A. It is not reformation.

Repentance is wholly an inward act of the mind. To many people it means to turn away from their sins, but this would only be reformation. Repentance is not doing something. A man can turn away from his sins and still not be a Christian.

B. It is not Penance.

Penance is an act of sorrow to pay for sin. Many people in different religions do many things they call penance. They offer sacrifices, personally torture themselves, pay money to have religious leaders pray for them, personally pray for long periods of time, repeat prayers with prayer beads, go to confessionals and confess their sins to religious people and go through certain religious rituals, all hoping to get rid of their sins.

C. It is not contrition.

By this we mean that repentance is not feeling sorry for our sins and receiving forgiveness. Many people in prison feel sorry for what they did, but this does not erase the crime. Real repentance does include sorrow for sin, but just being sorry for sin is not repentance but can lead to repentance. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” II Corinthians 7:10.

D. It is a change of mind, not a change of opinion.

True repentance is a change of mind that will lead to a change of action, but remember, you can have a change of action without a change of mind. Matthew 21:28-29 is a good example. Before anyone can be saved there must be a change of mind about many things including, sin, self, God and Jesus Christ. In reality, repentance is really taking a stand against our “old self” and placing ourselves on the side of God.

E. It is a work of God.

Repentance is God convicting us of our need for a savior because of our burden of sin. God begins to work on our conscience through conviction, and we decide that a choice must be made. We either make a decision to follow Him, or we continue the way that we are going. To change direction we must repent and call upon Him to save us. That decision will result in a change of mind concerning our relationship with God. Four things will be evidenced in true repentance. There will be a change of intellect, a change of feelings, a change of will and a change of action.

A person, who is walking down the road of life lost and confused, looking for directions best illustrates real repentance. Suddenly something gets his attention. As he hears God’s Word, he stops and realizes he is going the wrong way. The choice is now his – keep going or turn around. Repentance is when he turns around and goes the other way. You make a decision to go God’s way.