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Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Last month, we took a look at the word depravity, and found that mankind (including all humans everywhere) is depraved, totally depraved, and helpless apart from the grace of God. This month’s word is repentance, which is necessary to bring a depraved sinner into a right relationship with God.

Repentance is often misunderstood. Let’s first see what repentance is not.

Repentance is not merely a feeling of sorrow for sin, though it will often include that. Repentance is not merely a change of mind, though that is certainly a part of it. Just as true saving faith is much more than a mere intellectual assent to the facts of the gospel, repentance involves more than a change in thinking.

True biblical repentance includes regret for sin and remorse for having broken God’s law. However, it is much more than just remorse. (Judas was remorseful, but it did him no good.) Repentance is much more than being sorry for the consequences of one’s sin (which is often mistaken for true repentance). Repentance includes a change in thinking, but also a real change that also affects behavior. A truly repentant person not only admits his sin, but turns directly away from it, for it becomes loathsome to him. It doesn’t mean he never sins again, of course, but when he does, he hates it.

Repentance is an essential part of the gospel; a person cannot be saved without it. Both John the Baptist and Jesus Himself came preaching “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” A gospel presentation must include repentance. Consider the culmination of Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill: “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30b).

Repentance is a godly sorrow for one’s sin combined with a resolution to turn from it. But biblical repentance only starts there. Yes, it turns from sin, but it also turns toward the only remedy for sin – it turns to the Lord Jesus Christ. To turn from sin but not turn toward Christ is useless; to turn toward Christ without abandoning sin is hypocritical; neither of those things is true repentance.

Repentance is done as a person comes to saving faith in Christ. Repentance is also (or should be!) a frequent part of the Christian’s life, as he continually turns away from sin, confessing it when needed, and daily looking to Christ for his life and sustenance and joy.

Do you have a heart of repentance?


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