True repentance is the result of an accurate understanding of the significance and gravity of sin, coupled with an overwhelming desire for the remission of that sin through the person and work of Christ and turning from sin and dead works to faith and obedience.
True repentance starts with the recognition of the holiness of our God. We cannot rightly perceive the greatness of his goodness without apprehending the puniness of our own. Such a realization causes us to fall down in humility before God.
Genuine repentance is not a convenient escape hatch after a weekend or a life of folly. It means admitting specific wrong, recognizing your offensiveness to God, changing course, turning to Christ, and wishing with all your heart you had never made the mistake you now despise.
That All May See Progress by Kevin DeYoung taken from The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2012, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 141.
Feelings of sorrow alone aren’t necessarily conviction. We can be sorrowful for many reasons, including selfish ones. We can be sorry for the bad consequences of our sin, sorry we were caught, sorry we lost someone’s respect. The kind of worldly grief can’t begin to address the true offense of sin, and it can’t begin to change us [see 2 Cor. 7:8-9]. Only godly grief brings repentance. And only repentance testifies to the surgical effect of God’s truth applied to our sinful hearts.
The sure test of the quality of any supposed change of heart will be found in its permanent effects. Whatever, therefore, may have been our inward experience, whatever joy or sorrow we may have felt, unless we bring forth fruits meet for repentance, our experience will profit us nothing. Repentance is incomplete unless it leads to confession and restitution in cases of injury; unless it causes us to forsake not merely outward sins, which others notice, but those which lie concealed in the heart; unless it makes us choose the service of God and live not for ourselves but for Him. There is no duty, which is either more obvious in itself, or more frequently asserted in the Word of God, than that of repentance.
Genuine repentance will make itself evident by its deeds and attitudes (Lk. 3:8; Ac. 26:20). The repentant person will:
1. Freely acknowledge his sin (1 Jn. 1:9; Pro. 28:13a).
2. Cease the activity for which he was disciplined or at least seek help if it’s a case of life dominating patterns (Pro. 28:13b; Gal. 6:1f; Jam. 5:19-20).
3. Make restitution and/or ask for forgiveness from those hurt as it is applicable (Phil. 18-19; Matt. 5:23-24).
4. He/she will demonstrate a genuine change of heart, a real concern and godly sorrow over his actions, not in order to be forgiven, but because of the harm caused to the glory of God and the hurt caused others (2 Cor. 7:8-11; Ps. 51:17).
5. He/she will begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit and a concern for the things of Christ (Gal. 5:22f).
True repentance not only should but will have corresponding genuine works, demonstrated in both attitudes and actions… Those who claim to know Christ, who claim to be born again, will demonstrate a new way of living that corresponds to the new birth.
True repentance involves sorrow over the evil of sinful deeds; false repentance involves only sorrow over their harmful consequences. False repentance concerns itself with conduct; true repentance with man’s inner condition. False repentance deals with the symptoms; true repentance with the disease.
How should we repent when rightly rebuked? In four ways: 1. “I was wrong.” Plain, honest, no evasions. 2. “I am sorry.” Brokenhearted, realizing the damage done. 3. “It won’t happen again.” Rebuilding trust for the future. 4. “Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?” Performing deeds in keeping with repentance (Acts 26:20; Matthew 3:8).
The outcome of repentance is not a restored status quo, getting back to “normal,” getting back to where we were before we sinned, evading the consequences of sin. The outcome of true repentance is new obedience, unprecedented obedience, perhaps unheard-of obedience. Newness of life.
[Repentance is] consciousness of spiritual poverty dethroning pride, a sense of personal unworthiness producing grief, a willingness to surrender to God in genuine humility, and a strong spiritual desire developing into hunger and thirst, enter into the experience of one who wholly abandons sin and heartily turns to Him who grants repentance unto life (Byron Dement).
Genuine repentance consists of more than outward sorrow and tears (2 Corinthians 7:9-11). Repentance will be considered genuine when the offender not only leaves his sin, but also confesses it to all who are affected by it (even to the general membership of the church if necessary, as determined by the elders), and makes restitution when appropriate (Jim Elliff and Daryl Wingerd).
Seeking mortification of sin just to quiet the soul and find relief from the torment of the conscience, all the while neglecting to deal with the root cause of sin, is a result of self-love. Men are diverted from coming to God this way. This is of the most common deception in which men ruin their souls. They seek to apply themselves to victory over the troubling sin but do not allow their conviction to lead them to the gospel. They perish in their “reformation”.
Godly sorrow springs from a view of a suffering Savior, and manifests itself by hatred of self, abhorrence of sin, groaning over our backslidings, grief of soul for being so often entangled by our lusts and passions, and is accompanied by softness, meltings of heart, flowings of love to the Redeemer, indignation against ourselves, and earnest desires never to sin more.
Sin forsaken is one of the best evidences of sin forgiven.
What is repentance? According to the Scriptures, three Greek words are transliterated “repentance.” I believe all three put together describe three truths necessary for complete repentance. The Greek word “Metanoeo” speaks of a spiritual change of the mind. Literally it means “to have another mind.” It implies a change of opinion with regard to sin and the recognition of sin against a holy God. We’ll call this the intellectual aspect. The second word, “Metamelomai,” speaks of personal grief or sorrow over sin as it has offended one’s heavenly Father. We’ll call this the emotional aspect. Finally, “Epistrepho,” speaks of a change in direction and transformation of the will. Evidence here is marked by an observable difference in conduct. We’ll call this the volitional aspect.
The Christian life is not to be characterized by the repeated cycle of sin-confess-sin-confess… Rather it should be sin-confess-repent-grow.
What is repentance? Repentance is understanding where we fall short of God’s expectations as they are revealed in the Bible and by God’s grace changing our mind, our heart and our actions to be more in line with God’s will. Repentance is making a complete break with sin (a “180”), and it it’s place, now the pursuit of righteousness. There is an ongoing repentance that all Christians do. That’s what it means to grow in Christlikeness. And there is a general repentance we do when we initially come to Christ as we turn from self and devote ourselves entirely to the lordship of Jesus Christ.
Repenting is neither more nor less than crying out to God in Christ, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” Believing is rejoicing in the faithfulness of His promise, that as we so repent, we go home justified. It is not the depth and power of your repentance that earns God’s favor. None of us repent as deeply as we ought, and so must ever repent for the weakness of our repentance. But Jesus came to save sinners.
Remember that the man who truly repents is never satisfied with his own repentance. We can no more repent perfectly than we can live perfectly. However pure our tears, there will always be some dirt in them; there will be something to be repented of even in our best repentance. But listen! To repent is to change your mind about sin, and Christ, and all the great things of God. There is sorrow implied in this; but the main point is the turning of the heart from sin to Christ. If there be this turning, you have the essence of true repentance, even though no alarm and no despair should ever cast their shadow upon your mind.
True repentance has a distinct and constant reference to the Lord, Jesus Christ. If you repent of sin without looking to Christ, away with your repentance! If you are so lamenting your sin as to forget the Savior, you have need to begin all this work over again. Whenever we repent of sin we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the Cross. Or, better still, let us have both eyes upon Christ, seeing our sin punished in Him and by no means let us look at sin except as we look at Jesus. A man may hate sin just as a murderer hates the gallows – but this does not prove repentance. If I hate sin because of the punishment, I have not repented of sin – I merely regret that God is just. But if I can see sin as an offense against Jesus Christ and loathe myself because I have wounded Him, then I have a true brokenness of heart. If I see the Savior and believe that those thorns upon His head were plaited by my sinful words; If I believe that those wounds in His heart were pierced by my heart sins; If I believe that those wounds in His feet were made by my wandering steps and that the wounds in His hands were made by my sinful deeds – then I repent of sin after a right fashion. Only under the Cross can you repent. Repentance elsewhere is remorse which clings to the sin and only dreads the punishment. Let us then seek, under God, to have a hatred of sin caused by a sight of Christ’s love.
What is repentance? 1. Recognition – [Repentance is] an awareness of having defied God by embracing what He despises and despising what He adores. 2. Remorse – Repentance is never a pleasure. It always entails pain. It demands brokenness of heart (Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15). [It is not] out of fear of reprisal, rather than from a hatred of sin. 3. Request – We must ask God for forgiveness and for strength. 4. Repudiation – We must repudiate all sins in question and take active, practical steps to avoid anything that might provoke stumbling. 5. Reformation – There must be an overt determination to pursue purity, to do what pleases God (1 Thes. 1:9).
If my heart is the source of my sin problem, then lasting change must always travel through the pathway of my heart. It is not enough to alter my behavior or to change my circumstances. Christ transforms people by radically changing their hearts. If the heart doesn’t change, the person’s words and behavior may change temporarily because of an external pressure or incentive. But when the pressure or incentive is removed, the change will disappear.
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of true sense of his sin [intellectual aspect], and appreciation of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of sin [emotional aspect], turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience [volitional aspect].
Every man, by his own natural will, hates God; but when he is turned to the Lord, by evangelical repentance, then his will is changed; then his conscience, now hardened and benumbed, shall be quickened and awakened; then his hard hearts shall be melted, and his unruly affections shall be crucified. Thus, by that repentance, the whole soul will be changed, and he will have new inclinations, new desires, and new habits.