Did you ever wonder why Jesus instantly dramatically changes some people’s lives, while others struggle with their faith and with the same issues for years? I am convinced that it often has to do with whether or not they have experienced true or false repentance.
True repentance is “an inner change of mind resulting in an outward turning around; to face and to move in a completely new direction.” There is a godly sorrow that accompanies true repentance. We find ourselves truly sorry that our sin has grieved the heart of a holy God. This sorrow will produce true repentance; a willingness to change our actions. When we experience true repentance, we can enjoy the forgiveness and the freedom that Jesus gives us.
There is, however, such a thing as false repentance. False repentance is repenting for any other reason except that God is worthy of our complete obedience. For example, children who are caught doing something wrong by their parents may regret they were caught without ever feeling truly sorry for disobeying their parents. This is false repentance, which in reality, is not repentance at all.
How many times have we been guilty of doing the same thing? If we are only sorry that “we got caught” instead of genuinely being sorry for grieving the heart of God, then we have not truly repented. That means we cannot experience God’s forgiveness and freedom. 2 Corinthians 7:10 tells us that godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
The Bible says that Judas, who betrayed Jesus, repented. But he did not experience true repentance. His “repentance” was only remorse and regret. Just being sorry is not enough. We must trust God to completely change us inside. When we truly repent, Jesus’ blood cleanses us from our sin and we can go on to live a new life in a new way. True repentance means that we realize we have sinned against a holy God and our inner change of mind results in a change in our direction. And this brings true freedom!