Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 9, 1964
NUMBER 48, PAGE 5,13b


E. L. Flannery

Repentance is defined as a change of mind or of one's purpose involving a change for the better. Brother H. Leo Boles used to say that repentance was "a change of mind, disposition, governing purpose." Repentance produces a change in mind, heart, will and conduct of life. There are at least seven aspects of genuine repentance:

Conviction: a being convinced of one's sins. Peter preached on Pentecost to those who had put to death God's son, and he convinced them of their guilt. "Now when they heard this they were pricked in the heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) This is the first aspect of genuine repentance — conviction that one is a sinner!

Contrition: a sorrow for having sinned! "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Cor. 7:10) Godly sorrow — "according to God" — relates the sin and the sorrow for it to God and one's relationship to Him. There is a worldly sorrow, a grief felt at having been apprehended in wrong-doing; a shame of having been discovered in wrong doing. The type of sorrow that relates to genuine, Bible repentance is godly sorrow, not worldly sorrow. The sinner must be grief-stricken that he has sinned against God. He may well be ashamed that his sins have become publicly known, but his sorrow must go deeper than that to work repentance.

Confession: to admit one's guilt. Few have been the men to forth-rightly confess, "I have sinned!" Yet James admonished, "Confess your faults (sins) one to another, and pray one for another...." (Jas. 5:16) And John wrote, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:8-9) That wonderful Psalm (51) is on outpouring of a contrite heart, confessing its sinfulness! "For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest and clear when thou judgest." (Psa. 51:3-4) Although many of the passages refer to the erring, penitent child of God, they set forth the principle of all seeing and admitting their sinfulness, hence their need of a Savior. The alien sinner must be convicted he is a sinner, that his sins are against God, and admit this fact to himself, to others, and to God.

Renunciation: to renounce; to disown. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:7) Paul said, "We faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty...." (2 Cor. 4:1, 2) The eunuch from Ethiopia had to renounce his former religion to accept the Christ. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" (Rom. 6:1,2)

Restitution: again to set in order. "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord, Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor: and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold." (Luke 19:8) One filled with a godly sorrow would surely desire to right his wrong where it is possible to do so. We emphasize where it is possible to do so, for some sins are of such nature restitution is impossible (as the sin of murder). But where restitution is possible genuine, Bible repentance demands it. The practice of restitution is most wholesome in its effect upon one's character. Having to face the person we have wronged, confess the wrong, and seek forgiveness for the wrong will strengthen one against the temptation to repeat the same sin. The auricular confession (telling a priest of the sins one has committed instead of confessing one's sin to the one he has wronged) deteriorates character. An early lesson this writer was taught by his mother had to do with restitution: my cousin and I had killed a neighbor's hen. My mother dressed the hen, and made me return the hen to the neighbor and apologize for having killed her chicken. I was nine years old, that was forty-one years ago, but I have never been tempted to kill a neighbor's hen from that day to this! Any amount of rebuke for the deed, followed by a chicken dinner, would not have taught me what the act of restitution did.

Reformation: making straight; bringing right again. "Nevertheless, the foundation of the Lord standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (2 Tim. 2:19) John the Baptizer called on those claiming to have repented to "bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." (Matt. 3:8) Paul catalogues many types of sin, and states, "And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." (1 Cor. 6:11) He calls for right living henceforth.

Transformation: (Metamorphis) fashion anew. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17) The transformed man has a new heart, a new mind, a new will, and new actions or behaviour. He is indeed, a new creature. "Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Rom. 12:2) It is impossible to transform one's life from conformity to the world until the mind is renewed. The reading and accepting of the New Testament, the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) enables one to renew his own mind.

Genuine Bible repentance has several aspects — conviction, contrition, confession, renunciation, restitution, reformation and transformation. Repentance transforms the believer's mind, will and actions. The sinner ceases to live as he did, for he has repented. But the heavy clouds of past sins hover over him. Here God provided an act of faith that will remove the guilt of these past sins — baptism! Baptism remits the past sins (Acts 2:38), puts the forgiven sinner in a new relationship with God, he now becomes a child of God. (Gal. 3:26,27)

Reader, repentance is essential to your salvation. "I tell you, Nay; but except you repent, ye shall all likewise perish," said the Lord! (Luke 13:3) But God is "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9) Are you willing to perish? Eternally? Why not let the goodness of God lead you to repentance? (Rom. 2:4)

— 1503 N. E. 12th Street, Gainesville, Florida