When non-Christians hear Christians talk about repentance, they usually think it’s an attempt by the Christians to call them out for their sins, but the biblical idea of repentance is much bigger than individual sins; repentance is about changing your entire way of life from one outlook, worldview, motives, aims, etc., and substitute that for an entirely new way of being you.

Likewise, when Jesus calls us to “repent and believe in the gospel”, he is less interested in us giving up our vices and bad habits and more interested in us giving up our way of being human and trust him for his way of being human. In this light, repentance is less about sorrow (although sorrow is an important response to our own sin and brokenness, it doesn’t always lead to changed behavior and healing; instead, the Bible tells us that only godly sorrow can lead to repentance – in other words, sorrow for what our sins have cost God) and more about God changing our thoughts, words, and behavior. In fact, the Bible insists that repentance, like faith, is a gift that God gives us out of his deep love for us, changing our hearts to want to turn away from our own plans and sinful behaviors and turn to him for forgiveness, grace, and desire and strength for new obedience.


Aaron Mueller
Chuck Rathert