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            In Acts 26:19-20 Luke was guided to write, “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”

            Repentance is one the hardest of God’s commands. Why? Because it means that we must change. We have seen in our studies of God that God does not change (please read Malachi 3:8; Psalms 102:27; Hebrews 13:8), hence, it is we who must change, not God. We must be in alignment with his will. We need to change our lives and thinking if we would be acceptable to Him. We must be the ones who change – we cannot expect God to change because he is perfect.

            The Greek word that is translated “repent” means “to think differently or afterwards, reconsider (Strong’s Exhausted Concordance). Esau “found no place for repentance, thought he sought it carefully with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16-17). The prodigal son changed his mind and went back home, and prostrated himself and asked for forgiveness from the father (Luke 15:11-32).  One of the two sons that we read about in Matthew 21:28-32 refused to obey their father, then did what the father requested. The other said he would go, but refused. Both repented, one did his father’s will, the other did not. One who genuinely repents is humble, standing far off, realizing his dependance on God and seeks to do God’s will. 

            Why should we repent? Romans 2:4 states, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”  We repent to be comforted (Matthew 5:4), have life (Acts 11:18); to keep from perishing (Luke 13:3-5); and to enter heaven (Matthew 5:8; Psalms 24:3-4; Revelation 21:8, 27).


It is not SORROW! (Matthew 14:1-11).  Herod was sorry for the promise he had made about John the Baptist, yet he still had John beheaded.

It is not GODLY SORROW. 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 states, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. This tells us that godly sorrow leads too repentance. 

One may be sorry for sinning, yet continue to break God’s law. 

It is not CONFESSION. In Matthew 27:3-5 Judas had confessed he had betrayed innocent blood and confessed his sin. Yet he went and hanged himself, going to his own place (Acts 1:25). 

It is not a REALIZATION OF CONDEMNATION.  Matthew 27:3-5 Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.

It is not COMING FORWARD.  Many “come forward” and confess sins, but they never repent. They do not change. Coming forward and telling everyone what the sin is is not repentance. It is the confession phase – one must change their manner of life so as not to sin anymore. Repentance will bring about a confession of sin, but its not the confession itself. 

Repentance produces a change of life, thoroughly changing one’s life so everyone can see the change. (see also Jeremiah 7:3-7; 2 Corinthians 7:10-11; Revelation 2:5; Acts 8:22; Galatians 5:19-26; Colossians 3:1 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Have you fully repented of sin? Are you striving to be more and more like our Savior?

This article was adapted from Magnolia Messenger Winter 2023 James Pilgrim, (Ripley MS) pps 10-11)

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