What Is Repentance?

John the Baptist came preaching the gospel of the kingdom telling everyone to repent (Matthew 3:2). Jesus later came preaching the same message of repentance (Matthew 4:17). Jesus would one day say that if we don’t repent we won’t be saved (Luke 13:3). After Peter preached Jesus to the people on the day of Pentecost the people asked what they must do and Peter told them to REPENT and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). Clearly we are called to repent of our sins.

But what does that mean? What does it mean to repent? What does it look like? How do we do it? When defined repentance means to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about your sins. But it is more than just the emotions of regret. It is about changing. It is not doing those sins anymore. It is living a different life. A righteous life.

Look at how John the Baptist explained repentance to the people when they asked him what they were suppose to do in Luke 3:10-14, “And the crowds asked him, ‘What then shall we do?’ And he answered them, ‘Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.’ Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, ‘Teacher, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Collect no more than you are authorized to do.’ Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what shall we do?’ And he said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.'” He showed them the practical, real application of how repentance works. It is about really changing your ways, behaviors, and actions. Changing your way of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Paul also gives practical application of repentance in Ephesians 4:17-32 when he talks about putting off the old man and putting on the new man and what that looks like:

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Repentance is easy to understand. Stop sinning and start doing what is right in the eyes of God. Stop the bad. Do the good. Stop lying and tell the truth. Stop cussing and use appropriate language. Stop stealing and get a job. Stop committing sexual immorality and keep yourself pure. Stop gossiping and keep your mouth shut. And so on.

If we will repent of our sins and stop living in sin then we will be saved. We cannot keep on sinning if we are going to live for God and hope to go to Heaven. We have to stop sinning and live the righteous life God has called us to live. It will be hard at times but it is so worth it. Heaven is worth it all! Repent before it’s too late. Live for the Lord. Be righteous. Be saved. Be God’s.


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