What is Does it Mean to Repent?

If someone where to ask you, what is true repentance, how would you answer?

You might say, “True Repentance is being grieved over our sin so much that we turn away from sin and turn toward God.”

You might continue by saying what one commentator has said, “True repentance is to return to God, to His covenant, and to loyalty and obedience.”

That is a pretty heavy definition, so let’s break it down into manageable parts.

True Repentance Means we are Grieved Over Sin

We see in the first place that repentance is more than just being sorry for what we have done. It is to be grieved over our sin.

One day, when I was young I was doing something I should not do with the neighborhood kids. I don’t remember what it was, but I knew my mom did not want me to do it, but I did it anyway. Some how my mom knew I did what she did not want me to do. I don’t know how she knew, or how she found out. Mom’s seem to have that keen ability to just know when their kids disobey.

Later that day, she asked me about it. Instead of telling the truth, I decided I would lie to see if I could get away with it, but my mom knew I was lying. And because I disobeyed her and lied to her, I was punished for it.

I remember as I sat in my room, I was grieved, not just because I had gotten caught, and now I could not go out and play with my friends, but because I offended my mom.

Repentance is similar. It is an understanding that we as sinners offend a Holy God, and in realizing that, we are truly grieved over our sin. Not just because we will be punished one day, but because we offend God.

True Repentance Involves the Entire Person, Loyalty and Obedience to God

We also learn that repentance involves more than just grief. It involves radical transformation of the entire person – our mind, our heart, and our will.

Many of you have seen the movie the Matrix. At the beginning of the movie, the main character, Nero, is offered a choice between two pills, a red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill allows him to carry on life as if he had never even met Morpheus and learned the truth. The red pill allows him to be plunged into the Matrix fully learning all of what Morpheus and his crew know.

As he stares at those two pills he has a choice. Keep living like nothing happened. Or change everything. We all know that Nero chooses the red pill and is plunged into the Matrix with Morpheus‘ and his crew. When he chose that red pill, he turned away from the life he once knew and embarked on a new journey.

That is also apart of what it means to repent of our sins. It is a complete turning away from our old way of life to a new way of life in Christ. We can’t just do this intellectually. When Nero decided to take that red pill, his whole being was involved.

Similarly, when we repent of our sins, we don’t just do so intellectually. Our whole being is involved. Our mind, our will, our heart all turn from sin toward God. When we do that, we submit ourselves to God, to His rule, and to what He wants for our lives, just like Nero submitted himself to the Matrix, it’s rule, and what it wanted for his life.

So when we repent of our sins, we are saying that we will be loyal to God and obedient to Him, and our loyalty involves more than just our mind, it involves our whole being.


We have to ask ourselves, given this definition of repentance, have we really repented?

  • Are you grieved knowing you have offended a Holy God because you are a sinner?
  • Have you turned to God from your sin, allowing Him to be the Lord of your life?
  • Are you loyal to God and God alone?
  • Are you obedient to God’s commands?

If we are truly repentant, these things will be evident in our life. I pray they are evident in your life.



5 thoughts on “What is Does it Mean to Repent?

  1. While I agree with the essential steps you write about here, I also think that repentance is even farther reaching than this.

    This new culture we find ourselves in does not know the Lord. Speaking about such concepts as sin, obedience, repentance, or even a holy and loving God may be beyond their conception. However, there are many who have a vague sense of uneasiness concerning their lives, the state of their community, and the world in general. One must plow the ground before the seed can be planted.

    I write more about this here: https://donhartness.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/a-fish-story/

    1. Don,
      Thanks for your comment. I also read your post.

      I agree with your comment. We do find ourselves in a culture that has no concept of sin, obedience, repentance, or even God at times. For that reason, I do believe we need to recognize that and teach people those concepts. After doing so, I think we need to call them to repent. In order to help people do just that, I wrote this post. As well as I wrote this post to challenge those in the Bible Belt, which is where I pastor.

      Thanks again for interacting with my post here. I enjoy the conversation.

      Casey Lewis

  2. Pingback: Repent by Michael Daley Pastor | Prayer Works Cafe

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