When you pose the question “What does it mean to repent and how do you repent?” to someone walking down the street and pretty common answer would be “To say I’m sorry and ask for forgiveness”.
Yes… that’s part of it… but not the whole picture of how you repent.
What Defines Repentance?
When you look at definitions for repent, when used as a verb, usually say something along the lines of feeling guilty enough to change a life for the better. This sounds like it takes a little more than the average answer of “I’m sorry and can you forgive me”.
So How Do You Repent?
So this leads to the main question: How do you repent? If it’s more than just saying sorry, what do you do?
Matthew 3:2 is an interesting verse for repentance. Depending on which version of the Bible you are reading it can either be vague on how you repent, or it can be so specific that you find yourself thinking “Duh! Why didn’t I know that already?” So, according to Matthew 3:2, how do you repent?
Let’s take a look at the different versions of Matthew 3:2
- NIV Translation – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
- TNIV Translation – “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
- The Message Translation – “Change your life. God’s kingdom is here” (This sounds like it’s starting to make sense on how to repent.
- God’s Word Translation – “Turn to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near”.
Bingo! The Message Translation and the God’s Word Translation have laid it out pretty well.
So how do you repent? You do have to say sorry and ask for forgiveness, but you also have to change your ways. Change how you think and act so as to not fall into the same trap again.
It’s A Heart Thing
Repentance is all about the heart, not about the words.
It’s about the actions and the meaning behind the words that counts. It’s about being humble and coming to God knowing you have sinned and through your relationship with Him are wanting to change your ways.
In the parable of the lost sheep Jesus tells the importance of repentance. So how do you repent based on this parable?
Well, his example of following after the one lost sheep and rejoicing when he’s rescued it directly relates to each of us. God wants us to repent and He wants to rejoice in the heavens for the one lost sinner who has repented.
In Luke 15:7 it says that there will be more rejoicing up in the Heavens for the one person that repents and changes their life for the better than the ninety-nine people who thing they are “too good” to repent and don’t need to.
How do you repent? Come to the Lord honestly and humbly. Admit your sins and make a pledge to change the way you act and think.
Change your heart and be calm knowing that God will rejoice His lost sheep coming home to him at last.