Repentance refers to a spiritual turning away from sin. Repentance means much, much more than saying, “I’m sorry,” and to genuinely repent, you have to understand what the concept really means and have the motivation to change.
In Mark 1:14–15, Jesus proclaims to all those who are present, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” In Luke 13:3, Jesus says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Christ then repeats this statement in Luke 13:5. The repetition is a literary device used to emphasize something important. The Lord was trying to draw our attention by italicizing, underlining, and circling the fact that unrepentance leads to death. Furthermore, in Matthew 3:2, Christ says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and then in 3:8, says, “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
In Acts 3:19, the apostle Peter says, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” In fact, Peter also writes in II Peter 3:9 that repentance is so important that in His dispositional will, God wants everyone to come to repentance: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Clearly, repentance is a crucial idea, but what does it really mean? Does repentance simply refer to saying, “I’m sorry?” or does it signify something deeper? Can anyone just repent, or do we have to have a relationship with God for it to be effective? What does repentance have to do with faith? Why does repentance seem so hard? Is repentance not really repentance if you go back and do what you repented of in the first place? Is repentance a lifelong process, or is it a one-time event?
This lesson will answer these questions and more.
What is repentance?
In Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem defined repentance as “a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake and walk in obedience to Christ.”
Our English word repentance is derived from the Greek word metanoeō, meaning to think differently; to reconsider or to change one’s mind for the better; to feel a moral compulsion or to have a sense of regret or remorse over a prior behavior. Repentance involves a mental awareness that something wrong was done, and that awareness is intimately connected to deep …
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal
 Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), 713.
 See Genesis 37:34; II Samuel 3:31; I Kings 21:27; II Kings 6:30; Job 16:15, 42:6; Lamentations 2:10; Isaiah 15:3; Joel 1:13; Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13
 Isaiah 43:18-19; II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 3:9-10
 Deuteronomy 4:39–40; Psalm 119:30, 60; Luke 6:46; John 14:45; I John 5:3, 5:8; I Peter 1:14.
 Romans 12:2; II Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:10; Ephesians 4:20–24.
 James 2:19.
 II Corinthians 7:9–11.