Good Definitions of Repentance

Again, as part of our research in putting together our newest resource, The 180º Project, we have found some good thoughts concerning biblical repentance. Some of these we share below. While not all of these will make it into our final book, all of them are worthy of contemplation. If you run across any that you would like to share with us, please email them to us at taethne@outlook.com.  Please enjoy”

[Repentance] is not a merely intellectual change of mind or mere grief, still less doing penance, but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which result in (spiritual) fruit. — D.A. Carson

Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as king in self’s place. — J.I. Packer

Remorse precedes true repentance. Changed behavior follows true repentance. But this necessary prelude and postlude of true repentance are not themselves the essence of repentance. True repentance is a denial that anything in us ever would or ever could satisfy God’s holiness or compel His pardon. We humbly concede that we can offer nothing for what He alone can give. Then we rest in His promise to forgive those who humbly seek Him… Repentance, therefore, is fundamentally a humble expression of a desire for a renewed relationship with God – a relationship that we confess can be secured only by His grace. — Bryan Chapell

Our Lord’s idea of repentance is as profound and comprehensive as His conception of righteousness. Of the three words that are used in the Greek Gospels to describe the process, one emphasizes the emotional element of regret, sorrow over the past evil course of life, metamelomaiMatt. 12:29-32; a second expresses reversal of the entire mental attitude, metanoeoMatt. 12:41, Luke 11:32; 15:7, 10; the third denotes a change in the direction of life, one goal being substituted for another, epistrephomaiMatt. 13:15 (and parallels); Luke 17;4, 22:32. Repentance is not limited to any single faculty of the mind: it engages the entire man, intellect, will and affections… Again, in the new life which follows repentance the absolute supremacy of God is the controlling principle. He who repents turns away from the service of mammon and self to the service of God. —Geerhardus Vos

It is one thing to love sin and to force ourselves to quit it; it is another thing to hate sin because love for God is so gripping that the sin no longer appeals. The latter is repentance; the former is reform. It is repentance that God requires. Repentance is “a change of mind.” To love and yet quit it is not the same as hating it and quitting it. Your supposed victory over a sin may be simple displacement. You may love one sin so much (such as your pride) that you will curtail another more embarrassing sin which you also love. This may look spiritual, but there is nothing of God in it. Natural men do it every day. —Jim Elliff

Where Are You At?

Sounds like a funny title to a blog, doesn’t it? What do you mean, where am I at? Spiritually, emotionally, where are you right now? Let me give you a story to illustrate.

Imagine a day at the beach. The sun is shining, a cool off-shore breeze is blowing. Families are having fun. Suddenly, there’s a scream, “Help me! I’m drowning!” Waves of panic engulf the beach. The once-quiet sunbathers point wildly at a figure just beyond the breaking surf. A lifeguard races down the beach and swims toward the sinking person. Thrashing furiously, pair of hands suddenly reappears out of the deep. The drowning person is in an intense struggle between life and death.

Now let me ask you, do you identify with the drowning person, the trained lifeguard, or the powerless spectators? You are in at least one of those categories. Let me help you understand.

Right now, you may be overwhelmed by sorrow and you may be grasping, like a drowning person, for the answers to a multitude of “why” questions. Perhaps you are more like  the spectators, you are feeling grossly inadequate  as you try to assist a friend who is hurting. You may identify with the lifeguard, you have tried to help so many people and you are worn out, both from rescuing some and from the devastation at not being able to help others.

It is important to realize that in each of these states of mind, the answer is the same. We have to learn to lean on Jesus. Only He can save everyone. Only He has the answers to life’s questions. Only He can take broken, useless lives and make them whole again. Remember the old nursery rhyme?

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the kings’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again

Thanks be to God that Jesus specializes in putting broken things back together. What we cannot do, He can. Not only can He put shattered lives back together, He can make them stronger and more beautiful than they were before. Give Him the pieces of your life today and watch what He can do with it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Repentance, Replacement and Ministry

In repentance, a person is not only moved by godly sorrow over actions that offend and displease God to confess them, asking forgiveness, but to also turn from those sins. The New Testament talks about replacing those ungodly actions with their godly opposites. Beyond that, though, the New Testament command us to begin ministering in Jesus’ name in that same area. For example, Paul tells those who are guilty of stealing to not only stop stealing but to work for what they want. Then he goes further and commands them to work until they have an overabundance so that they can share with others who are in need. In another example, we are told to let no unwholesome or ungodly, corrupt speech come from our mouth. Then we are told to replace it with what it is good, giving praise and glory to God. Beyond replacing bad speech with good, we are told to use our speech to edify or build up our fellow believers.

This is the essence of true repentance. Merely feeling sorry and confessing isn’t repentance. Neither is simply replacing the bad with good. It is going beyond and changing habits, starting new ones that advance the cause of Christ that show repentance has taken place. When that occurs we get off the merry-go-round of confessing, crying, promising to do better and spending next week confessing, crying and promising the same old things. We are now doing something positive for God’s Kingdom, ministering to others, changing our lifestyle to reflect that of Christ.

How repentant of your sins are you?