Repentance Involves Far More Than Saying Sorry
What Is Repentance?
A correct understanding of “repentance” is absolutely fundamental to a healthy relationship with the Almighty God of the Bible (Jehovah El Shaddai). A free and open relationship between God and Mankind is at the core of the Christian Gospel – the Good News that God loves ALL mankind and sincerely desires a relationship with everyone of us!
It is true that “repentance” is most often triggered by sorrow over a specific sin or series of sins that an individual feels guilt over, or conviction because of what he or she has committed. “Repentance” is then often presented as – expressing sincere contrition or regret for past wrongs, asking God’s forgiveness for those words, attitudes and actions and a commitment to personal change with the resolve to live a more responsible and humane life.
Since this version of "repentance" is totally and completely dependant upon the efforts of the individual, sadly it is - 1. bound to fail and 2. never deals with the root of the problem.
Biblical ‘repentance’ however involves far more than simply “saying sorry”. When Peter urged the people in Jerusalem to “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) he was was not simply telling them to “say sorry” and promise to “do better”!
Notice that Peter said “Repent and be Baptized”.
Repent = “A complete change of mind (new attitude) that involves a 180 degree change in direction of one’s life – AWAY from sin and TOWARD God”.
Baptized = “To submerge the old man [i.e. bury one’s old life] and be raised to a new life IN Christ”.
Isaiah 59 :: NIV. Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood.
These divinely inspired words, spoken on the Day of Pentecost, the annual holy day that became the “birthday” of the New Testament church, illustrates how that true repentance before God along with accepting His payment for ones sin is what results in the complete turnaround of a life; “salvation”, relationship with God and the opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit.
How To Repent
1. Be honest about your need for repentance.
Repentance requires honesty. No one comes to God with true repentance in their heart unless they’ve first acknowledged their need for forgiveness and reconciliation with him.
2. Acknowledge the danger of sin and damage of guilt.
We must honestly assess the consequences of our sin, which means assessing both personal consequences and the impact it has had—and will continue to have—on others.
3. Confess fully.
Deep repentance demands full confession.
4. Hide in God.
If you want to change, to really change—which, by the way, is the mark of true repentance—then you must hide in God alone.
5. Seize the hope.
How can you be sure God will forgive you? His unfailing love. Recall and find assurance in the great promises he has made throughout history, and how they have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
All throughout history—right on up to the moment when you’re repenting—God has been saying, and continues to say, “I love you. I will not fail you. I am enough.”
Look to the promises of God, seize the hope, and “be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11).
Just as you would with other people, after saying you are sorry you must ask to be forgiven. There is no special prayer you have to pray to earn forgiveness from God. All you have to do is ask him to forgive you, through Jesus Christ, and believe that he will forgive you.