Repent or No Forgiveness
Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…
What does it mean to repent? The word is translated from the Greek word metanoeo, which literally means “to change one’s mind.” To illustrate, if you and I get in a car to head to McDonald’s, and on the way we see Taco Bell and decide we’d rather have a taco than a Big Mac, and so we pull into Taco Bell instead of going to McDonald’s. Guess what we’ve just done? We’ve repented of McDonald’s…that is, we changed our minds about McDonald’s. Not only that, but our actions also changed as a direct, unavoidable result of changing our minds. We decided to go to Taco Bell instead of McDonald’s, and our actions followed suit.
God wants us to repent of sins. He wants us to change our minds about our sin. He wants us to stop glorying in our sin and letting it reign in our lives (Rom. 6:17-18). He wants us to start having the same sorrow over our sins that he has, which in turn will lead to our repentance, and thus to our salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). That’s why we are told to repent before being baptized in order that our sins will be forgiven (Acts 2:38). In baptism we die to our old selves, are buried with Christ, and rise to a new life (Rom. 6:3-5). How can any of that happen without repentance first?
Repentance is so much more than simply acknowledging that we’ve sinned, although that certainly is part of it (1 John 1:7-9). The Bible speaks of “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8; Acts 26:20). We show that we’ve truly changed our minds about our sin through our actions, and the Bible talks about what actions show a mind changed from the carnal to the spiritual. Actions which manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) rather than the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21) show whether repentance has truly taken place, and it is our actions which show the true condition of our heart (Mark 7:20-22).
Repentance…without it none of us will be forgiven.