What is true repentance?

Too often people think of sin as a mistake or poor judgement, but to a Holy God sin is a big deal. Too often when people that get caught in a sin they casually reply, “oh, sorry”. There is no sorrow from the heart, no desire to change. They do not see themselves guilty before God, sometimes they are sorry they got caught, sometimes because everybody else does it they don’t feel bad. Too often people reason that God expects us to sin, so it can’t be that important.

Remember King David and Bathsheba? That’s right, King David took the beautiful Bathsheba as his wife by having her husband killed. David sinned big time, and after a year God sent his prophet Nathan to confront David and point out the king’s sin. David wrote Psalm 51 as a repentance song. Notice how David confessed, read the sorrow from the heart. How he acknowledged that the sin was foremost a sin against God himself. Here are a few verses of that Psalm.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight. Verses 1-4

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Verses 7-10

So, what is true repentance? Because God is holy, sin is bad, very bad. It is not a simple mistake, but a sin against a holy God. True repentance is a heartfelt sorrow in committing a wrong and then a deep desire to right the wrong if possible. True repentance brings a change of heart so that you will not do the wrong again.