The word “repent” in its various forms occurs more than 100 times in the Bible. This shows the great importance of repentance. Nearly every church requires repentance from sin of those who wish to be members. However, repentance is a greatly misunderstood command of God. It is also a very difficult command. Some have said it is the most difficult command in all the Bible.
What is Repentance?
Sometimes the best way to learn the meaning of a word is first to look at what it is not before looking at what it is. Many people think repentance is just being sorry for one’s sins. This is not what repentance is! The apostle Paul wrote: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). If one is sorry for the sins he has committed, it will cause him to repent of them. One Pentecost Day, the Jews who heard Peter preach Christ “were cut to the heart.” This shows they were very sorry for their sin of crucifying Jesus, but their sorrow for sin was not repentance. Peter still had to tell them to “. . .Repent and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins;…” (Acts 2:37, 38).
If repentance is not being sorry for one’s sins, then what is repentance? According to all the teaching of the Bible, repentance is a change of one’s mind toward sin. It is produced by godly sorrow for one’s sins. The result of this change of mind toward sin will be a change of life. A good example of what is involved in repentance is a parable that Jesus told: “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he regretted it and went” (Matthew 21:28,29). The son disobeyed his father. When he regretted (was sorry ) for his disobedience, he changed his mind about his decision. He then did what his father had asked him to do.
Repentance involves restitution. “Restitution” means that we will make right the things we have done wrong in so far as possible. If one has murdered another person, he can not restore that person back to life. He can, however, help the widow and children of the man he has killed. If one has stolen money from another person, when he repents, he must return the money he has stolen. John the Baptist told the Pharisees and Sadducee’s to “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
Read more: http://www.churchofchrist.com.au/Tracts/repent.htm