rep enta nce

Most of us think we have a good idea of what repentance is. But, I want to take some time today to study repentance and to highlight the beauty of this gift we have received from God!

It is hard to be thankful for a gift when you have no understanding of the gift’s purpose. So, let’s take a good look at what God has given us.

The New Testament word for repentance means:

Changing one’s mind so that one’s views, values, goals, and ways are changed and one’s whole life is lived differently.

It is easy to confuse repentance with another human experience called “attrition”. Looking at the definition reveals the difference.

Attrition – remorse, self-reproach, and sorrow for sin generated by fear of punishment, without any wish or resolve to forsake sinning.

The difference between repentance and the act of attrition is found in the finished product. In both repentance and attrition, you will find some aspect of sorrow. But attrition, at best leads only to some type of outward change. It may lead to someone being more careful so they don’t get caught but it does not lead to a hatred of the behavior itself.

When a person repents, the change is radical. It involves change, both inwardly and outwardly; mind and judgment, will and affections, behavior and life-style, motives and purposes – all are involved.

Attrition is not sufficient for godly transformation because it allows the love for the sin to continue to live within us. Repentance means going in the opposite direction -to practice the virtues, motives, and behaviors most directly opposed to the sin.

One theologian said that repentance is a fruit of faith. I agree because by its purest definition repentance involves a change in how we think and how we respond. In essence, one cannot truly repent without having something to turn to. God provided His Son as a sacrifice for our sins; a way in which we can live differently than we do when dominated by a life of sin. The sacrifice of the Son of God allows an alternative to the dominance of sin and death. In its purest form, faith is part of the gift that God has given to us – opening the door to the gift of salvation.

Faith cannot operate without repentance. To trust in God, we must have a revelation that the road of sin is leading to death and then, we must change our mind regarding how we will live and receive the gift of salvation offered by God through His Son. The bridge between revelation and transformation is repentance!

The idea that there can be saving faith without repentance, and that one can be justified by embracing Christ as Savior while refusing Him as Lord is a destructive delusion. True faith acknowledges who God really is- Priest and King. True trust in Him as Savior will express itself in submission to Him as Lord also.

The culmination of all God’s gifts to mankind are summed up in the reality called “The Kingdom of Heaven”. To receive the Kingdom involves walking a pathway along which we come upon many gifts along the way. These gifts are not haphazardly placed on this pathway, but placed according to a priority necessary for the realization of the final product.

Repentance is the first gift we find as we walk the pathway.

Every true preacher of the gospel always points this gift out first to those seeking to walk the pathway to the Kingdom. In the Old Testament, the prophets pointed the gift out to Israel as they sought to return to the God from whom they had strayed. John the Baptist pointed the gift out as he prepared the way for the Savior. Jesus pointed it out as the first step to the Kingdom. The Twelve pointed it out to the Jews, Paul pointed it out to the Gentiles and the glorified Jesus pointed it out to the seven churches in the book of Revelation.

Impenitence is always the road to ruin. Repentance is always the path to remission of sins and the surety of God’s favor.

If you don’t see repentance as a gift, then think of what the world would be like without it! Even with Jesus’ sacrifice for mankind, without repentance there is no way to embrace it.

 Thank God for the gift of repentance! May repentance always be one of my closest friends!



Fastest Way to Change

If your relationships are not working, here’s a fast way to create change. Notice: this will first create change in you. The changes in you will be noticed by others and create a pathway for God to work in them. It removes you from being part of the problem and makes you part of the solution. It’s like the “rock in the pond”. You throw a rock into a pond. The rock enters at just one point, but the ripple effect is felt all throughout the pond. Let God change you through submission to Him and the ripple effect will be felt by everyone around you. While I can guarantee that everyone will notice and have to respond to the changes in you, I cannot guarantee that everyone will change for the better. But, this is the fastest way to find out what is going to happen in your relationships and the quickest and surest way to your peace.

Submission to God requires:

Humility: I agree with God’s assessment of who I am.

Repentance: I turn away from lies, attitudes, actions, and outlooks that do not reflect God’s Word.

Release: I release my relationships to the power and authority of God. I stop trying to change others and I stop judging them.

Obedience: I put all my energies into seeing myself become a Spirit walking, Word obeying, child of God.

No Rationalizing or Denying: I give up denying my sinful behavior or rationalizing my sins because of what others have done to me or because of bad circumstances.

If you use this as another manipulation technique to get others to do what you want, this will fail. But, if you do it because it is the right thing to do for you, then you have a chance to see God restore you and everything around you!


I like “great experience” as much as the next person. It is always wonderful when a great “epiphany” moment occurs in life and you leap forward in your growth and knowledge as a person. Epiphanies are often used to bring us to a point of change… experience that not only is “felt” but changes the way we think and live in a fundamental way.

As a fellow passenger and observer in life, I’ve also seen people begin to chase transformation through experience. What I mean is this: some people go from one place to another seeking an experience that will provide a fundamental transformation needed to make life better. You’ve seen it – going from one meeting to the next, endless listening to and reading the latest “revelation”……….all in an attempt to bring about an experience that will cause life to change.

Romans 12:1-2 describes the transformation process:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

There are a couple of things that I would like to point out about transformation in this verse:

  1. Transformation comes through total submission to Christ. Many people don’t trust God enough to present their lives as a sacrifice. But the scripture says that because of God’s mercies, we can give ourselves to Him. He will deal with us out of His love and desire for what is best for us. But, to see true transformation, we must be willing to have our understanding adjusted. Due to control issues and a lack of trust in anyone, this is the point at which many stumble.
  2. Transformation comes through a process called “the renewal of the mind”. This means that your mind is taken, in its current state, and it is changed through the process of the confrontation of lies and the establishment of truth. Notice the word “process”. An epiphany will occur now and then during this process but they usually don’t happen through our continuous struggle but through our submission to the place and process of God.

I’m a believer in transformation through discipleship. I believe that if I put down roots in the place that God tells me to and if I seek Him daily with all my heart; reading His word and spending time with Him, transformation will occur in my life without me seeking it through experience. In this scenario, my life becomes an “experience” of transformation through living day by day with an exceptional Christ.

People who seek transformation through experience often remind me of a potted plant rather than a planted tree. Potted plants are moved from one “hot spot” to another in an effort to see them grow, yet their potential for growth is inherently limited due to the fact that they are not planted. You grow best if you are planted, enduring the seasons with grace and humility.

Psalm 1 describes this type of transformation:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

Get into the place that God has for you and put down roots and begin to grow. No farmer plants a seed on Saturday and goes out Sunday and is disappointed because they see no growth. Growth is a process that happens through nurture and resistance.

Potted plants have limited potential but a tree planted by living water will provide shade for generations!