What Does The Bible Say About Repentance? A Christian Study

by Derek Hill on December 2, 2012 · Print Print · Email Email

Repentance is defined in Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life.”  Repentance is a choice that believers make to regret the sins that we have made and to turn away from them.  What does the Bible say about Repentance?  Is it necessary to have a repentant heart?  Let us see what God, Himself, breathed into the living Word.

Nations Who Chose To Not Repent

Matthew 11:20-24 says, “Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his (Jesus) mighty works had been done, because they did not repent.  ‘Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.  But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.  And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven?  You will be brought down to Hades.  For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.  But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.’”

Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum all chose lives of sin and loved it.  They basked in their own “man-made” glories and disregarded what Christ had done in their cities.  Christ made it quite clear that if repentance is not expressed, there will be eternal death in Hades.  This doesn’t mean that someone who forgets a sin they committed and doesn’t repent one time is going to hell.  This means that someone who chooses a life of sin over a life in Christ and has no remorse or willingness to repent will suffer eternal damnation in the very place where God is not present, which is hell.

Some other verses that go along with this are:

  1. Luke13:3 – “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
  2. Jeremiah 18:11 – “Now, therefore, say to the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: ‘Thus says the Lord, Behold, I am shaping disaster against you and devising a plan against you. Return, every one from his evil way, and amend your ways and your deeds.’”
  3. Jeremiah 15:6 – “You have rejected me, declares the Lord; you keep going backward, so I have stretched out my hand against you and destroyed you— I am weary of relenting.”

People Who Choose To Repent

Psalm 86:5 – “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”

“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.” (Ezekiel 18:21-22)  These are literally God’s own words that He spoke to Ezekiel.  I must say that we do have such an awesome God!  Every sin you and I have ever committed are gone if we have remorse and repent of our sins.  There isn’t a “works-based” format that we must follow.  We don’t have to do any acts of service to gain God’s favor in repentance.  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.

Other verses that showcase God’s love in repentance are:

  1. 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
  2. Acts 3:19 – “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out.”
  3. Psalm 86:5 – “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”

Are There Sins Not Forgivable In Repentance?

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.”  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines blaspheme as “to speak of or address with irreverence.”  This occurs when God has done something in your life and you give credit to Satan instead.  God hands out His blessings plentifully, but if you attribute these blessings to have come from Satan, then you have committed the unpardonable sin.  When I was in Christian college, my professor taught on this and the whole class was wondering, “What if I have committed this sin?  How do I know if I have?”  He addressed this issue by saying to us, “The fact that you are concerned about this already shows that 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.”  So, I encourage you not to panic if you are concerned.  Your concern has done you well and you can be sure that you have not committed this sin.

Conclusion

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.  Our God is absolutely amazing and the fact that He is willing to forgive us every single time we sin (with exception of the unpardonable sin) shows us how patient He is and just how much He absolutely loves us all!  I hope and pray that if you are struggling with telling God, “I’m sorry,” that you would let go and say it.  You never know when your last breath will happen or when Christ is coming back.  Don’t miss out on an eternity of paradise with our Father, Jesus, and fellow brothers and sisters.  God bless you in your daily walk with the Lord!

Resources:

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary



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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Christine Guzay December 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thank you,very good read.

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Christine Guzay December 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Thank you:)

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Derek December 2, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Thank you for your kindness Christine :) You have been an encouragement to me. God bless you!

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Jack Wellman December 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Once again I must say great work here Derek. I believe that many church’s don’t preach about repentance and then there is seen no need for it but repentance is the beginning of our eternal life journey. Thank you again brother for such good teaching as you always

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Derek December 2, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Thank you Jack. Repentance is such a key part of living a “real” life with Christ. When we repent, we are truly saying “sorry” to our Father and our Brother/Savior (Christ). You have always been an encourager to me. Thank you brother.

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Robert December 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Great article Derek,
I agree with Jack, too many churches skip over the topics of sin and repentance and I don’t think it is doing the body of Christ any good. Thanks for this reminder, or should I say, wake up call.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Derek Hill December 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Thank you for your kindness Robert. The church that I attended before my current one was a church that would talk about repentance sometimes, but I didn’t see a lot of action on it though. I firmly believe that this is why that church go so “political” in its views. God is not a politician and we shouldn’t make the church that way either. God bless you brother.

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Pam December 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm

A very good article and one I needed to read. I have wondered about the unpardonable sin and after reading your thoughts and your teachers thought I do feel better. I was baptized when I was 12. I married a man who got me sidetracked which was my fault. I wanted to please him more than I did God. A huge mistake on my part. I am back with God. He is clearly my Savior. I’ve read this site so often. It helps me to understand the Bible. Thank you

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Derek December 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Thank you Pam for your transparency. We all put things in front of God frequently. It is in repentance that we can be whole again with Him. God bless you.

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charles December 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

this is a awesome web site i love it, and thank you very much for having it.

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Derek December 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Thank you so much Charles. We all love writing for the glory of God here. God bless you and your loved ones!

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Stephen Muhali December 31, 2012 at 10:07 am

Thankyou Derek may God bless you as you have brought something very important to my knowledge that i didnt know before,may God help us always in Jesus name

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Derek Hill January 1, 2013 at 1:45 pm

Thank you Stephen. Repentance is mandatory for believers. It is what keep us in a real relationship with God. You said it perfect, “May God help us always in Jesus name.” Amen brother. Well said.

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zenon bulbs April 9, 2013 at 4:35 am

How have you manage to build this kind of fantastic group involving commenters to your web page?

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Derek Hill April 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm

With out a doubt, this is a work from God! :) It is truly a blessing to interact with fellow believers on this site, including you! God bless you!

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nu April 9, 2013 at 7:08 am

This site is our getting, authentic fantastic design and ideal written content.

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Derek Hill April 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Thank you so much Nu! I appreciate your kind words! All the glory goes to God, though! He has truly blessed the writers and the readers of this site. I enjoy interacting with our fellow readers very much! God bless you!

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sarah April 17, 2013 at 11:27 pm

Hello and thank you for a great article. I often wonder if I need to be asking forgiveness and repenting of every sin a can recall (which would take more time than I can imagine.) OR is it okay to tell God I am sorry for my sin as I do not want to make him angry/sad and then ask for forgiveness for all sins in the past, present and future and for help to repent from them?

If people forget to ask forgiveness for specific sins or happen not to repent, are they still saved as long as they trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior?

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Derek Hill April 17, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Thank you for your kind words Sarah. Your heart is in the right place. If there is unconfessed sin that you know about and refuse to repent then there is a problem. It sounds like you want to confess for all of your sins, so you are definitely ok. If you happened to have forgotten a sin that you did and didn’t ask for forgiveness, you’d be fine. The point of repentance is to turn away from sin. If you can’t remember your past sin, then you have probably already turned away from it anyways. As long as you trust in Jesus and keep confessing of sins that you know of, you will be alright! God bless!

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sarah April 17, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Hi Derek!
Thanks for such a quick response. Yes, I want to be right in the eyes of the Lord. Sometimes I just pray for him to forgive me and help me to repent of ALL sins in general instead of spending forever trying to confess each one. I just wanted to see if there was anything scriptural about having to confess/repent of each and every sin.

I am totally willing to do so, but just wanted to see what happens if you forget to ask forgiveness/repent of a few due to lack of time or pure forgetfulness.

Thanks again!

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Robert April 18, 2013 at 7:00 am

Hi Sarah,
I think this verse may sum up the idea, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 ESV). If we confess the sins we know about, God cleanses us entirely. God bless you, Sarah.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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brian August 20, 2013 at 2:38 am

I wanted to share something that i think is essential. by my experience i have tried to repent for sins but i found that i do from the surface. what to do about that since i keep returning to sin… so i beleive that God showed me this: ask for a repentant heart from God. sorry is not enough. then the next day i began seeing times in my past where i was rebellious toward God even in my brokeness i turned away but now i am truly repentant thank you God.

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Derek Hill August 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Amen Brian! God does not want “lip service” from us. He wants a genuine apology from the heart. Bless you brother and thank you for sharing!

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Lindsey February 15, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Hi Derek,

I’m a little confused and trying to make sure I am comprehending correctly. I understand that we as Christians need to repent and that by doing so it keeps us from hindering our relationship with the Lord. If we do something wrong we should apologize .I read somewhere that the Greek context used when pertaining to salvation meant renewing of the mind and changing our mind about who Jesus is and what he did for us on the cross. I thought that we are suppose to go to the Lord empty handed aknowledging that we can’t change and turn from sin on our own and that when he saves us he will continue to change us and mold us. I just want to make sure that I understand correctly because I don’t want to misinform anyone or pervert Gods word. Thanks and God Bless!!!

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Derek Hill February 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Hi Lindsey

Yes you are right. Only Jesus can save us and only God can mold us into who He wants us to be, but we have the responsibility to act on this and not simply standing idle. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) You see, we have to play an active role. We must come to Him for repentance, but you are right, only God can change our heart. We will fail every time if we take on sin by ourselves. With God though we can be victorious. So, yes you are right on the money. God is the molder and we must come to Him acknowledging our sins and asking for repentance. Thank you for your thoughts and God bless!

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Lindsey February 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Also thank you all for this page and what you do : ) I like how you can ask questions and interact with other brothers and sisters in Christ!

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Derek Hill February 15, 2014 at 3:03 pm

We love the interaction here too! I have learned a lot from all of my brothers and sisters who have commented on articles, as well as from the other writers. You guys are all awesome and I appreciate each and every one of you!!

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Lindsey February 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

Thanks for responding so quickly. I agree we should be working out our faith by being active. : ) Enjoy your weekend!!!

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anthony July 21, 2014 at 8:20 pm

hi on the unpardonable sin i believe that anyone who can repent could have forgiveness because God said he no wise to cast no one out, but anyone who commit the unpardonable sin is unable to repent that that what i believe

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Derek Hill July 21, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Hi Anthony. I would agree with you in that anyone who commits the unpardonable sin is unable to repent because they have at that point drawn a line in the sand by choosing to believe that Satan has blessed them instead of God. At this point Satan has complete control of them and there is no hope at all. God bless you and thank you for your thoughts!

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