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Session 9

Repentance is more than being sorry

Read: 1 Samuel 6

When Jesus began His ministry, the first verb He put in front of His followers was “repent.” 

Repentance isn’t just guilt or regret. We can be sorry for the consequences of our actions, but not change our heart or examine how we think and believe. Our thoughts and convictions produce our actions, for good or evil. 

In 1 Samuel 6, a group of Philistines chose a path, faced the consequences, and turned to a different way. These Philistines changed their behavior, which was admirable, but they weren’t motivated by genuine repentance. They changed because they were afraid of consequences.

The Philistines were motivated by fear of God, but they didn’t know God. Still, the Philistines did three things we can do when we know we’re wrong:

  1. Admit we’re wrong.
  2. Try to make it right.
  3. Don’t do it again!

Genuine repentance, motivated by a desire to please God and turn away from sin, will lead us to ask for help — “I know I’ve done wrong, so how can I make this right?” 

Genuine repentance also leads us to do everything we can to right our wrongs. The Bible teaches that Christians should be known as people who “dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1). 

Genuine repentance is about changing your mind.

Finally, genuine repentance is about changing your mind, moving away from thinking that leads to sin and moving toward thinking that lines up with the Bible. Repentance causes us to learn from mistakes so we’re less likely to repeat them in the future. 

The Philistines were motivated to change because they feared a God they were far away from. We can be motivated to change because God draws close to us in our need, always willing to help, mend the relationship, and equip us to live an abundant life.

Reflect: 

  • When was the last time a mistake motivated you to change? What did you learn from that experience?
  • Is there anything you need to repent of today?

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