Understanding Repentance

It is written:

It was so good to see him, but we were encouraged even more to hear about the encouragement you gave him. He told us that you really want to see me and that you are very sorry for what you did. And he told us how ready and willing you are to help me. When I heard this, I was so much happier. 8  Even if the letter I wrote you made you sad, I am not sorry I wrote it. I know that letter made you sad, and I was sorry for that. But it made you sad only for a short time.9  Now I am happy, not because you were made sad, but because your sorrow made you decide to change. That is what God wanted, so you were not hurt by us in any way. 10  The kind of sorrow God wants makes people decide to change their lives. This leads them to salvation, and we cannot be sorry for that. But the kind of sorrow the world has will bring death. 11  You had the kind of sorrow God wanted you to have. Now see what that sorrow has brought you: It has made you very serious. It made you want to prove that you were not wrong. It made you angry and afraid. It made you want to see me. It made you care. It made you want the right thing to be done. You proved that you were not guilty in any part of that problem. (2 Corinthians 7:7-11 ERV)

What exactly is repentance?

The Hebrew word translated “repent” has an interesting background. It pictures a person who has left a house behind him, which he then sets on fire. The idea is a vivid picture of renouncing sinful ways and determining to follow the Lord.

The Greek New Testament word for repentance is equally powerful.

“What does repentance mean? The word originally meant an afterthought. Often, a second thought shows that the first thought was wrong; and so the word came to mean a change of mind. But, if we are honest, a change of mind demands a change of action. Repentance must involve both change of mind and change of action. We may change our minds and come to see that our actions were wrong; but we may be so much in love with our old ways that we will not change them. We may change our ways but our minds remain the same, changing only because of fear or prudence. True repentance involves a change of mind and a change of action. When repentance comes, something happens to the past. There is God’s forgiveness for what lies behind. Let us be quite clear that the consequences of sins are not wiped out. Not even God can do that. When we sin, we may well do something to ourselves and to others which cannot be undone. Let us look at it this way. When we were young and had done something bad, there was an invisible barrier between us and our mother. But when we went and said we were sorry, the old relationship was restored, and everything was right between us again. Forgiveness does not abolish the consequences of what we have done, but it puts us right with God. When repentance comes, something happens for the future. We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and in that power we can win battles we never thought to win and resist things which by ourselves we would have been powerless to resist.” (William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles (The New Daily Study Bible), 32 (Kindle Edition); Louisville, KY; Westminster John Knox Press)

Some people believe that true repentance means that a person will never fall away and commit sin after salvation. However, that is not true. Repentance does not mean a person will never sin again. Indeed, we are reminded all through the New Testament that Christians continue to struggle with sin (Acts 8:22; Romans 6:1-18; Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 4:15-16; 12:1-2; 1 John 1:8-2:2). As long as we are in this world, we will continue to struggle with temptation and sin. The battle between flesh and Spirit will rage within us (Galatians 5:16-17). This means that we must be ever vigilant in our walk with the Lord, continually checking our heart and our lives (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Yet another amazing fact to consider is that God will help us with whatever we need, through His Holy Spirit.

Thank God for His amazing grace!

Do you have sin in your life that is keeping you from God?

Acts 2:38-Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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