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Question and Answer ~ What Is Repentance?

I was sent a question this week that just melted my heart and made me feel such compassion for the one who asked. The question was, “How can you let Jesus know that you are really sorry?

Repentance is the first step to a new relationship with God and it is the the step that restores a broken relationship between a Christian and God. I don’t particularly like breaking down this precious experience into “Steps” but it really is comprised of a series of events that happen in order.  It might be helpful to know what these steps are so that you can be assured that God really has forgiven you of your sins.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of the English language defines repentance as, “Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life.”

Its interesting to note that repentance is a gift from God. In Acts 11:18 and 2 Timothy 2:25 repentance is called a gift from God. So if you feel weak or feel like you are not able to repent sufficiently, these verses should give you hope and strength. God walks with you and helps you even when you are repenting!

Acts 26:20
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

Acts 20:21
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.

Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

……. So then, repentance is deep sorrow for our actions accompanied by a change in lifestyle.

The first step in repentance is the action of God, the Holy Spirit, on our conscience to cause us to feel sorrowful and ashamed of our sin. Then, our hearts must yield to the influence of the Holy Spirit.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

The second step of repentance is sorrow for our sins. 2 Corinthians 7: 9-10 tells us that …As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

The kind of sorrow we have when it is God who is convicting us of sin is godly sorrow and it leads to repentance. “It includes an honest, a contrite spirit, a frank recognition of the sins committed, and a firm determination to sin no more. Worldly sorrow is not the a sorrow for the sin but that of being caught. When one has this type of sorrow s/he feels self-pity and helplessness” (Ludlow, 1992).

The third step to repentance is one where we confess our sin and renounce them. This step includes admission of the sin and remorse for it, complete separation from the sin and the taking of steps to live in a righteous way.
Most of the time it is only necessary to admit our sins to God alone. Sometimes though it is essential that we admit our sins to people we have wronged. 1 John 1:9 says that …. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins.

If you have wronged other people with your sin, then you must reconcile with those people. Any restitution that needs to be made should be made. This is an essential part of repentance.

The last step, like the first one, is performed by God alone. When you have repented, God forgives you. He promises in His Word that He is faithful to forgive when we repent.

When you repent with godly sorrow, you are forgiven. God promises us that we are forgiven and that He will not remember our sins.

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:12

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isaiah 43:25

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:17

For I will be merciful to their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.
Hebrews 8:12

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7

If you are seeking a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the next step would be to believe that Jesus is the only Son of God and that God sent Him into the world to save people from the wrath of God and to confess with your mouth your belief.

If you need more help with this or someone to pray with you, you can email me at sylvia  at christianhomekeeper dot com, replacing the words with the appropriate symbols.


  1. Rosa Paulucci Machado

    It is a very beautiful explanation about repentance. Thank you, Mrs Sylvia!

    • Sylvia

      Thank you Rosa 😀