Repentance involves change

Published 8:42 am Friday, September 7, 2018

Question: What is the importance and procedure of repentance?
There was a prevailing belief among many of Jesus’ day that misfortune was caused by the sinfulness of the individuals who were affected by such calamities. Luke wrote, “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” Luke 13:1-5 KJV. In this statement of Jesus, He denies such teachings and yet warns his audience to repent of sins. There was a far greater calamity that awaited those who refused to repent than that of a physical nature. This alone shows us the need to repent. The Word of God throughout its pages, warns men to repent of sin (Luke 13:3; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30-31). Since repentance is of necessity we should all be aware of how to scripturally repent. Repentance is and always has been a mental procedure. From the Greek language we see that repentance is literally, a change of mind that is manifested in a change of actions. The process involves a change for the better in which the penitent strives to amend their lives with a disgust of their past sin. This amended lifestyle will result in fruits of life that will be evident in the life of such an individual. But how does one scripturally repent of sin?
The first step in a true repentance involves our realization that our present sinful life leads to certain physical distress and eternal destruction. This was the thought that Jesus was seeking to get across, Luke 13:3-5. Jeremiah teaches that the way of man is not in himself (Jer. 10:23). If we then live according to our own design we stand in condemnation. There is a system of conduct that the Bible teaches and when we breach that system we separate ourselves from God (Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23). With the danger of condemnation in his mind, Paul told the Corinthians that true repentance involved Godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10). Certainly one can feel sorrow for a transgression, the proper sorrow is one that leads to a change of course in our daily living.
It is one thing to see the need to repent but it is an entirely different thing to know how to react to sins in a way that pleases God. We learn the proper course for living in an acceptable way through God’s Word. Upon being convicted of their sins, those on the Day of Pentecost asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Saul, who would later be the Apostle Paul, asked, “What wilt thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6). Many who began to live their lives according to the code of the New Testament soon forget and need to be reminded of their initial commitment to God. This was the message to the churches of Asia in (Rev. 2:5). All this seems to re-enforce the need we have to study and know the Word of God. Paul said, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25 KJV). See also (Col. 3:16; 2 Pet. 3:18).
When through proper study an individual recognizes their need to change their life, they then must determine to do so. It is at this point in life that proper repentance can be realized. When we see a need to change the direction of our lives and we do it through resolve we are experiencing Biblical repentance. It is then the new man is manifested in a way that enables us to serve God properly (Ephesians 4). Paul said, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
We must resolve to follow the course for living found in the scripture. When properly followed we avoid the pitfalls of condemnation coupled with proper Christian fruits. The actions of Zacchaeus in Luke 9 are a good example of one who seeks to repent. In this case proper restitution was made. Zacchaeus was willing to make a difference; he was willing to change. What about us? Will we do the same?
(Tony Hoss is minister at Centerview Church of Christ. He can be contacted at 737-2287 or by email at:

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