Learning to Repent

The Scripture says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. Look at Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.” It is also important to understand that when in the New Testament uses the word repent, it means “to change your mind" or “to take a new mind” on the matter.

The word in Greek is metanoia. Wikipedia summarizes the work of Edward J. Anton in Repentance: A Cosmic Shift of Mind and Heart, as follows: “Anton observes that in the minds of most Christians the primary meaning of ‘repent’ is to look back on past behavior with sorrow, self-reproach, or contrition, sometimes with an amendment of life. But neither Jesus nor John the Baptist says to look back in sorrow. For St Paul, ‘metanoia is a transfiguration for your brain that opens a new future.”


This is why so many great theologians feel that the translation of the word metanoia as “repent” in English, is the greatest mistranslation in the New Testament. Our English word “repent” has us always looking back and trying to ask God for forgiveness in an attempt to be in right standing with Him. But this is not the gospel that Paul taught. The gospel is forward-looking. Jesus wants you to be living in the present and looking to the future that He has for you. He asked you to believe Him and to believe who you are in Him. For this to be possible, He’s forgiven all your sins: past, present and future — once and for all. When you believe that you are truly forgiven, your mind changes dramatically. The way you pray, the way you live, and the way you worship changes permanently.

You must therefore be clear in your heart of who you are in Christ so that your mind can be renewed. Transformation is effortless. Your new thinking is based on what you know in your spirit to be true. So the key then is to be certain about what you believe Jesus did for you at the cross. This clarity in your heart will inform your mind. 

ArticleDionne van Zyl