What is true Repentance?
Repentance in the Bible involves the following:
- An understanding of the awesome holiness of God which cannot tolerate sin or rebellion.
- An understanding of your sinfulness and guilt before God.
- Knowledge of God's mercy and forgiveness.
- A hatred of sin and the desire to turn away from it, towards God.
- A determination to live a holy life, walking in continual obedience to God in the future.
Biblical repentance always involves knowledge of God and His standards. So, if you want to see true repentance in your own life you must start with time carefully reading the Bible, time speaking with God in prayer and time when you simply listen - every day. The closer we are to God, the more aware we are of the condition of our lives.
When you are ready you must identify the sin and sinful habits in your life, and confess them to God. It is often helpful to physically speak out your confession. You must be genuinely sorry for these sins and the damage they have done to you and to others. You must then firmly decide to turn your back on these sins and leave them behind - not just today, but every day.
Finally, you must be determined to turn to God. You must decide each day to live according to God's standards, and to walk towards Him in everything that you do. Repentance is not just turning away from your sins and sinful habits, but it is also a turning towards God as well.
It is important to understand that half hearted (or reluctant) repentance is not true repentance. If you are not genuinely sorry for your sin, and truely determined to live in a new way, then you will easily fall back into your old sinful habits.
If you want to encourage true repentance in another person, then you can talk with them about God and encourage them to read the Bible for themselves. Pray for them, that they will grow in understanding of God and His standards, and pray for conviction of sin in their lives. Be careful not to judge the other person - that is not our responsibility, but God's. Do not put pressure on the other person, but give them the time that they need to know true sorrow for their sin, and a real determination to change.