The first thing I would like to say is repentance is a gift from God. Most of the times when I ask people to tell me what repentance is they will say, “Forgiveness” or maybe they will say, “to turn away.” If you look up the definition in a Strong’s Concordance you will find the Hebrew definition to read “to be sorry.” If you look in the Greek you will find it means “to change one’s mind.” I tend to use the Greek definition because I know if we change our mind about something, especially if it is sin, we will be sorry for it. I read a definition recently I think sums up repentance pretty well. “Repentance is a change of heart (mind) that leads to change of life and behavior.”
Romans 2:4b tells us “The goodness of God leads us to repentance.” According to this it is because of how good God is we are lead to changed minds. In Acts 5 and 11 we find statements that God gives or grants repentance. We like to think we can change our minds anytime we want to, but this kind of mind change is granted, or given, to us from God. Wow! In fact in 2 Timothy we read where Paul instructs Timothy to “instruct others that oppose themselves so God might give them repentance (a changed mind) to the acknowledging of the truth; and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, which are taken captive by him at his will.” One of the devils greatest weapons is to keep us from repentance (having our minds changed). He attempts to keep us, as some would say, hardheaded.
It seems there are plenty of people who will say something like this “I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again, I promise” only to turn around, in a very short while, and do it all over again. This is what Paul called worldly sorrow or repentance. Godly sorrow leads to changed behavior, a changed lifestyle not just a momentary change. Worldly sorrow or repentance is the kind that is only until the storm blows over. Godly sorrow leads to a complete change of perspective on things. One person might say, “I’m never going to drink again, I’m finished.” Once they get passed the sickness, or conflict the drinking caused, they will be back at it again. This is worldly sorrow. Godly sorrow is different; it finally sees the damage the drinking does and realizes this is not working the way I want it to. Every time I do this behavior I get these results therefore I am going to stop doing this. One definition of insanity is “Doing something over and over again expecting a different result.” It seems most of us have to do it over and over again for a while before we become aware of the pattern and change our minds.
I will leave you with one biblical example of what repentance does. Ephesians 4:28 tells us “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” This is not only changing your mind it is changing your behavior. This person isn’t just going to stop stealing he is going to stop stealing and go to work in order to give to others. This is what the Bible calls bearing fruit in keeping with repentance.
Written by Louie