Defining Repentance

Let us consider some scriptures that teach the doctrine of repentance.  (Luke 24:46-47)  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: {47} And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem .  Here we learn of the will of Jesus Christ as He addressed His faithful followers before He ascended back to the right hand of the Father.  He stated that He wanted repentance to be preached among all nations.  From this we gather that repentance is very important for the world to hear.  What is repentance?  When the word repentance is examined from the original language, we find that it means: a change of mind.  Repentance, then, brings about a change of how people think or use their mind.

The scriptures teach the details of repentance.  Notice a verse presenting repentance: (2 Cor 7:10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  Here we learn that a specific type of sorrow is associated with repentance.  Specifically, this sorrow is referred to as “Godly Sorrow”.  When we read this verse thoroughly, we find that this “Godly Sorrow” is compared to the “Sorrow of the World”.  While godly sorrow is unto salvation, worldly sorrow is unto death.  In this we notice that it is important to clarify what is meant by the definition of the word repentance that we noted earlier as being a change of mind.

In order to clarify the meaning of repentance, we feel the need to look to the Word of God.  When we let scriptures interpret scriptures, we can have confidence in what we find.  Let us return to the chapter previously mentioned.  In this chapter we find the following verse to state: (2 Cor 7:11) For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.  Here we learn that this godly sorrow brought about many things.  In these we find much relating to how the mind had been affected.  When we consider what is taught here, we find that true repentance involves the total desire of an individual.  Godly sorrow worked to change the individual’s “want to”.  If we compare this to a worldly sorrow, we would conclude that the outcome was NOT the same.

Let’s notice an example of being sorry yet not finding repentance.  (Heb 12:17) For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.  Here we find a person in such sorrow that he cried.  This condition was NOT repentance and the scripture points that out.  This sorrow was NOT after a godly sort.

True repentance is towards God, away from the world.  Notice one verse presenting this point: (Acts 20:21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  One who repents totally turns from the world unto God.  Many seem to present that a person can find God while they hold their love for the things of the world.  This teaching is not true.  The world lies in wickedness and is against God.  The repentant yearns to escape the world’s evil to have a relationship with God.

Let’s be careful to rightly divide the Word of Truth.