When we mess up and make mistakes – it’s human to feel “bad” or guilty.
But personal guilt is different from true repentance – and it’s critical to know the difference.
So what does true repentance really look like?
Hatred Of Sin
A truly repentant person hates their sin.
They realize that, because of their actions, they’ve not only sinned against another human being – but they’ve sinned against God.
When we truly remember the holiness of God – and His perfection – our sin should horrify us.
Sin is deadly and it must be slayed at the altar.
“And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Isaiah 6:5
Of course, the good news is as believers, when we truly repent, God will erase our sins – and forgive and cleanse us from our unrighteousness.
A Turn From Sin
If a person says “I’m sorry” but then continues to do the same hurtful thing – they may not have truly repented.
Ideally, a repentant person would choose to do all three.
It takes a humble heart to admit one has messed up – and it’s only in our genuine humility that God can restore and create a clean heart.
As Christians, we are called to forgive one another – but we must not demand others forgive us when we’ve sinned against them.
Everyone grieves differently – and if a person was wronged by us, they may need time to heal in their own way.
Manipulating a person to forgive us by threatening them is not a sign of true repentance.
Instead, give the person space and respect their boundaries – all while continuing to pray for them.
Accept The Consequences
Even if one is forgiven by God and others – there are still consequences for sin.
Sometimes God spares a person from receiving the due earthly consequences caused by their sin – but other times He allows them to happen.
If a person steals from their employer or embezzles money – they may truly have repented and made amends – but there could still be jail time.
Or if a spouse cheats – the offended spouse could choose to reconcile – or choose to separate or divorce.
A person who is truly repentant understands that sin always carries consequences, and they’re prepared to accept those consequences for their behavior.
Focus On Your Own Walk
And finally – make sure to keep the focus on your own walk with God.
Don’t worry about another person’s repentance progress – they will walk that journey with God.
Instead, take daily inventories of your own life – and ask God to renew your heart each day.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17
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