The first word of John the Baptist was "Repent" The first words of Jesus ministry was "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." Repentance is an urgent calling! Why is it so important? Because repentance is necessary to enter into the Kingdom of God. Without genuine repentance the church will produce lukewarm worldly so called Christians by name only.
Conversion comprises two elements, and that is repentance and faith. Repentance is connected with sanctification and faith is connected with justification. Repentance and faith are like two sides of the same coin.
· Repentance is negative turning from sin.
· Faith is positive turning to God.
Peter said, "Repent, then, and turn to God…" (Acts 3:19)
There is no faith without true repentance, and no true repentance without faith.. Repentance is turning away from sin and faith is turning to Christ for salvation.
The Greek word for repentance is ‘metanoia’ This word comes with two words, meta and noia. Meta means to change as in metamorphosis, and noia means mind as in paranoia. Repentance also carries the meaning of turning away. In the Old Testament repent meant to turn away from sin and to God.
Repentance can be broken down into three elements.
1. Intellectual element. (Mind) understanding that sin is a personal
guilt against the holy God, by violating God’s standards (Romans
3:20) and deserving his punishment.
2. Emotional element. A genuine sorrow for having sinned against the holy God. (Psalm 51) This is godly sorrow. "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation…" (2 Cor.7:10) Esau wept over the consequences but there was no true repentance. (Hebrews 12:17) Here it is very important to understand the difference between attrition and contrition. Attrition has to do with turning away from sin, simply to escape punishment. It is a repentance to escape punishment. A good example is found in Joshua chapter seven, when Achan confessed his sin when he was caught, it was a repentance to avoid punishment, but God is not mocked, so he put Achan to death. Contrition has to do with a broken and a contrite heart, which is genuine godly sorrow, found in Psalm 51.
3. Voluntary element. (Personal decision) This has to do with your Will and purpose of forsaking sin and to walk in obedience to Christ Jesus.
No one can even repent unless they hear the Word of God first, as God is the initiator of salvation. "Salvation comes from the Lord." (Jonah 2:9) Repentance is an act of human will but not the product of human will. It is a gift of God. "Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Timothy 2:25) and in Acts 11:18, "God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life"
Repentance will not remove the guilt of sin, as it has no merit. Justification will remove the guilt of sin on the merit of Christ’s righteousness. A genuine repentance will provide a changed life, which is the fruit of repentance.