After a deeper study of repentance in the original language, I think we’ve got it wrong.
I was reading today in Acts 2 and 3 from a newer translation. Two scriptures stood out:
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:37-38, emphasis mine)
“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.” (Acts 3:19, emphasis mine)
You hear this term quite often, “Repent of your sins,” implying that repentance of sins is a turning away from sins, to stop sinning. But, I don’t think that’s what the original language was implying. If you search through a more accurate word-for-word translation (KJV or NKJV), you can’t find a single instance of Jesus saying, “Repent of your sins.” He never said that. He said, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
Look at the original Greek word for “repent” – metanoeo. It comes from two root words, “meta” and “noeo”.
Meta means an over-arching change. There’s a difference between “morphing” and “meta-morphing”. Morphing is changing from within something similar. Meta-morphing, on the other hand, is changing from a caterpillar to a butterfly. It’s an over-arching change–a broader, more high-level change.
“Noeo” is where we get the word Knowledge. It means to think, to perceive, to understand.
So, combine the two meta-noeo, and you have a word that means “an over-arching change in how you understand or perceive”.
The message Jesus had for us was not “stop sinning so that you change your thinking” – his message was “change the way you think and you’ll stop sinning”.
What most people miss today is that our sins are dealt with, done, covered, taken care of. Jesus died “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10) and provided “eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12). He no longer has to die for your sins. All your sins (past, present and future) were taken care of once and for all.
Now that are sins are gone, we need to repent.
Prayer: Father, help me realize that all of my sins are gone, dealt with, cleansed. In Christ, I am fully and completely accepted by you. Teach me how to change my worldly perspective to a Kingdom perspective. Teach me to see you more clearly.