The Importance of Repentance
by Keith Hassell | August 9, 2010
Matthew 3:1–3 (NKJV) “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.”’”
Repentance is the first word of the Gospel (Mark 1:14-15). Repentance is also the beginning of true revival. Repentance is often stereo-typed as self-punishment including wearing sackcloth while sitting in ashes. However, repentance is not self-punishment. Neither is it regret (2 Corinthians 7:10-11) which is a feeling of remorse due to the consequences of our wrong actions. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia (Strong's #3341). Meta means "change" and noia means "mind". Therefore repentance means a change in mind. Changing our mind means giving up our own thoughts about life, future, career, ethics, purity, physical pleasure, worth, money, riches, marriage, family, and a host of other things that are inconsistent with the will and nature of God. Repentance is not only turning away from sinful behavior but also from the thoughts and attitudes that generate sinful behavior. Repentance begins with humility--letting go of our pride that sets us up in our own mind as lawgiver, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner so that we might realize that in reality we ourselves are lawbreakers, charged, judged, sentenced, and condemned as sinners. Repentance pleads the mercy of God in absolute submission to Christ’s Lordship as evidenced by a transformation in attitude and behavior in keeping His law. Repentance brings about a radical transformation in our life through the renewing of our mind to the Word of God on every matter and issue of life (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5). Repentance is living life from God's eternal perspective rather than from our own self-centered and temporal perspective. Repentance lives in the humility of continual self-evaluation, self-discipline, and self-judgment to turn back from any tendency to drift from God's standard (1 Corinthians 11:31). But even in this, the truly repentant believer does not accept or trust self-evaluation alone (Jeremiah 17:9). Repentant believers also submit their lives to the loving and caring evaluation of other godly believers in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21) and, most importantly, to the evaluation of God Himself (Psalm 139:22-24; 1 Corinthians 4:4). Therefore repentance requires a complete surrender of self to God. True repentance is not only essential to the new birth (Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21), but its reality is evidenced by a daily lifestyle consistent with repentance (Luke 3:7-14; Acts 26:20). When repentance comes to the lost, they are saved. When repentance comes to backslidden believers, they are revived. Without repentance, the new birth and Christian growth is impossible. Without repentance, revival is only a dream.