Repent and Believe a New Thing
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The common, Biblical understanding of repentance is to turn away from sin. When a believer repents, they often experience feelings of regret or remorse followed by a sincere intention to behave as a Christ-follower should. It’s often combined with asking God for the forgiveness of wrongdoing or trespass.
This interpretation and understanding of repentance is certainly valid, but it’s common to get stuck in a feeling of guilt or shame that appears like “repentance” but is really just self-abuse.
However, when we look at the meaning of the word, there arises another way to view repentance that is more transformational—experiencing more and more wholeness; rather than transactional—”if I feel remorse, God will forgive me.”
What Does it Mean to Repent?
Most etymological sources trace the origin of the English word repent to the Old French word repentir (re-, in response + Latin pentire, to be sorry), to feel regret for sins or crimes. Other sources trace it to the Greek word poenere, meaning to suffer or feel pain. With these definitions in mind, it makes sense that our Christian understanding of repentance would involve such actions and feelings. But let’s take a look at the New Testament Greek.
The New Testament word for repent is actually two Greek words: Meta and Noia. The word meta has several meanings, but when used as a prefix it most commonly means “change” or “alter.” Think of the word metamorphosis, to change shape or transform. The second word, noia, means “thought” or “thinking.” For example, paranoia, to have abnormal or obsessive thoughts.
When the two Greek words for repentance are combined, we get the word metanoia: to have a change of thinking or to change one’s thinking. With this understanding of the Greek, let’s test it out by looking at some Bible verses.
Bible Verses About Repentance
There are dozens of verses in the New Testament that use the Greek word for repent, but we’ll just list a few.
Acts 3:19 – Repent (change your thinking) therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out,
Matthew 3:2 – Repent (change your thinking), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Acts 17:30 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (change their thinking),
Acts 20:21 – Testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance (a change of thinking) toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Mark 1:15 – And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (change your thinking) and believe in the gospel.”
This last verse is perhaps one of my favorites when it comes to thinking about repentance differently (or repenting of our understanding of repentance!). After John the Baptist was arrested, Jesus began His formal ministry with this declaration:
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
The gospel John the Baptist had been preaching was that the Kingdom of God was coming and the Messiah was near. When he and Jesus urged people to repent and believe the gospel, they were urging them to change the way they formerly thought about salvation and believe this new thing (or rather, very old thing that had gotten lost in translation).
What Does Repentance Look Like on a Daily Basis?
Outside of salvation, repentance is something we are encouraged to do regularly. The next time you are feeling the sting of regret or remorse for something you’ve said or done, instead of letting shame or guilt flood your mind, try asking yourself this question: “is there something I am thinking or believing that is leading me to this behavior, and how might I change that thought so that I can live out the abundant life I desire?”
As an inner healing prayer ministry in Chandler AZ, we at Agave Sozo have seen the power of this kind of repentance to set people free.
“Recently I had a Sozo Session with Sheryl. I came in because I was being bombarded with feelings of jealousy and shame. I simply couldn’t shake these emotions. The Sozo tools Sheryl used were amazing and I was absolutely blown away. I felt like God took me to such a deep place, uncovering years of pride, envy, insecurity and shame. Layer upon layer of emotional and mental baggage just fell off and in the end I was able to not only hear wonderful things that God was speaking over me, but I FELT His love and His peace and His joy in a way that I had never before in my life experienced. Even to this day I am touched as I remember the way God spoke to me during this prayer time. Through my years as a Christian, I have been someone who loves to get prayer for inner healing. I have had many hours of counseling and prayer, with the goal of walking in peace and joy with the Lord. Every time I receive Sozo Ministry, I find myself catapulted to a new level of peace. I highly recommend Sozo Ministry to anyone and everyone —whether you are a Christian or not, whether you have had counseling or not. You will walk away like me—feeling freer, lighter, more filled with joy and closer to God’s heart. It will be life-changing!”