Christians are called to seek forgiveness for their sins — something that was made freely available by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Repentance is an essential act that is covered throughout the New Testament scriptures, with believers embracing Jesus’ sacrifice and making a concerted effort to change their ways.
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At its core, repentance is a routine act that includes not only an admission of wrongdoing, but also a pledge to do better. According to Merriam-Webster, the repentance definition is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life.”
Since every human being sins, Christ’s death offers forgiveness to all those who are willing to engage in repentance. The Bible makes this clear again and again.
Forgiveness and repentance are fixtures in the Old and New Testaments, alike, with the theme resonating throughout the entirety of the biblical narrative. Here are just 12 of the key places where the Bible indicates that forgiveness and repentance are key:
Jesus Commands Repentance
Jesus himself made it clear that repentance is key, urging people to turn to God to ask for forgiveness for their sins:
“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” - Matthew 4:17 (NIV)
Like Jesus, John the Baptist also warned that the end was drawing nearer and that it was, thus, essential to repent:
“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” - Matthew 3:1-3 (NIV)
Repent, Don’t Hide Sins
The Bible also speaks of the importance of not hiding one’s sins, noting that an admission of wrongdoing can help people find “mercy.”
“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” - Proverbs 28:13
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” - Luke 15:7 (NIV)
Repentance Leads to Wiping Away of Sins
By admitting one’s sins and repenting, it is possible to be spiritually refreshed and rejuvenated.
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” - Acts 3:19 (NIV)
“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” - 2 Timothy 2:25
“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” - Ezekiel 18:21-23 (NIV)
A Failure to Repent Can Be Damaging
According to the Bible, there are consequences to refusing to repent one’s sins.
“But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” - Romans 2:5 (NIV)
“But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” - Luke 13:3 (NIV)
God is Faithful and Just
Repentance and, in turn, forgiveness, show God’s love for us through his willingness to purify us from our poor choices and sins.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” - 1 John 1:9 (NIV)
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” - John 3:16 (NIV)
Based on the scriptures, it’s clear that God made a way for salvation — and forgiveness. That way is paved with acts of repentance, with the Bible repeatedly telling us that we should embrace Jesus’ sacrifice and speak to God about our wrongs.
This is as simple as speaking to the Lord directly and repenting of our sins. This shouldn’t be done out of mere fear, but with heartfelt sorrow. God calls us to Him, and repentance is simply the repeated act of answering that call.
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