Repentance Means 'To Change Your Mind'

In the Bible, repentance means “to change your mind.”

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Repentance is not quite the same as turning from sin though turning from sin does happen when you repent and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior.

In Mark 1:15, Jesus said:

"Repent or change your mind
and believe the gospel."

The Greek word for "repent" is metanoeo, which means, "to change your mind." Biblical repent@nce involves a change of mind. But what do we change our minds about? We change our minds about our sin and our own ability to satisfy the demands of God's righteousness. We agree with God that we need His righteousness because "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Isaiah 64:6.

The Bible may not use the exact words "repent of your sins" or "turn from your sins" but the idea of turning from something is Biblical. In the Old Testament, unbelieving Israel was exhorted: "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?" Ezekiel 33:11.

That turning required Israel to change her mind about her sin and rebellion against God. Turning from sin is the result of salvation, not the cause of salvation. Turning from your sins happens after salvation, not as a requirement for salvation. In the New Testament, Paul reminds believers in Thessalonica that they "turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." I Thessalonians 1:9.

Turning from your sin is not a condition for salvation but turning to God certainly is required. And when someone turns to God and receives the gift of God which is "eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" Romans 6:23, a change of mind or repentance has occurred.

Adam Clarke defines repentance

"Repentance, then, implies that a measure of Divine wisdom is communicated to the sinner, and that he thereby becomes wise to salvation. That his mind, purposes, opinions, and inclinations, are changed; and that, in consequence, there is a total change in his conduct. It need scarcely be remarked, that, in this state, a man feels deep anguish of soul, because he has sinned against God, unfitted himself for heaven, and exposed his soul to hell. Hence, a true penitent has that sorrow, whereby he forsakes sin, not only because it has been ruinous to his own soul, but because it has been offensive to God." - Adam Clarke, 1760-1832, Methodist preacher in England

Jamieson, Faucett and Brown on repentance

"Though the word strictly denotes a change of mind, it has respect here (and wherever it is used in connection with salvation) primarily to that sense of sin which leads the sinner to flee from the wrath to come, to look for relief only from above, and eagerly to fall in with the provided remedy."

Matthew Henry on repentance

"Metanoeite--Bethink yourselves; "Admit a second thought, to correct the errors of the first--an afterthought. Consider your ways, change your minds; you have thought amiss; think again, and think aright." Note, True penitents have other thoughts of God and Christ, and sin and holiness, and this world and the other, than they have had, and stand otherwise affected toward them. The change of the mind produces a change of the way. Those who are truly sorry for what they have done amiss, will be careful to do so no more. This repentance is a necessary duty, in obedience to the command of God (Acts 17:30); and a necessary preparative and qualification for the comforts of the gospel of Christ." - Matthew Henry, Welsh Non-Conformist pastor, 1662-1714

It is important to have faith in the blood of Christ as the acceptable sacrifice/payment for our sins. As the Bible says, we are saved "through faith in his blood" Romans 3:25.

'Changing your mind' about your sins and your need of a Savior leads you to “receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness” which God offers us in Jesus Christ, Romans 5:17.

Repent and
believe the gospel.

Salvation is a free gift of God, “not of works lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:9.

Our salvation completely depends on God's mercy through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Romans 3:25, 5:9, Hebrews 9:12.

We are not saved by "turning from sins.” Repenting does not mean "turn from your sins." Repenting means to "change your mind." Remember what Jesus said in Mark 1:15.

"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, change your mind, and believe the gospel."

Have you changed your mind and trusted Jesus Christ?

Public domain photo:
Manassah repents

  1. Notice that Jesus did not say: "repent and forsake your sins."

  2. Notice that Jesus did not say: “repent and turn from all your sins.”

  3. Notice what Jesus did say: "repent (change your mind) and believe the gospel."

What causes someone to change their mind?
The answer is found in Romans 3:19.

"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God."

The law of God, including the Ten Commandments shows us our sin. God’s law shows us our guilt and points out our inability to save ourselves. That knowledge should lead us to repentance as surely as the goodness of God leads us to repentance.

Repent means 'change your mind.'
Have you repented?

When we realize our inability to save ourselves, we change our minds about trying to work our way to heaven and we trust Jesus Christ. And that is exactly what God wants us to do. Faced with what the Law of God says about us, we realize we are guilty, condemned before God. Jesus spoke of this in John 3:18.

“He that believeth on him [God] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

What brings a sinner to repentance and causes him to change his mind about sin?

You must realize you are lost before you can see the need to get saved. Realizing you are lost involves a change of mind. You must realize you are a guilty sinner before God. Our human belief is that we are pretty good people.

Certainly we could not be so bad that God would keep us out of heaven. But as we read and believe the Bible, we learn that we are indeed so bad that God will not let us into heaven.

The Bible convicts us of our sin and we change our mind. We begin to agree with what God says about us, that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," Romans 3:23. That sense of guilt about sin should lead us to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, as the payment for our sins.

Feeling a desire to change your life, feeling regret or sorrow for your sins is a bit different than truly repenting. You can feel sorry for your sins without changing your mind about the sinfulness of your sins.

Biblical repentance is a change of mind about your sins, not a change of emotions.

It's like being in jail but not being sorry
for the crime that put you there.

Realizing you are a guilty sinner is much different than feeling sorrow or feeling remorse over your sins. Do you understand the difference?

  1. Feeling sorry for your sins is a self-generated emotion.

  2. Feeling guilty for your sins is a matter of self-awareness.

Someone in jail can be sorry in an emotional sense for the crimes that put him in jail.

Behind Bars

But until he changes his mind about the awfulness of his sins, he has not repented. He may only be sorry because he got caught instead of being truly sorry because what he did was wrong.

Someone can feel deep emotion over his failures and mistakes in life without feeling guilty because he has sinned against God. Repentance causes a change of mind because he realizes he has sinned against God.

The point is that emotional feelings and emotional sorrow over your sin is not the same as Biblical repentance. Biblical repentance is a very simple proposition. Biblical repentance is a change of mind. It means that you agree with God that you are guilty and cannot save yourself.

It means that you trust Jesus Christ as the payment for your sins instead of trusting your good works, your sincerity, your church membership, your Christian upbringing, your baptism. Remember what Jesus said.

“Change your mind
and believe the gospel.”

“Some people say we have to repent of all our sins in order to be saved. That’s not quite true. We have to repent of the one thing that makes us unsaved and that is unbelief. ” John 16:9.

According to John 20:31, the Gospel of John was written so that we can believe on Jesus and be saved, yet repentance is never mentioned in the Gospel of John.

Now that's interesting! It doesn't mean that repentance is unnecessary. Instead, it means that repentance is involved when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. It means that we change our mind when we place our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Changing your mind about sin and trusting Jesus are not separate events. They happen simultaneously.

The Gospel of John never uses the words "repent" and "repentance." Instead the Gospel of John uses the words "faith" and "believe" 98 times. That is because when a sinner accepts, believes on, receives Jesus Christ as His Savior, he has repented, he has changed his mind.

Changing your mind leads to faith in Jesus Christ. To believe on Jesus as Savior means that the one who believes has also repented or changed his mind. When you change your mind about sin and the Savior, when you trust Jesus Christ as the payment for your sins, at that moment you are saved.

Don’t Be Confused By Lordship Salvation

Lordship Salvation is the false teaching that sinners must turn from or forsake all their actual sins before they can be saved. As we have noted above, that is not the teaching of Jesus. The Bible does not teach that anyone has to turn from all his sins to get saved. In two thousand years, NO ONE on earth ever turned from all his sins before they got saved or after they got saved. Yes, after you get saved, there will be a turning from sin but turning from all your sins is not a prerequisite for getting saved or staying saved.

Please don’t misunderstand. When you repent (change your mind) and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, that will change your life. You will feel differently about your sins and you will begin to turn from and forsake your sins as God draws you into closer fellowship with Him. That is a process the Bible calls sanctification.

But forsaking your sins isn’t the way to get saved or stay saved. You could forsake every sin and live a sinless life from now until the day you die. But if you never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, turning from all your sins and quitting all your sins would not get you into heaven.

Jesus exclaimed in Mark 1:15, "...repent, change your mind, and believe the gospel."

Definition of Repentance

Repentance means that we change our mind and agree with God. We begin to view things as God views things instead of rejecting God’s viewpoint. Therefore, when a sinner accepts, believes on, receives Jesus Christ as His Savior, he has repented or changed his mind.

You can study the word repent in the Bible
by clicking the Link below.

The word repent occurs 46 times
in 43 verses in the KJV.

Changing your mind and believing what God says in the Bible is repentance. As you read and believe the written scriptures, you begin to change your mind about absolute truth. Instead of rejecting God’s truth, believing what you read in the Bible causes you to change your mind and accept God’s truth. Changing your mind and believing what God says is the essence of repentance.

Repentance is also a post-Resurrection truth preached by the Apostle Paul. Click here to study Acts 17;30 about what it means to repent. This Link will open in a new page. Repentance is not just an Old Testament concept. It is an essential part of New Testament belief.

Jesus Christ encouraged us to repent

Find Out Why By Studying
What Jesus Said About Hell.

"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." -Mark 1:14-15.

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you are saved forever

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This page updated August 22, 2015

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