{Lessons Learned} Repentance Can Be a Process

Posted on: March 28th, 2013 by Laurie Coombs 5 Comments

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. – Martin Luther, The 95 Theses

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In one of my letters to Anthony, I wrote, “I simply believe that we all need to take full responsibility for our actions and blame-shifting isn’t representative of that! Until we come to this point of taking full responsibility for our actions, I don’t believe we can come to a place of true repentance.

I still believe this to be true. But I now know that repentance can take time.

Though God is certainly able to bring us to repentance quickly, it seems to me that repentance is, oftentimes, a process. [Tweet that] This was certainly the case with Anthony, and I’ve found this to be true both in my life and in the lives of other Christians as well.


Now, I think it’s important to understand repentance before we go much farther. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word repent means 1. to change one’s mind or 2. to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.

That definition certainly sums it up, but it seems weighty to me and difficult to apply to our lives. Couple Strong’s Concordance’s definition with the way my pastor likes to put it. He describes repentance like this:

  • You’re walking in sin, away from God.
  • You’re convicted of your sin by the Holy Spirit.
  • And then you repent, or take a 180 degree turn, away from your sin, toward Jesus.

This is repentance.

Repentance Can Be a Process

As said before, repentance can happen quickly. But sometimes it takes time to get through the process.

Sometimes when the Holy Spirit shows us our sin, we’re not ready or willing to face it. We justify ourselves, claiming we’re not completely in the wrong or not wrong at all. Essentially, we’re not willing to see our sin.

Yet, hopefully, at some point, we come to a point of conviction. We see our fault. We stop justifying our sin. But, it can take a while to come to this place, to understand the depth of our sin.

In a perfect world, with perfect people, we would turn from our sins quickly (and I certainly pray we do this). But in all reality, there are times God patiently and slowly draws us back to Himself through a process that leads us to repent. [Tweet that]

Don’t Delay Repenting

So, it is true. Repentance can be a process. But, this does not give us license to delay repenting. It is imperative to repent when shown our sin, for sin separates us from God and an unrepentant sinner will never live the life Jesus died for us to have.

I love what Martin Luther says in the first of his 95 theses. He said, “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”

The fact of the matter is that we will never be perfect in this life. We will sin. But the mark of a true follower of Christ is repentance. [Tweet that] When we sin, we repent. It’s a rhythm that should course throughout our lives.

We sin. We repent.

We sin. We repent.

We sin. We repent.

So, I would like to encourage each of us (myself included) to submit to Jesus and come to repentance quickly when convicted of our sin.

I’ll leave you with the parable of the two sons. Notice in this passage the sin of each son. And see repentance in action.

[Jesus said] “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. – Matthew 21:28-32

{Repentance can be a process.}

Question: What has your experience been with repentance? Share in the comments

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  • Mothering From Scratch

    {Melinda} Such a beautiful post … What comes to mind for me was that for a long time I was in a cycle of anger and impatience with my kids. It was really not about them — it was about unhealed wounds inside of me. I would feel such regret after an episode of losing my temper. But then I would find myself right back doing the same thing. Finally, I came to the end of myself. And said, “God, I can’t do this anymore. I want to change. My relationships with my children (esp. my daughter) are suffering. Help me to change.” It was not instantaneous. And it was the most incredibly painful period of repentance, healing and true change. I’m still imperfect, but SO far from where I was in this area. God did what I could not. His Holy Spirit can work when we give him a repentant heart that is willing to be teachable.

    • Coming to the end of ourselves is such a beautiful (yet tremendously difficult) place to be! Thank you for sharing, Melinda!!!