For many years I have heard it taught that to repent is "to stop sinning," or to "turn around 180 degrees." However, Vines Expository Dictionary defines it as more fundamental to thinking than to actions: there, metanoeo is literally "to perceive afterwards" (from meta, "after," implying "change," and noeo, "to perceive," from nous, "the mind, the seat of moral reflection," hence "to change one's mind or purpose," always, in the NT, involving a change for the better, an amendment, and always, except in Luke 17:3-4, of repentance from sin. Have I been "missing the mark" with my pragmatic definition of this word? It seems to me from many scriptures that God is primarily concerned with our thoughts, our attitudes, our hearts -- and then with our actions, which flow from our hearts and minds. Do you see a fundamental and/or practical difference in these two definitions?

No, repentance leads to a turnaround, but it is not the same as cessation from sin. The turnaround is in the mind/heart, and this leads to a change in life. Yet as the scriptures plainly teach, repentance may be followed by relapse. Jeremiah 34 is a prime example of this; I have used this passage since 1987 to show that relapse does not invalidate repentance. In Jeremiah 34:15-16, God himself says that the people had repented, and then relapsed (in this case, re-enslaving their fellow Israelites).

The 180 degree turn is just a handy analogy. "Stop sinning" is a command (John 5) and an attitude as well. Yet provided we are walking in the light, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from our sins (1 John 1:7-2:2).

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