Repentance is defined as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.” Repentance is a choice that believers make to apologize for the sins that we have made, and ask God's forgiveness and aid in turning away from future sin. What does the Bible say about repentance? Is it necessary to have a repentant to be a Christian? Let us see what God Himself breathed into the living Word.
What is repentance?
It might be easier to start off by understanding what repentance isn't. First, repentance is not an acceptance of punishment for a wrongdoing. The voluntary suffering of punishment for sin and does not necessarily involve a change of character or conduct. People who willingly go to jail are doing penance, but this act does not mean that their guilt has been forgiven because they may not have learned anything from their actions.
Second, repentance is not remorse. Judas was remorseful over his sin of betrayal of the Son of God, but his lack of regret led to suicide instead of to God, because remorse is not true repentance. Third, repentance is not self-condemnation. You may hate yourself for your sinfulness, but self-condemnation only opens wider the wounds of guilt and despair. We should hate our sins, not ourselves.
The Bible says, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). There are three elements in genuine repentance. First, there is conviction. You must know what is right before you can know what is wrong.
The second element of true repentance is contrition. The Bible says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Contrition, or “godly sorrow,” as it is called in 2 Corinthians 7:10, is not a shallow sentiment nor empty emotion. It is a sincere regret over past sins and an deep desire to walk in a new path of righteousness.
Third, repentance carries with it the idea of growth through change: changing your mind, changing your attitude, and changing your ways. If we are truly repentant, our will is brought into action and we will make a reversal of direction. God, seeing that we are in earnest, gives us the gift of eternal life.
Is repentance necessary?
Ezekiel 18:21-22 says “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live.” These are God's own word spoken to Ezekiel.
We have such a great God that will forgive us for all of our past sins, as long as we repent. We don't have to do any acts of service to get back into God's good favor. We only have to admit our wrongdoings. It is only that we acknowledge that we have done wrong and apologize to God and ask forgiveness of Him. We have assurance that we will live eternally with our Father in heaven when we embrace a repentant heart. It's necessary if we want to live with our Father in Heaven once we pass.
In order to please God, we must learn how to repent of sin and change how we think. To do this we must recognize the superiority of God’s mind, acknowledge personal guilt, live by God’s Word and turn from our thoughts and ways.
Are any sins not forgivable, even if we repent?
There is one sin that is not forgivable called the “unpardonable sin” or “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”. This can be found in Matthew 12:31-32, as it says, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” Do not panic if you think you committed this sin. Chances are, if you are worried it means you haven't. A person who has committed this sin will never feel God drawing them to Him. A person who has committed this sin will grow in rebellion towards God.
Repentance is a must in every believer’s life. Repentance is our way of apologizing and saying, “I’m sorry,” to our merciful and gracious Father in heaven. The Bible is a great guidebook on learning what repentance truly means, and how we should go about asking for it. God knows what’s in our hearts and will see that we are genuinely sorry for turning our backs on Him.