5 R’s: #1 Real Repentance

What is repentance?

The dictionary definition says repentance means “to feel sorry, remorseful, or contrite for a past action, attitude, sin or wrongdoing; to remember or regard with self-reproach or contrition.

In the Bible times, repentance was often accompanied by fasting, weeping, and sitting in sackcloth and ashes. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for repentance was to be penitent but also to be “comforted, eased,” and also to “turn back.” I know from personal experience that the times I have repented for my sins, I have truly been comforted and my guilty conscience before God has been put at ease.

In the New Testament, the word for repentance, “metanoia,” meant to “have a change of mind.” I believe this goes along with the Old Testament definition of turning back. In other words, having a change of mind, turning away from sin and rebellion, and turning back to God.

Is it necessary?

Repentance is the opposite of pride. It admits that God is right and you are wrong. It dethrones self and puts God in His rightful place back on the throne of your life. Throughout the Bible, it is a requirement before gaining eternal life or abundant free life here on earth! Ezekiel 18:30-32 says, “Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”

And in II Chronicles 7:14-15:

“…if my people, who are called by my name, will 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. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place (your repentant heart).”

Is it a one-time thing?

Repentance is not a one-time deal. From the time you turn your life over to God through belief, repentance is a lifestyle. As God makes you aware of ways that your heart has been led away from him to other affections (called idols), or you have disobeyed Him, He wants you to repent-over and over if necessary.

“When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin–and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.” I Kings 8:46-49

Is it based on feelings?

If feelings were a requirement for repentance, I don’t think God would have commanded it. He doesn’t say, “Wait until you feel ready to repent.” He just says over and over throughout scripture that we should do it and not put it off. Often times when we begin the process of repentance out of obedience, feelings follow. I have also discovered that periods of fasting (see “Resolute Fasting) bring about feelings of repentance for my sins. In self-denial I become aware of the ways I have hurt God with my behaviors. And what can you expect from this act of obedience? Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

How can you determine true repentance?

The answer to that is found inActs 26:20 “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”