The Process of Repentance: Turning in a new direction

by Nathan Bailey

True repentance is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25). It cannot occur without a true revelation of my sin. This revelation leads to a godly sorrow, which leads to true repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). False repentance is rooted in self -- shame because of what I have done, or what has happened to me. The Greek word, metamellomai, means regret or sorrow, it is a dread of the consequences, a fear of getting caught. This false repentance just leads to death (2 Corinthians 7:10). True repentance involves a sorrow for what my sin has done to a holy God and my relationship with Him, with the focus on God rather than me.

The repentance process begins with God. He grants a revelation (apokalupsis = revealing the hidden -> lifting the veil of my mind) of my position, which leads to a new understanding (metanoia = after knowledge), or change of thinking. Finally, this new way of thinking leads to a change in direction, or turning about (epistepho).

Judas is an example of one who followed the path of metamellomai. He had true sorrow and regret for what he had done (Matthew 27:3), but it was self-focused -- he regretted that his plans had not come to fruition. In his case, this sorrow quite literally led to his death, and he hanged himself (Matthew 27:5).

In contrast, the penitent thief followed the path of metanoia. He realized his sin, and accepted the consequences as just, recognized Christ's sinlessness and in a marvelous expression of faith (as one man on a cross to another also on a cross!) asked Jesus to remember him in His kingdom (Luke 23:40-42). Similarly, those to whom Peter preached on the day of Pentecost were "pierced to the heart" (Acts 2:37) with the revelation of their sin and need for Christ. Many responded that day, receiving his word and being baptized (Acts 2:41). Acts 2:42-47 speaks of the change of lifestyle for these committed disciples.

Further reading

Read about overcoming secret sin, healthy sexuality or other essays on Christianity - covering hell, sex, drinking, gambling, smoking and tithing!

© Copyright 1998-2012, Nathan Bailey, All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to print these articles for personal use, in whole or in part, provided the extract references the original URL,, so that people can find the latest version.
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