Last month we looked at the meaning of the Greek word for repent – metanoeo (met tah noh EH oh). We found it to be a change of mind and action, not just a change of feeling.
But who will repent? A wise man? According to the ancient Stoic philosophers, wise men are above repentance, since repentance is an admission of being wrong. Epictetus said, “Not repenting is the mark of a wise man.”
A righteous man? According to Jesus, “righteous men have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7). Naturally then, people who perceive themselves as wise and righteous will refuse to repent.
Who will repent? The lost man! Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). So a man must first see himself as lost be¬fore he can repent.
If a man repents, what comes next? According to the New Testament, repentance is preliminary to at least three things. First, repentance precedes faith. Every time these two words are linked in the New Testament, repentance comes first (cf. Mark 1:5; Acts 20:21; Heb 6:1). Before a man can really make the commitment of life (faith) to Jesus Christ, he must first give up on himself (repentance).
Second, repentance precedes worthy fruit. Early preachers insisted that those who repented had to show it ¬in the way they lived (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:20). If there was no change in lifestyle, there was no repentance.
Third, repentance precedes forgiveness of sin. While forgiveness of sin is said to result from a number of things, scripturally, one thing stands out above the rest. More often than the blood, more often than baptism, more often than believing, it is repentance that is linked with forgiveness.
Remember the words of our Lord, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5).