Consider the following handful of verses (all from the New King James Version, with emphasis added on my part):
“I listened and heard, but they do not speak aright. No man repented of his wickedness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turned to his own course, as the horse rushes into the battle.” (Jeremiah 8:6)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:1-2)
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)
“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3,5)
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5)
The word “repent” is a forgotten one in our culture. This holds true even in Christian circles. We hear much about mercy, grace, love, forgiveness, longsuffering, patience, tolerance, and acceptance but not much about repentance. This has turned our preaching and teaching into a vanilla batch of mush and gush wherein everybody is okay and no one needs to make any real changes in conduct.
The Greek word that gets translated as “repent” is metanoeo. Greek scholars tell us this word literally means “a change of mind.” Consequently, we might say that true repentance is a changing of the mind that leads to a changing of the conduct. Getting the conduct right begins with getting the thinking right.
In the matter of sinners, the Bible uses “repent” in two ways. First, it inseparably links repentance with saving faith in Christ. The idea is that genuine faith in Christ MUST be laced with genuine repentance. You don’t repent, place your faith in Jesus, and then get saved. Instead, the faith that saves oozes repentance. A wonderful passage that shows how repentance and saving faith walk hand in hand is Acts 20:20-21, where Paul says to the Ephesian elders:
…I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (N.K.J.V.)
Second, the Bible uses “repent” in a general way that calls Christians and non-Christians alike to turn from their sins and go in an opposite direction, a direction of holiness. A good verse here would be Luke 3:8, the first part of which quotes Jesus as saying:
“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…” (N.K.J.V.)
And so, in light of all this, I want to close by asking you a very simple question: Have you thoroughly repented of your personal “pet sin”? If you haven’t then consider this God’s way of looking at you right now and saying, “It’s time that you DID!” As someone has pointed out, repentance can never come too soon but it may come too late. Therefore, my advice to you is: Don’t let yours come too late!