We have all broken God’s law and sinned (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8, 10). Only appealing to His grace and forgiveness can absolve us of sin. God desires to forgive our sins and extend grace to a heart that repents. The scripture says He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). We have redemption through His blood, which forgives sins, and the richness of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).
Paul gives us the difference between someone who is truly repentant of sin and someone who is just sorry they were caught. 2 Corinthians 7:8-13 explains this and lists seven signs of true repentance. Paul said there is a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow brings death and destruction but Godly sorrow brings repentance and salvation (v. 10). Godly sorrow owns up to the sin and wants to repent of it to God and those it’s hurt, make it right, and make steps to never do it again. A repentant heart chooses Christ because it knows how horrible the sin was against God and also how horrible God’s justice against that sin will be.
So how do you know you or someone else has truly repented and honestly trying to get out of that sin? How can you begin to trust them again?
Here are seven signs or fruits of repentance found in 2 Corinthians 7:11.
• First is earnestness. They are aggressively pursuing righteousness. They are sincere about getting free from sin and aren’t justifying or arguing their case any longer. They are genuine and sincere about being more Christ-like.
• Second, they want to clear themselves. This isn’t paying for their own sin, they don’t want to hide their sin but have it removed at all costs. They are an open book about the sin and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure it is gone.
• Thirdly, is indignation — anger at sin. Their attitude toward sin is one of hate. Sin isn’t wrong because they were found out or someone told them but because they know it hurt their relationship with God and God Himself. They know sin is a real killer, as it killed Jesus on the cross.
• Fourthly, they have alarm or fear. Their eyes are open to keep from sinning again. They have set up boundaries and precautions. They have a holy fear of God’s wrath towards sin as well. The good news is Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the cross and our sins can be forgiven.
• Fifthly, is a longing or desire to be in perfect relationship with God. They want to have a rich, full, growing relationship with Jesus. They are quick to repent and look more and more like Christ in their character.
• Number six is zeal or passion to serve and live for Him.
• Lastly they desire to avenge sin. They know they can’t pay for their own sins but they desire to make all wrongs right. These signs, Paul says, leads us to “being innocent in the matter” (end of verse 12). It isn’t pretending the sin never happened but resting in the blood, suffering, and cleansing work of Jesus death on the cross. Repentance also means living a life that hates and fights against sin to live zealously and purely for Christ.
Stephen Harrison is associate pastor of Family Church at White Hall.
Editor’s note: Pastors or associate pastors interested in writing for this section may submit articles to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your phone number and the name and location of your church or ministry.