6 Principles for Repentance

Dr. Ron AllchinFor Those Giving Help3 Comments


Repentance. This idea behind this word can bring on a cold sweat on a hot summer day.

It suggests wrongdoing, apologies, forgiveness, and change.

In the New Testament, the word repent simply means to turn around. It was a military term that described a soldier marching in one direction and then doing an about-face. Spiritually, it means to change your heart attitude—from a heart bent on self-rule (think: Frank Sinatra’s “My Way“) to a heart submitting to Christ’s rule.

It’s about a heart attitude that confesses to (or, agrees with) God and seeks His glory, His honor.

Repent and Restore

Genuine repentance is crucial to the success of restoration of a relationship. Without it, the rebuilt relationship will almost certainly crumble with even more devastating results.

Check out these 6 principles for genuine repentance.

1: Confess.

Repentant people are willing to confess all their sins, not just the sins that got them in trouble. A house isn’t clean until you open every closet and sweep every corner. People who truly desire to be clean are completely honest about their lives. No more secrets.

2. Face the Pain.

Repentant people face the pain that their sin caused others. They invite the victims of their sin (anyone hurt by their actions) to express the intensity of emotions that they feel—anger, hurt, sorrow, and disappointment. Repentant people do not give excuses or shift blame. They made the choice to hurt others, and they must take full responsibility for their behavior.

3. Ask for Forgiveness.

Repentant people ask for forgiveness from those they hurt. They realize that they can never completely “pay off” the debt they owe their victims. Repentant people don’t pressure others to say “I forgive you.” Forgiveness is a journey, and the other person needs time to deal with the hurt before they can forgive. All that penitent people can do is admit their indebtedness and humbly request the undeserved gift of forgiveness.

4. Remain Accountable.

Repentant people remain accountable to a small group of mature Christians. They gather a group of friends around themselves who hold them accountable to a plan for clean living. They invite the group to question them about their behaviors. And they follow the group’s recommendations regarding how to avoid temptation.

5. Accept Their Limitations.

Repentant people accept their limitations. They realize that the consequences of their sin (including the distrust) will last a long time, perhaps the rest of their lives. They understand that they may never enjoy the same freedom that other people enjoy.

Sex offenders or child molesters, for example, should never be alone with children. Alcoholics must abstain from drinking. Adulterers must put strict limitations on their time with members of the opposite sex. That’s the reality of their situation, and they willingly accept their boundaries.

6. Faithful to God-Given Tasks.

Repentant people are faithful to the daily tasks God has given them. We serve a merciful God who delights in giving second chances. God offers repentant people a restored relationship with Him and a new plan for life.

Repent and Heal

Listen to Hosea’s promise to rebellious Israel:

Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Hosea 6:1–2, NIV

After healing comes living.

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