The Components of Genuine Repentance


The title of this post implies that there is a kind of repentance that is not genuine. Sadly, this counterfeit repentance is rampant in many gospel presentations and in the belief of many today. This is devastating because counterfeit repentance is of no value.

I have heard many people “lead” individuals to Christ by telling them they are sinners, getting them to admit their sinners, and then to simply ask them to pray a prayer of asking Jesus into their hearts, and then their told, “you’re now saved!” What about repentance?

Some might go a little deeper and call for people to be sorry for their sin, or even to stop sinning. But is this repentance genuine? In this post I would like to consider the components of genuine repentance.

Genuine repentance involves the use of one’s intellect, emotions and volition. Or to put it another way, repentance will involve action from the head, heart, and hands.

Recognition of Personal Sin
This first component of the repentance involves the intellect. When one sins and repents, the individual is to recognise that what they have done is sin. This is the thought process of understanding that what was done by the individual is an actual sin and therefore it is a transgression against God. The temptation is for people to persuade themselves that was done was not actually sin. Genuine repentance will include the recognition of personal sin. 

Remorse for Personal Sin
Once somebody truly recognises that what he or she has done is sinful, the true process of repentance leads to remorse for his or her personal sin. This remorse involves an actual sorrow and regret for the transgression. This remorse occurs because the individual is persuaded in their mind that they sinned. This genuine kind of remorse is called “godly grief” () in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Counterfeit repentance may involve grief, but it is nothing more than a “worldly grief” (). 

Repulsion of Personal Sin
The next emotional (or internal) component is a repulsion of personal sin. This involves an intense hatred and disgust of the sin committed. This hatred is fuelled by the passion and desire to be holy as the Lord is holy. The holiness of God unmasks the sin for what it is. As the repentant individual’s eyes are firmly fixed upon the Lord, their love for Him results in a hatred of the sin. Counterfeit repentance doesn’t hate the sin because it is against the Holy character of God; they hate the sin because somehow it hasn’t satisfied their selfish desire.

Renouncing of Personal Sin
The fourth component is one of volition. It is the renouncing of personal sin. This is the act of renouncing and turning from the sin. Once this act of sin occurs, the individual pursues that which is according to the will of God (cf. ). It is the practical action of casting the sinful behaviour aside so as to walk in the will of God.

Repentance is a great gift that God grants a sinner and is practiced throughout the life of a believer. Let us be faithful to Scripture in our presentation and practice of the doctrine of repentance.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

What is Repentance?

Wrong Way Imagine the horrifying experience of driving on the wrong side of a busy road, and then to be confronted with a sign, “Wrong Way, Go Back”. The sign is designed to warn you of the potential danger ahead and the necessary action to be done so as to avoid the potential harm. Though such a sign may be startling, it is actually very gracious and helpful.

Such an illustration reveals a real danger, but there is a greater danger than going the wrong way on a busy road that every human being faces. What is it? It is the danger of dying without your sins being forgiven. We have all sinned () and the consequence of such treason against our Creator is to receive eternal judgment from Him (). However, in His great grace, God has made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and to become His children. Our only hope is the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. The means in which we take hold of salvation in Christ is by the God’s gift of repentance and faith. Repentance and faith belong together in the conversion experience – they are two sides of a single coin. In the words of Sinclair Ferguson,

“We cannot separate turning from sin in repentance and coming to Christ in faith. They describe the same person in the same action, but from different perspectives.” [1]

So then, what is repentance? Repentance is a gift that God grants a sinner, by means of the Holy Spirit, in which the individual comes to the realization that they have sinned; they are filled with remorse and repulsion concerning that sin, and then they renounce the sin by turning from it to God. Repentance is necessary for salvation and is to be practiced throughout the Christian life. In a series of future posts, I would like to look in the matters concerning the components of genuine repentance, the necessity of repentance, the freedom of repentance and the practice of daily repentance.

[1] Faith and Repentance by Sinclair Ferguson

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

The Earth is the Lord’s – Part 2


Knowing that the earth is the Lord’s (; ), what does this mean for us?

On the sixth day of creation, God created man. Why did God create him? He created man for His own glory. God did not need to create man, but out of His own good pleasure He chose to create man. This gracious creative act was for God’s own glory (cf. ). This means, it was for His sake, not for ours. In other words, we do not exist for us but we exist for God. That is why Paul says, “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (). This is done because He is worthy to receive this glory:

“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created” ().

The greatest responsibility of any person is that they give glory to God. When this does not take place we are sinning. To not glorify God is to glorify man and this is a terrible sin. A W Pink insightfully noted,

“Something more than a theoretical knowledge of God is needed by us. God is only truly known in the soul as we yield ourselves to Him, submit to His authority, and regulate all the details of our lives by His holy precepts and commandments”.

After considering the fact that the Lord is the Creator, we need to understand that we owe Him our all. However, we need to acknowledge that we are sinners an unworthy of entering into His favourable presence. This is why we need the forgiveness of our sins which is found exclusively in His Son Jesus Christ.

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;

24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,

everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”