If my people humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then from heaven, I will hear, forgive their sin, and heal their land.— 2 Chronicles 7:14
5 Steps On How To Repent To God
1. Admission Of Sin
Like Adam and Eve, we can’t run away from God and cover our sins. Guilt and shame will consume us more as we continue to deny our sins. 2 Chronicles 30:9 states: “For the Lord, your God, is gracious and compassionate.” He will not turn his face away from you if you return to him. The first step to true repentance is to acknowledge our guilt before God.
A vital element of repentance is sorrow. Second Corinthians 7:10 says: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Grief is for sin; regret is for emotions. We don’t become sorrowful when we lose our jobs or fail an exam. We become sorrowful when we sin against God and other people.
True atonement produces grief. The pain of remorse, which convicts our hearts that we have hurt God and our loved ones, opens the gate to restoration. The number and intensity of our groans and cries do not determine repentance as an emotional experience. Real repentance means a fundamental change in our hearts and minds.
3. Confessing To God And Other People
The third step of repentance requires sinners to plead with God to smite their hardened hearts. Repentance is a continuing process that removes obstacles that lead to sanctification and truth. With our prayers, moans, and cries, we express to God our idolatrous nature and other sins in detail.
In like manner, we must also confess to other people whom we have hurt. It takes courage to declare our sins before people. But there is a higher power when we clarify and specify the exact nature of our wrongdoings to God and our neighbors.
4. Prayer And Fasting
The fourth step reveals that sincere repentance through fasting and changing to sack clothes are two examples of true repentance. In the wicked city of Nineveh, the inhabitants repented after accepting God.
Jonah 3:5 states, “The Ninevites believed in God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” When we spend time fasting, we deny ourselves the basic need for food and have a deeper spiritual connection with God.
5. Taking Action
The fifth step of repentance also means action. Paul says, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20). A sinful woman showed her repentance by attending to Jesus and washing his feet (Luke 7).
Repentance also means living by God’s Word and reading Bible verses to confront and heal our sinful nature. We follow God’s commands and acquire a holy, righteous life. 2 Peter 3:9 reads: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.”
5 Examples Of Repentance In The Bible
1. The Thief On The Cross
This man was a dying thief who repented and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Master. Jesus assured him of a place in paradise.
King David is one of the most prominent and beloved characters of God. But David sinned and committed adultery with a married woman named Bathsheba. When Nathan, the prophet, confronted him, David eventually repented.
3. The Israelites
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people, and they knew God. But they often crossed God and His laws, committing idolatry and all other sins that were abominable to God. But they also repented as a nation when the prophets revealed to them that their hardships and punishment resulted from their transgressions.
4. The Apostle Paul
As the foremost evangelist, he was formerly a persecutor of Christians. But after an encounter with God, Paul repented and also wrote a large part of the New Testament.
After Jesus was apprehended, Peter denied knowing him three times, but after the third denial, he heard the rooster crow and recalled the prediction as Jesus turned to look at him. Peter then cried bitterly as an act of repentance.
The Risks Of Procrastinating Repentance
A prolonged delay in repenting and giving your life to the Lord will anger Him. When we delay repentance, we also delay salvation. It is most sad if we reach the end of our lives while in sin and forfeit entry into the kingdom of heaven.
As insincere Christians, we often fall into the trap of false repentance. Sometimes we pretend to be sorrowful or confess our transgressions (only in public) just to put on a show and appease the people whom we have hurt.
We ask for a reprieve from God but skip heartfelt repentance. Judas Iscariot experienced sincere regret but didn’t truly repent (Matthew 27). But even an unrighteous man can pray and seek forgiveness when he repents.
Our lives and faith are in turmoil. The devil continues to “roam around looking for people to devour.” The deepening decadence of sin signals the imminent return of Christ.
In our walk with Jesus Christ, temptation and sin are the incessant struggles that we contend with every day. As imperfect human beings, we are liable to sin. But we are called not to remain sinners. People repent when they admit their sins.
Repentance is a lifelong process for a Christian on earth. Confession makes us right with God and other people. With a sincere and humble heart, true repentance restores our pious relationship with God.