The definition of repentance in the Bible is: to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction.) 

Repentance means a sincere turning away, in both the mind and heart, from self to God.  Repentance involves us realizing just how offensive our sins are to God.  It involves a change of mind that leads to action.  It leads to turning away from a sinful path to God.  It has been said that true repentance is taking God’s side against yourself.  Repentance is mentioned throughout the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. 

  • We read in Ezekiel 18:30, “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. REPENT and TURN yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”  It is so interesting to know that the Hebrew word for ‘repent’ and ‘turn’ is the same!  The Lord is calling for a change of mind and a change of direction. 
  • John the Baptist’s message to the lost house of Israel was one of repentance.  We read in Matthew 3:1-2, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, REPENT YE: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 
  • The Lord Jesus preached repentance in Luke 5:32, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to REPENTANCE.”
  • The Apostle Peter preached repentance in Acts 3:19, “REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” 

The Bible states that people are saved by faith alone as we read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  However, there can be no faith in Christ without repentance and no true repentance without faith. The two are inseparable.  H.A. Ironside once wrote, “”Faith and repentance are indissolubly linked together.”  It is when we realize we are sinners and are accountable to God that we will repent…and true repentance will lead us in faith to Christ.  The Apostle Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21).  In fact, no Gospel message would be complete without speaking of the sinner’s need of repenting for his sins and the salvation from his sins that comes from putting one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance is an essential part of salvation, requiring a turning away from the sin-ruled life to a life characterized by obedience to God. The Holy Spirit leads a person to repent, but repentance in itself does not save us.  True repentance towards God will cause us to put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ…and that is what saves us.  This is perfectly illustrated in the saints from Thessalonica who “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).  (465.4)