Repentance

Concise Bible Dictionary:

The idea conveyed in this term is of great importance from the fact of its application not only to man but to God, showing how God, in His government of the earth, is pleased to express His own sense of events taking place upon it. This does not clash with His omniscience. There are two senses in which repentance on the part of God is spoken of.
2. As to punishment which He has threatened, or blessing He has promised. When Israel turned from their evil ways and sought God, He often repented of the punishment He had meditated (2 Sam. 24:1616And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite. (2 Samuel 24:16)). On the other hand, the promises to bless Israel when in the land were made conditionally on their obedience, so that God would, if they did evil, turn from or repent of the good that He had said He would do, either to Israel or in fact to any nation (Jer. 18:8-108If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. 9And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them. (Jeremiah 18:8‑10)). He would alter the order of His dealings towards them, and as to Israel He said, “I am weary with repenting” (Jer. 15:66Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. (Jeremiah 15:6)). In all this the responsibility of man is concerned, as well as the divine government.
Repentance has been described as “a change of mind Godward that leads to a judgment of self and one’s acts” (1 Kings 8:4747Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; (1 Kings 8:47); Ezek. 14:66Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations. (Ezekiel 14:6); Matt. 3:22And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2); Matt. 9:1313But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13); Luke 15:77I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7); Acts 20:2121Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21); 2 Cor. 7:9-109Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:9‑10); etc.). This would not be possible but for the thought of mercy in God. It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance (Rom. 2:44Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)).

From Anstey’s Doctrinal Definitions:

Repentance is to have a changed mind about a wrong course that we have been on, and to have passed our judgment on it. J. N. Darby's Translation footnote on Matthew 3:88Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8) says, "Repentance denotes the moral judgment of the soul upon all the past, upon all that is in the flesh before God. It includes, but goes further than a changed mind." The Concise Bible Dictionary states, "Repentance has been described as 'a change of mind Godward that leads to a judgment of self and one's acts" (p. 658).
Confession is an act, but repentance is a process that should carry on throughout the believer's life after he is saved. Luke 15:77I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7) says, "I say unto you, that thus there shall be joy in heaven for one repenting sinner." Note: it doesn’t say, "repented," but "repenting"—thus indicating that it is something that should continue on in a believer’s life. In fact, if we were to cease repenting about a wrong thing or a wrong course that we have been on, we would no longer be holding our judgment upon it, and thus turning back to it in heart. This does not mean that we are to go around moping and live in sorrow for wrongs that we have done, but rather, to go on our way rejoicing, holding a changed mind and a conviction of judgment against that particular thing or course. In 2 Corinthians 7:1010For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10), we have the principle of repentance stated. The Corinthians' repentance was "never to be repented of." That is, they were not to change their mind about their repentance, because in doing so they would be going back to their wrongs. Thus, the older we get and the longer we have been on the Christian path, the deeper our hatred should be of the sins that we have committed—but we are not to be occupied with those things; the believer’s normal occupation is Christ and His interests.
Repentance is produced in men by “the goodness of God” touching their hearts (Rom. 2:44Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)). When the prodigal son thought on the goodness of his father, it led him to change his mind about his father, and to pass judgment on himself (Luke 15:17-1917And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (Luke 15:17‑19)). Unfortunately, repentance is a word that has lost its Scriptural meaning in the minds of many today. Some of the confusion has resulted from the bad teaching that has been in the Christian profession for years. Some examples are:
•  Repentance is not penance. Penance is the effort of man to atone for his wrongs.
•  Repentance is not confession. Some mistakenly think that if they apologize for some wrong done, that they are repenting. However, it’s possible to make a confession, and not be truly repentant.
•  Repentance is not reformation. Reformation has more to do with an outward change, the turning over of a new leaf in an attempt to supplant bad habits with good ones. Although those things will spring from repentance, they are not repentance. God is not asking us to make solemn promises that we don’t have the power to keep.
•  Repentance is not penitence. Penitence is sorrow for sin. This might result in repentance, but sorrow itself is not repentance.
Repentance should seen in the sinner who comes to Christ for salvation and it should also be seen in a failing believer who gets restored to the Lord (Acts 20:2121Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21); Rev. 2:55Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. (Revelation 2:5), etc.). The KJV says that Judas “repented,” but it should say that he was “filled with remorse.” He was not repentant. True repentance has its fruits. These are tell-tale signs that a person will manifest. John the Baptist stated this to the unrepentant Pharisees who came to him. He said, “Bring forth therefore fruits meet [worthy] of repentance” (Matt. 3:88Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8)). Naomi illustrates the marks of true repentance.
She got back to the point of her departure (Ruth 1:1919So they two went until they came to Bethlehem. And it came to pass, when they were come to Bethlehem, that all the city was moved about them, and they said, Is this Naomi? (Ruth 1:19)). She went to “Bethlehem,” the very place from which she and her husband had come when they lived in the land of Israel. This illustrates the need of getting down to the root of our failure and judging it.
She manifested a spirit of genuine brokenness and humility. She said, “Call me not Naomi, call me Mara.” Mara means “bitter.” Thus, she indicated a bitterness of soul concerning her course (Ruth 1:2020And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. (Ruth 1:20); Psa. 51:1717The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalm 51:17)).
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Scripture indicates that God Himself repents, but not, of course, in the same way in which failing men do. Since repentance means to have a changed mind, God can and does change His mind from time to time. But with God, repentance never has to do with passing judgment on Himself, because He never does anything wrong.
When it comes to God’s purposes, He never repents (Num. 23:1919God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19); 1 Sam. 15:2929And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent: for he is not a man, that he should repent. (1 Samuel 15:29)). But as to His ways with men, He does repent (Gen. 6:6-76And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. (Genesis 6:6‑7); 1 Sam. 15:1111It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the Lord all night. (1 Samuel 15:11)). Oftentimes God’s repentance is in connection with, and contingent upon, man’s repentance. When God sees true repentance with men on whom He has pronounced a judgment, He may repent of it, and not execute the judgment (Ex. 32:1414And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people. (Exodus 32:14); Judg. 2:1818And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. (Judges 2:18); 1 Chron. 21:1515And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite. (1 Chronicles 21:15); Psa. 90:13; 106:44-4513Return, O Lord, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants. (Psalm 90:13)
44Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry: 45And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies. (Psalm 106:44‑45)
; Jer. 18:88If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. (Jeremiah 18:8); Joel 2:1313And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. (Joel 2:13); Jonah 3:9-109Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? 10And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (Jonah 3:9‑10)). Such is the mercy of God.