Scriptural Repentance

Scriptural Repentance
3 Articles By Apostolic Ministers

Article 1
False Repentance
Charles G. Finney

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation,not to he repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” II Corinthians 7:10

False repentance produces only a partial reformation of conduct.

The reformation that is produced by worldly sorrow extends only to those things of which the individual has been strongly convicted. The heart is not changed. You will see him avoid only those cardinal sins, about which he has been much exercised.

Observe that young convert. If he is deceived, you will find that there is only a partial change in his conduct. He is reformed in certain things, but there are many things which are wrong that he continues to practice. If you become intimately acquainted with him, instead of finding him trembling alive to sin everywhere, and quick to detect it in everything that is contrary to the spirit of the gospel, you will find him, perhaps, strict and quick sighted in regard to certain things, but loose in his conduct and lax in his views on other points, and very far from manifesting a Christian spirit in regard to all sin. Ordinarily, the reformation produced by false sorrow is temporary even in those things which are reformed.

The individual is continually relapsing into his old sins. The reason is, the disposition to sin is not gone, it is
only checked and restrained by fear, and as soon as he has a hope and is in the church and gets bolstered up so that his fears are allayed, you see him gradually wearing back, and presently returning to his old sins. This was the difficulty with the house of Israel, that made them so constantly return to their idolatry and other sins. They had only worldly sorrow. You see it now everywhere in the church. Individuals are reformed for a time, and taken into the church and then relapse into their old sins. They love to call it getting cold in religion, and backsliding, and the like, but the truth is, they always loved sin, and when the occasion offered, they returned to it, as the sow that washed to her wallowing in the mire, because she was always a sow.

I would you should understand this point thoroughly. Here is the foundation of all those firsts and starts in religion, that you see so much of. People are awakened, and convicted, and by-and-by they get to hope and settle down in false security and then away they go. Perhaps, they may keep so far on their guard as not to be turned out of the church, but the foundations of sins are not broken up, and they return to their own ways. The woman that loved dress loves it still; and gradually returns to her ribands and gewgaws. The man who loved money loves it yet, and soon slides back into his old ways, and dives into business, and pursues the world as eagerly and devotedly as he did before he joined the church.

Go through all the departments of society, and if you find thorough conversions, you will find that their most besetting sins before conversion are farthest from them now. The real convert is least likely to fall into his old
besetting sin, because he abhors it most. But if he is deceived and worldly minded, he is always tending back into the same sins. The woman that loves dress comes out again in all her glory, and dashes as she used to do. The fountain of sin was not broken up. They have not purged out iniquity from their heart but they regarded iniquity in their heart all the time.


The reformation produced by a false repentance, is not only a partial reformation, and a temporary reformation, but it is also forced and constrained. The reformation of one who has true repentance is from the heart; he has no longer a disposition to sin. In him the Bible promise is fulfilled. He actually finds that “Wisdom’s ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.” He experiences that the Saviour’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. He has felt that God’s commandments are not grievous but joyous. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. But this spurious kind of repentance is very different: it is a legal repentance, the result of fear and not of love; a selfish repentance, anything but a free, voluntary, hearty change from sin to obedience. You will find individuals that have this kind of repentance do not abstain from sin by choice, because they hate it, but form other considerations. It is more through the forbiddings of conscience, or the fear they shall lose their soul, or lose their hope, or lose their character, than from abhorrence of sin or love to duty.

Such persons always need to crowded up to do duty, with an express passage of scripture, or else they will apologize for sin, and evade duty, and think there is no great harm in doing as they do. The reason is, they love their sins, and if there is not some express command of God which they dare not fly in the face of, they will practice them. Not so with true repentance. If a things seems contrary to the great law of love, the person who has true repentance will abhor it and avoid it of course, whether he has an express command of God for it or not. Show me such a man, and I tell you he doesn’t need an express command to make him give up the drinking or making or vending of strong drink. He sees it is contrary to the great law of benevolence, and he truly abhors it, and would no more do it than he would blaspheme God, or steal, or commit any other abomination.

So the man that has true repentance does not need a “Thus saith the Lord,” to keep him from oppressing his
fellow men, because he would not do anything wrong. Now certainly men would abhor anything of the kind, if they had truly repented of sin.

The Way of Repentance

Before one can repent, he must be made to see the folly of continuing in sin. He must further be made to see and to feel the desirability of turning from sin, and to God. There must be planted within his heart a strong urge to become a child of God. Such is called, in one word, conviction. It is brought about by the preaching of the Word of God and by the convicting influence of the Holy Ghost.

On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter, mightily anointed of God, preached a soul-stirring message. It is said of his hearers, “Now when they heard this they were pricked in their hearts. . . .” They were deeply convicted, genuinely sorry, for what they had done to Jesus.

Was this emotion repentance? No, for godly sorrow is not repentance-it only works (effects) repentance (2
Corinthians 7:10). In answer to their question: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter did not only tell them to be baptized in Jesus’ name and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He said, “REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Genuine repentance contains three great essentials: faith, confession and prayer. Though confession is a part of prayer, it seems good to separate the two here for the sake of clarity.

“He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a REWARDER of them that diligently seek
him” (Hebrews 11:6). Paul said, “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). After hearing a few gospel sermons, most people believe that God would save them if they would
meet His conditions.

The second essential in repentance is a heartfelt confession of sin. Confession, not to any earthly priest,
but to the Lord, for He alone is able to forgive. The third essential is prayer. Such prayer does not have to be vocal, but it usually is. Peter said, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21 ).

How long does it take one to repent? No specified length of time can be given. One person repents
quickly; another takes considerable time. Each one should continue to pray, doing his utmost to exercise faith in God’s promise of forgiveness, until the assurance of forgiveness comes. He will feel the load of
in lifted, and the joy of forgiveness will flood his heart.

Such a person is then ready to be baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
And he is then promised the gift (baptism) of the Holy Ghost. If, as in the case of the household of Cornelius
(Acts 10:44-48), one receives the Holy Ghost before being baptized, he must be baptized in Jesus’ name afterward.

The plan of salvation is found in Acts 2:38. Let us be careful that, in preaching this plan, we do not overlook or minimize its first command: REPENT.



Modern religion, with it’s ever-changing concepts, has left confusion in the minds of many people concerning true repentance. What does the Bible really say? Don’t be satisfied with theories and ideas of men, when you can know the truth about this important subject.


Repentance is a religious term that denotes a redirection of a person’s mind, will and actions as indicated in the Greek word metanoia-a change of mind. Websters Third New International Dictionary.

Repentance is both sorrow for sin and the act of turning away from it. Encyclopedia Americana, Edition 1982, Vol. 21, p. 495.

The turning from sin is emphatically a matter of conduct, but it is also a matter of the heart. A Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings. Edition 1903, Vol. IV, p. 225.

Repentance in the ethico-religious sense is turning away from sin and back to God. Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Edition 1962, Vol. IV, p. 33.

The nature of repentance is not only a turning from, but also a turning to. It will cause a person to stop a wrong action and begin a right one.


Ezekial announced, “Thus sayeth the Lord God; REPENT, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.” Eze. 14:6. John the Baptist preached, “REPENT YE: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mat. 3:2. God COMMANDETH all men everywhere to REPENT. Acts 17:30. “Except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3. (Also, II Peter 3:9.)

Jesus commissioned, as He opened the understanding of His disciples to the Scripture, “That REPENTANCE and REMISSION of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem. “Luke 24:47. In response to the question, “What shall we do?” Peter said, as he fulfilled the Lord’s commission, “REPENT, and be baptized everyone of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:38.

Certainly true repentance is a command of God, and necessary for Divine forgiveness; therefore, it is definitely an important step in God’s wonderful plan of salvation for man.

1. Conviction of Sin Before there can be true repentance, a sinner must have an understanding and acknowledgement that he is guilty of sin. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Ro. 5:12. (Also Ro. 3:23.) “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law (God’s Word).” I John 3:4. Therefore, it is against God (Ps. 51:4) and is punishable by death. (Eze. 18:20.) “For the wages of sin is death; but the Gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Ro. 6:23. A transgressor is also guilty of the blood of Jesus Christ, because the Lord hath laid on Him (Jesus Christ) the iniquity of us all. Is. 53:6. Yet, in Jesus Christ we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1:14. But, unless a sinner repents he will stand condemned before God on judgement day, forever to be lost. (Luke 1 3:3; Jude 15; Rev. 21:8.)

The knowledge of God’s Word will reveal sins in a person’s life, which will bring conviction. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, they that heard God’s Word were pricked (convicted) in their heart. Acts 2;37.

Also experiences of God’s chastisements add to conviction. God said in His Word, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Rev. 3:19. Although conviction of sin brings an uncomfortable feeling of shame and guilt, when followed by true repentance, it will lead to great rejoicing!

2. Godly Sorrow

Feelings of deep sorrow, regret and remorse over sin must accompany an individual’s repentance. One should not sorrow for personal hardship brought on by sin, but rather remorse over the hurt he has caused a loving, forgiving God, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that Ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner. . . For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. . . but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” II Cor. 7:9, 10. (Also Joel 2:12; Ps. 34:18.)

3. Will to Repent

The prodigal son came to himself and said. “l WILL arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” Luke 15:18. If a sinner is willing to repent, God is willing to forgive him of his sins. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19.

4. Plead for Mercy
The first thing David said in his prayer of repentance was, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” Ps. 51:1 . Divine forgiveness is not based upon the accumulated merits of man, but only on the love and mercy of God. “. . . While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Ro. 5:8. “The publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” Luke 18:13. In approaching God, we must cast ourselves without reservation upon His mercy.

5. Confession to God
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper. but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” Pro. 28:13. A person must be honest; admit his sins; confess them openly to God: not to man. John said. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” I John 2:1.

6. Forsake all Sin
Ezekiel said, “Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit.” Eze. 18:31 . Jesus said to the woman taken in adultery, “. . . Go, and SIN NO MORE.” John 8:11 . (Also I Thes. 5:22; II Cor. 6:14-17; I John 2:15-16; Titus 2:11-12.)

Repentance is actually a crucifixion of one’s sinful nature at an alter of self denial. (Ro. 6:6; Mark 8:34.) He must turn from all sin and begin a new life in Christ. Paul wrote, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid,How shall we. that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Ro. 6:1, 2. (Also I John 3:4-9.)

7. Ask God for Forgiveness
After a sinner has surrendered all to God, he should simply ask God to forgive him for all his sins. The Bible said, “Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity (sin).” Ho. 14:2. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9.

8. Receive God’s Forgiveness

To receive God’s forgiveness, you must forgive others. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Mat. 6:1 4. Also, you must forgive yourself and forget your sinful past. Paul said, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13, 14. When you have truly repented, accept God’s forgiveness and praise Him! “Though your sins be as scarlet, they SHALL BE WHITE AS SNOW; though they be like crimson, they SHALL BE AS WOOL” Is. 1:18. “For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy.” Ps. 86:5.

1. Great Joy When the prodigal son repented, there was much rejoicing. Luke 15:23. Jesus said, “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke 15:7. There is great joy in knowing God’s wonderful forgiveness! When the Samaritans gave heed to Philips preaching, there was great joy in that city. Acts 8:5-8.

2. New Birth
Now that the old sinful man is dead through repentance, a believer is ready for the “new birth,” which consists of the two elements, water and spirit. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of WATER and of the SPIRIT, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:5.

a. Water Baptism

Of course, following a death there must be a burial. The old sinful man must be put away. “Therefore we are BURIED with Him (Jesus Christ) BY BAPTISM into death.” Ro. 6:4. (Also Col. 2:12.) Repentance must be followed by water baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ for the REMISSION OF SINS. (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38.) “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling upon the Name of the Lord.” Acts 22:16.

b. Holy Spirit Baptism

The Holy Spirit Baptism is typical of the resurrection of Christ. (Ro. 6:5; 8:11; Col. 2:12.) This completes our “new birth,” and makes us new persons in Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Cor. 5:17. Ezekiel prophesied about this glorious experience, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh . . . and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Eze. 36:26-27. (Also Ro. 5:5; 8:9; 14:17: Acts 1:8.)

Now Peter declared that God gives the Holy Ghost to them that OBEY Him. (Acts 5:32.) If you repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of sins, Peter assured, ” . . . Ye SHALL RECEIVE the gift of the HOLY GHOST. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Acts 2:38-39. Paul said, “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” II Cor. 7:1. He explained, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, (how?) by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5.

3. Total Cleansing
John said, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of
Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I John 1:7. (Also I Pet. 1:19; Rev. 1:5.) When God cleanses us from all sin we are totally clean. It is as though we had never committed a sin. “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” Ps. 103:12.

If you desire a new life in Christ, I urge you to repent of all your sins and experience the wonderful, powerful “new birth” of water and the Spirit! God is willing and waiting to change your life for the better, today! “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE.” II Pet. 3:9.

Article 3
Except Ye Repent
Arthur L. Clanton

Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above, all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:4, 5).

The title of this message is taken from the latter part of the declaration by Jesus: Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Certainly no statement could be plainer than this. The word perish means “to be destroyed; to be ruined or wiped out; to die.” Since all die physically, whether or not they repent, the word perish could not refer to physical death. It must, then, refer to the second death, or eternal perdition. All those who do not repent will spend eternity in the indescribable torments of hell.

In view of this, the importance of genuine repentance could hardly be overemphasized. Further, it is extremely vital that the doctrine of repentance should be taught and preached-that it should be made so plain that no sinner will be in doubt as to what it is, or how to effect it in his own life.

It seems that far too little is said in our preaching concerning this vital doctrine. Much is said about water baptism in Jesus’ name, and about receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost and this is as it should be, for these are both essential-but baptism in Jesus’ name is of no value unless the one being so baptized has first repented, neither can one receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost until he has repented. He may think that he has received this experience; he may even be told by some well-meaning but over-enthusiastic altar worker that he has received the experience, but whatever he receives without repentance is not, cannot possibly be, the real baptism of the Holy Ghost.

What Is Repentance?

Repentance is, primarily, a TURNING AWAY FROM SIN. Thisoccurs when one determines in his heart and mind to utterly forsake all sin. He will perhaps be sitting in a church service, far removed from the actual commission of the sins in which he has indulged, but he surrenders his will, and thoroughly makes up his mind that, by God’s help, he will sin no more. One who does not do this has simply not repented.

Repentance is, secondarily, a TURNING TO GOD FOR FORGIVENESS. Herein lies the marked difference in repentance and reformation. To turn away from some sins is to reform-to turn away from all sin, and to turn to God for forgiveness and cleansing, is to repent.