What is Genuine Repentance?


Real repentance is sorrow for the deed, not for being caught.

Paul wrote a letter to the Church at Corinth:

2 Cor 7:8-10 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it--I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while--yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

There is a tremendous difference in being sorry that I sinned and being sorry that I got caught sinning, or that someone got hurt when I sinned. Often those whose sins destroy other lives are terribly sorry for the consequences of their sin, but fail to turn away from the sin itself. Examples of this might be the drunk who, having caused someone's death while driving while intoxicated, drinks to dull the guilt. Or the man who, having destroyed his home by having an affair, seeks comfort and consolation in the arms of another illicit lover.

Matt 27:3-5 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. "I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood." "What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility." So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The remorse that Judas experienced was doubtless a result of seeing the consequences of his sin. Instead of repenting with Godly repentance [as Peter did after denying Jesus], he commits suicide.

Luke 15:17-20 When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' So he got up and went to his father. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The prodigal son illustrates genuine repentance of sin. He turned his back on the sin and went home, begging, not demanding, forgiveness from the Father.

Acts 26:20. . .also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Will you genuinely repent of your sins and return to the father seeking forgiveness?