Repentance – turning away from sin

The word repent means to:

  • think differently afterwards (regret)
  • to reconsider. 
  • To be sorry.
  • To turn back to the starting point.

So to repent is to feel sorry, critical of yourself, or regretful for past conduct. A person who repents has regret or is conscience-stricken about a past action, attitude, etc.

Repentance involves thinking about what you have done in the past
We need to repent

The best thing a believer can do is to turn away from sin and turn to God. Repentance is a way of doing that. It means saying sorry for past sins and resolving to overcome them in the future before they take hold.

The Bible says we must repent.

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew Ch.3:2

When you wash dirty hands, the results are immediately visible. But repentance happens inside with a cleansing that isn’t seen right away. So John used a symbolic action that people could see: baptism. Baptism was used as a sign of repentance and forgiveness. Repent means “to turn” which implies a change in behaviour. It is turning from sin toward God. A changed life with new and different behaviour makes your repentance real and visible. After baptism you must continue to repent and seek God.

To survive sin we must continually repent of our sins.

I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish….I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke Ch.13:3,5
For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live! Ezekiel Ch.18:32
What are the benefits of repentance

There are three main rewards from the decision to repent:

Reward 1:  A clear conscience and freedom from guilt

When Adam and Eve sinned they tried to hide from God because of their guilt.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis Ch.3:8

After sinning, Adam and Eve felt guilt. Their guilty feelings made them try and hide from God. A guilty conscience is a warning signal God placed inside you that goes off when you’ve done wrong. The worst step you could take is to eliminate the guilty feelings without eliminating the cause. That would be like using a painkiller but not treating the disease! Those guilty feelings make you aware of your sin.

If you repent and ask God’s forgiveness then everything will be forgiven by God – he will not bring it mind. You have a clean slate and are starting afresh – the burden of sin and guilt is gone forever.

"I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. Isaiah Ch.43:25
Repentance: sins are made as white as snow

However, don’t forget to correct your wrongdoing so you don’t do it again!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John Ch.1:9
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah Ch.1:18

Reward 2:  Being more like God

When we repent it brings a positive change in us.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Isaiah CH.43:25

Repentance involves rejecting sin and this is something which will make you different from those around you. They will notice you. Standing out from the crowd is a great way for believers to witness to people without God in their lives. By being godly, you show others around you what God is like.

Changing the way you behave can be difficult but is worth it. You will replace sin with positive bahaviour such as generosity, love, peace and patience.

Reward 3:  Eternal life and the opportunity to worship God forever.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans Ch.6:22-23

The scriptures say that it is worth giving up everything to receive the gift of eternal life, so it must be unimaginably great! However, you will only get this gift if you repent.

So in summary, God has made a offer:

If we repent and reject sin, are baptised, we will receive the promise of eternal life.

Habitual sins

Sometimes we have sins which keep on reoccurring despite our best attempts to stop them. An example might be anger and a temper. The solution would be to first pray to God and then seek support from your family, friends and fellow believers. They will give you encouragement to overcome this problem.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James Ch.5:16
Intentional sinning

Some people do something wrong knowing that it is a sin. By deliberately sinning, you’re showing that you don’t love God and you don’t care. This must be very hurtful to God. Even deliberate sin can be forgiven – but you must change. If you don’t then at some point judgment will be given against you.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Hebrews Ch.10:26-27

In the time of Noah, he preached but no one repented and turned from their sins. It reached a point in time where God instructed the door of the ark to be closed and the unrepentant were destroyed.

We need to repent now and not wait until a time when it may be too late.