Foundation Topic

What Is Repentance?

Repentance is a God-given resolve to turn away from and forsake sin in heart, mind, and deed—whatever the cost—and to seek God instead. Repentance begins with conviction from the Holy Spirit and results in confession, courage to respond in faith, and a change of what you do or think. Repentance is proof that you have truly believed in Jesus and crowned him as Lord of your life.

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Short Content

What Is Repentance?

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.”
(Matthew 18:12-13 NIV)

Repentance is an increasingly familiar experience for followers of Jesus.

It’s a change of mind brought about by God’s Spirit. He convicts us of our rebellion against God in a certain area of our lives, and we see our sin as it is—an offense against God. He then points us to Jesus Christ, who has fully atoned for all our sin, and gives us faith that Jesus wants to extend to us forgiveness.

This change in our thinking always produces a change in behavior. God’s Spirit at work in us in this way will move us to forsake our sin, seek Jesus for forgiveness, and live more obediently to him.

Repentance is turning around, we might say, and will always include decisive action. In biblical terms, however, repentance is God’s loving rescue. We have wandered from the truth like sheep wandering from their Shepherd and he has brought us back.

The first time you ever repent is when you turn from a life lived in rebellion towards God and you come to the truth that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and that he is the only way to be forgiven of your sin and reconciled to God (1 Timothy 2:5; Acts 4:12). A Christian first experiences repentance when they are lost in the pastures of the world, chasing sin, and in rebellion against the Good Shepherd, and are then rescued—brought in Jesus’ arms to his pasture to belong to him (John 10).

But the Christian life is full of repentance. One hymnwriter summarizes the state of our hearts like this: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.Even after we belong to the Good Shepherd, we still choose to wander away from him at times, in one way or another.

You may wonder, what does repentance look like?

First, you will hear the Shepherd’s voice calling out to you (John 10:27). Through the Words of Scripture, or a friend, or your conscience, you will hear him call, “Repent! Come back” (Ezekiel 14:6; Hosea 14:1; Matthew 3:2; Acts 3:19). You will hear him warn you of danger. You will feel the sharp sting of conviction (John 16:7-8)

And then you will come to your senses (Psalm 73:21-22). You will see clearly that you are on a lesser hill than where the Shepherd would have you, you will realize how far away you are from him who you love, and how foolish you were to go your own way, and how wicked you were to break his law, and this will all grieve your heart (2 Corinthians 7:9).

Your stubborn will may overcome your senses and you may wander further for fear he will not receive you back, for persistent distrust that where he shall lead is better than where you are, or for sinful curiosity to keep going where he has forbidden.

But the Shepherd will keep calling and keep coming after you—he will come closer until he overtakes you.

There will come a point where he does one of two things—he may put his crook around your neck and yank in a painful way to help your will resign to returning to him (Revelation 3:19).

Or he may take out a rod and, to your surprise, beat the predator you could not see that was about to devour you (Romans 2:4). His kindness will woo your heart back to him in such a way that there’s nowhere you would rather be than with him in his pasture (Psalm 73:23-26).

The way home on the road of repentance is always sweet. The Shepherd does not scold; he loves to rescue and restore (Matthew 18:13). It is his life’s work (John 10:14-15).

In a beautiful poem, the Shepherd-King David told us that the experience of repentance is a great comfort to the Christian. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” he wrote (Psalm 23:4). Is that kind of language surprising to you?

Often, we hang our heads at our own sin, we feel ashamed of having wandered at all, convince ourselves that our sin is impossible to forgive, or think the Shepherd only comes to scold. Repentance may be a scary word to you. But to the Psalmist, it’s a comfort.

Repentance means the Lord will always come after us if we decide to wander. The experience of repentance is the fruit of Jesus’ wonderful promise, I will never leave you to yourself (John 14:17).

And the more you see of Jesus and the more you see of you, the more you’ll want him to lead and to save you from you.



Theme Verse

I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.


What Is Repentance?


Repentance is a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it. It is, in fact, a change of mind of a very deep and practical character, which makes the man love what once he hated, and hate what once he loved.

What is repentance?

Fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor—that is the only way out of our ‘hole.’ This process of surrender—this movement full speed astern—is what Christians call repentance.
by C.S. Lewis


[Repentance] means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into… It means killing part of yourself, under-going a kind of death.

The Kingdom of God
is near!
Repent of your sins
and believe
the Good

John the Baptist, Mark 1:15 NLT
Messages: 67 Min

Happy Are the Sad

by John MacArthur

Messages: 48 Min

The Response of Faith: Repentance

by Matt Chandler


I restore
the crushed
spirit of
the humble
and revive the courage
of those with

The Lord, Isaiah 57:15 NLT

Praise & Worship

Come Ye Sinners

by The Worship Initiative feat. Davy Flowers & Robbie Seay
Luke 15:7 ESV

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

How To Repent?
Acts 2:37-38 CSB

When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."


turns from sin to Christ,
and faith embraces
him as the only
hope of salvation
and righteousness.
That is what
conversion means
in simple terms.


Confession by itself
is not repentance.
the lips;
repentance moves the heart.
Naming an act
as evil before God
is not the same
as leaving it.
Though your
confession may
be honest and
emotional, it is

not enough unless
it expresses a
true change of heart.

Acts 3:19 NIV

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Messages: 53 Min

How to Experience
Refreshing and Blessing

by Britt Merrick


Faith and repentance
are inseparable,
in the same way
that the command

to come here
cannot be fulfilled
without leaving there.

Messages: 28 Min

Turning to God With All Your Heart

by Colin Smith



look like?

You may have heard of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, or The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. Both books, as well as Lewis’ book, The Great Divorce, include fictional scenes that illustrate the biblical concept of repentance. They show us that coming to God means forsaking our old self and our favorite sins, but always results in deep joy.

Choose one of the stories below. Grab a hot drink or find a quiet place to read and discover what repentance looks like. 

Matthew 5:29-30 CSB

If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Messages: 40 Min

The Miracle, Message, and Joy of Repentance

by Joe Jones