Importance Of Repentance
The Message of Repentance in the Old Testament
At the time of the fall
From God’s questioning of Adam and Eve, a naive
confession of their transgression and repentance was expected (Gen 3:11).
But Adam laid all the blame upon Eve, likewise, Eve laid blame upon the serpent. Both Adam
and Eve pleaded extenuating circumstances for their sins, but they did so
without a sincere repentance (Gen 3:12–13).
In the end, the Bible states that Adam only
tried to cover his transgression (Job 31:33).
In the days of Noah
The earth was full of violence and wickedness
(Gen 6:5, 11–12).
God commanded Noah to build an ark and preach
righteousness, warning a wicked generation of a global flood. Noah’s warning
was a gracious endeavor manifesting God’s kindness to Noah’s generation, for
the Lord hoped they could repent and live (2 Pet 2:5).
While God’s mercy was given, no one took up
God’s grace or repented. As a result, no one survived the deluge except Noah’s
household (Gen 6:3; 7:21).
Sodom and Gomorrah
The sins of Sodom
were extremely serious in God’s eyes (Gen 18:20, 19:13).
God sent two angels to save the God-fearing
people (Gen 19:12–14).
Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed
because they sinned yet failed to repent (Gen 19:23–25; 2 Pet 2:6–8; Jude 7).
The wickedness of the city of Nineveh came up before God (Jon 1:1–2).
God gave warnings and instructions, through
Jonah, that in forty days Nineveh
would be destroyed. During this interval, God expected the people of Nineveh to repent (Jon
Happily, the people of Nineveh sincerely repented and God graciously
took away the sentence of destruction he passed upon them (Mt 12:41; Jon
The Faithless Israelites
When the Israelites transgressed God’s law, God
often sent prophets to warn and instruct them. God sent these messengers in the
hope that they might repent and return to God’s ways (Jer 8:6, 17:27, 26:12–13;
Ezek 14:6, 18:30–32).
But the Israelites were stiff-necked, and they
did not turn away from their iniquity. The unfortunate result of their
faithlessness was that most of them were killed or captured (2 Chr 36:11–20).
The Bible says, “Be not like your fathers, to
whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from
your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or heed me,
says the LORD” (Zech 1:4).
The Message of Repentance in the New Testament
John the baptist urged the people to repent
John the baptist said, “Repent, for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3:2, 8, 11).
Many came to John the baptist, confessing their
sins (Mt 3:5–6; Mk 1:5).
John the baptist preached a baptism of
repentance (Acts 13:24, 19:4).
The Lord Jesus stressed repentance
In Jesus’ ministry on earth, he told people to
repent; even after his ascension, Jesus urged the church to repent (Mt 4:17;
Rev 2:5, 16, 21, 3:3, 19).
Jesus said, “There is joy before the angels of
God over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15:7, 10).
Jesus once said, “Unless you repent you will
likewise perish” (Lk 13:1–5).
The apostles emphasized repentance
On the day of Pentecost, Peter instructed the
people, who asked what to do, to first repent (Acts 2:38).
In his ministry, Paul urged the people to repent
(Acts 17:30, 26:20).
The forbearance and long-suffering of God are
the riches of God’s goodness through which he hopes to lead the sinners to
repentance (Acts 17:30; Rom 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9).
The Meaning Of Repentance
Consciousness of Sins Committed
To be conscious of your own sins and be
determined to correct yourself can be considered the starting point of
repentance (1 Kgs 8:47; Lk 10:13).
A self-righteous person can never learn
repentance, for he or she will always feel self-satisfied (Jer 2:35; Lk
We should realize that no one is perfect in the
presence of God (Eccl 7:20; Jas 3:2).
Sorrow over Our Sins
In our sorrowing for our sins, we indicate our
awareness of our transgressions and weaknesses (Ps 38:18; Joel 2:12–13; Lk
Godly grief produces a repentance without regret
(Lk 22:32, 61–62; 2 Cor 7:9–10).
God will not despise a broken and contrite heart
(Ps 51:17; Isa 57:15, 66:2).
Confession of Sins and Asking for Forgiveness
We must acknowledge our sins before God and ask
for forgiveness when we repent (Lev 26:40; Num 14:39–40; Ps 32:5).
Confessing our sins to one another and prayer
for one another play an important role in repentance (Mt 5:23–24; Acts 19:18;
Those who cover their sins shall not prosper
(Prov 28:13; Acts 5:1–10).
Returning to God
In repentance we must cast away all our idols
and evil doings. We must return to God with all our heart and serve him alone
(1 Sam 7:3; Acts 26:20; 1 Thess 1:9).
Humble yourself and submit to God’s commandments
(2 Chr 32:26, 33:10–13; Acts 2:38, 41).
If we confess our sins with our lips but our heart
does not return to God, we have not truly repented (Ex 9:27; 1 Sam 15:24).
Hate Evil and Keep Yourself from Wickedness
When we repent, we hate evil (Job 42:6; Ps
97:10; Amos 5:15).
Forsake evil doings in repentance (2 Chr 7:14;
Isa 55:7; Jon 3:8–10).
Abstain from every form of evil (Ps 19:13,
34:13–14; 1 Thess 5:22).
Yield Fruits of Goodness
Perform deeds worthy of repentance (Mt 3:18;
Compensate those you have trespassed against
(Num 5:5–7; Lk 19:8).
Bring forth the good fruit of “fearing God and
loving man” (Lk 3:11, 7:37–38, 19:8).
The Effects Of Repentance
Sins Are Forgiven
In the New Testament the remission of sins is
worked out in this way: believe, repent, be baptized in the name of Jesus, and
pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 6:11; 1 Pet
‑Sins (not including mortal sins) that we have
committed after putting on Christ can only be pardoned by sincere repentance
(Jas 5:15–16; 1 Jn 1:9, 5:16–17).
Repentance is a necessary step for the remission
of our sins (2 Chr 7:14; Ps 32:5; Lk 7:37–38, 47).
God’s Wrath Is Removed
God will withdraw his punishments if we only
repent and turn to him (Joel 2:12–13).
King Hezekiah and the people humbled themselves
in order that the wrath of God would not come upon them (2 Chr 32:26).
The destruction of the city Nineveh was averted because the people
repented (Jon 3:8–10; Mt 12:41).
God’s Providential Care Follows Repentance
If we return to God with all our heart, put away
our evil ways, and serve him alone, God will deliver us out of the hand of our
enemy (1 Sam 7:3).
Salvation came to Zacchaeus because he truly
repented (Lk 19:8–9).
Any church will not progress if she does not
truly repent (Rev 2:5, 3:19).
Causes Of Repentance
Enlightenment by the Truth
In the time of Nehemiah, the Israelites repented
upon hearing God’s word. Consequently, the Israelites revived their faith (Neh
repented upon hearing Jonah preach God’s word (Jon
The word of God is sharper than any two-edged
sword, “piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and
discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Thus, God’s word allows
us to be more conscious of our sins (Acts 2:37; 1 Cor 14:24–25; Heb 4:12).
Repentance Caused by Witnessing Miracles
People repented upon seeing God’s mighty work
through Elijah, when he was on Mount Carmel (1
Kgs 18:21–23, 37–39).
Jesus once remarked that the people should have
repented when they saw his miracles (Mt 11:20–24).
It was through miraculous events that Jesus
Christ called Paul to repentance (Acts 9:1–9; 1 Tim 1:13–16).
Repentance Caused by the Lord’s Chastisement
Plague or calamity is one way in which God’s
chastisement is manifested to invoke repentance (1 Kgs 8:46–50; Rev 9:20–21,
At the time of the Judges, Israel called upon the Lord for
help in their oppression from surrounding enemies (Judg 3:7–9, 12–15, 4:1–3,
We should always consider in the day of our
adversity (Eccl 7:14; Rev 2:5).
Repentance Urged On by the Grace of God
A contrite heart of repentance is given by God
(Acts 5:31, 11:18).
The Holy Spirit will “convince the world
concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn 16:8).
We should pray to God to let us understand our
faults and to return to him constantly when we stray (1 Kgs 18:37; Ps 19:12;
Jer 31:18; 2 Tim 2:25).