Repentance vs. Penance

I know that I haven’t been consistently been posting and I don’t want it to turn into a thing where we have one post a week and its about Lost. The cause for this is that the Lord has seen fit that I should have to endure the fire in my last semester in order to graduate. One thing that I’ve had to do was write a 12 page paper about Repentance vs. Penance on Saturday. I strapped myself into my desk, armed with enough Mt. Dew to kill a donkey and my lexicals and went at it. Here are some of my observations:

1. Whether in the Old Testament or New Testament, the word conveys an idea that it is a conviction and sorrow to the very core of a person. And interestingly enough, the Old Testament word also conveys an idea of sorrow before one sinned against.

2. Anyways, today repentance and penance are often confused. The person thinks that things are made right by being really sorry towards the person and thinks they can make it right somehow. But true repentance realizes that there is absolutely nothing the offender can do. He must throw himself at the feet of God.

3. The main word for repent in the OT is almost always used of God, which is a whole nother story altogether. I made note of all the passages to be able to go back and study them, but in I Samuel where the Lord is deposing Saul, he says that he repents in one verse, and then says in the very same chapter that he will not repent. Both are the same Hebrew word and both are in the Niphil. This will call for further study.

4. One of the only times that it is used by a beleiver it was by Job in Job 42:6 (i believe, working on memory here). Job was using it in reaction to being confronted by the Lord and being humbled for questioning the ways and justice of God.

5. I looked through Psalm 51 and 32, to see the pattern of David’s repentance and he always associated it with a physical pain that he felt. That until he did repent, he felt a pain in his bones. The Lord would not allow him to be comfortable in his sin.

6. The paper was to be specifically geared towards the beleiver and repentance, since most of the passages that speak of repentance as a thing an unbeliever must do. I looked to the passages to the Corinthians, calling them to repentance for not dealing with the people who were involved in sins that were so gross, the world looked down on them. I also went to Jesus’ words to the church at Ephesus and Laodicea in Revelation 2 & 3. In both cases, they were not dealing with their sin in a way that Jesus wanted. And it is there that we find a consequence given for their sin.

7. The words for repentance also always come with the conviction that they turn completely from that sin and pursue a righteousness. In Isaiah 1 the Lord is confronting Israel for bringing to him a false worship. He says that he desires no more trampling of the courts, vain offerings that are an abomination and the like. Instead, he calls them to wash themselves and to make themselves clean before him. But those are just the first two in a series of 7 (if I remember correctly) imperatives. The final ones tell them to pursue was is right, seek justice, correct oppression, and the like. True repentance isn’t just a turning from sin, but a turning to what is required, to do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.

The final observation that I made for my own life was to reevaluate how I went about repentance. When dealing with my own sin, can I say that I am rocked like David? Can I say that it breaks me to the very core. Good things to think about.

So as you can see, I do have lots to do, but they are all profitable. Nothing is useless and all is encouraging and profitable!


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