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10 Scriptures You Should Know about Repentance

10 Scriptures You Should Know about Repentance

It is important to study scriptures on repentance. The definition of repentance means an act of sincere regret or remorse. But, repentance, according to the bible, goes beyond that. Repentance begins there but extends to turning away from sin and toward God because He always knows best. It’s not just a behavior change but a life renewal.

The prophet Hosea said that repentance leads to healing and recovery from our wounds. Living life our own way and learning the hard way causes much hurt and pain.

The prophet Joel cried out for people to repent and return to the Lord by fasting, weeping, and mourning. Repentance needs to be deep and real, not shallow and surface-level only.

The prophet Amos said that without repentance you are planning your own funeral. Living our own way leads to death. Living God’s way leads to life.

The prophet Malachi spoke of God never changing. This is a good thing because He is always patient and longsuffering while He waits for people to repent of their own ways and return to Him.

Then John the Baptist came along and said, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 3:2). He also said that someone greater than him was coming. Soon afterward, Jesus came to the area where John was baptizing and showed us the way by being baptized Himself. Then He also began to preach,

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).

Repentance is a crucial concept in the Kingdom of God, so it is important to study the scriptures on repentance.

What Does the Bible Teach Us about Repentance & How Do We Repent?

Sin grieves God. Animal sacrifices were instituted because God wanted us to grieve over our sin as He does. But He never wanted animal sacrifices to be a lasting way. So, He sent His Son to willingly be the ultimate sacrifice so that all other sacrifices would be unnecessary.

The sacrifice God desires is for us to have a broken spirit. He won’t reject a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17). When we see our sin in the way He does, true repentance is the result. We are sorry that we preferred things our own way instead of learning the loving and patient ways of God.

Job didn’t do anything to cause the calamities that came upon him but he came to realize that he hadn’t trusted God in the process so he eventually sat in dust and ashes to repent (Job 42:6). When we realize how far we fall short of God’s perfect ways, we are grieved and desperately want to learn His ways which are far better than our own.

Ezekiel warned that the Sovereign Lord said to repent and turn away from our idols, and stop all our detestable sins (Ezekiel 14:6). Our thoughts and ways are never as good as God’s ways.

Jesus said that no one is good except God alone (Mark 10:18). So there is always a need for us to study scriptures on repentance and then repent when we fall short.

Studying the scriptures helps us to know the truth and therefore also learn where we fall short of that truth. We repent by agreeing with God that His truth is better than our version of the truth.

U-turn sign on a road

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jim Wilson 

10 Important Scriptures on Repentance

Take some time to meditate on these scriptures about repentance. Ask God to show you where you fall short of His perfect standards.

1. Therefore, I will judge each of you, according to your actions. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! (Ezekiel 18:30)

2. The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One, says this: I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts. (Isaiah 57:15)

3. Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near…Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. (Matthew 3:2-8)

4. I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Matthew 3:11)

5. From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (Matthew 4:17)

6. Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. (Matthew 11:20)

7. The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News! (Mark 1:15)

8. Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. (Luke 3:8)

9. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent. (Luke 5:32)

10. Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God…No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too. (Luke 13:3-5)

Studying scriptures on repentance is not a novel idea. It is a matter of life and death.

God draws unrepentant people to Himself and when they finally turn in His direction, He rejoices. There is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away (Luke 15:1-10). The ninety-nine only think they are righteous because they are comparing themselves to other people, when they should be comparing themselves to God. But there is hope that those ninety-nine will be like the lost son who finally came to his senses and realized how much more he could have if he simply went to his father and repented of thinking he knew best. When you turn from your sin and toward your heavenly Father, He will run to you and rejoice over you. He will never say, “See, I told you so.” He will welcome you with open arms (Luke 15:11-32).

For it was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.” (Luke 24:47)

Then as Peter announced: “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

And Paul reiterated: “I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Acts 20:21)

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed but wants everyone to repent. (2 Peter 3:9)

A Prayer for Repentance

Pray for God to show you the things you do that aren’t very Christlike. We don’t always know that something is wrong. Some wrong things can feel right until we see them through the lens of Christ.

At first King David justified his sins of adultery and murder but when God had Nathan show David his sin, he fully repented and was restored. His prayer of repentance can be seen in Psalm 51.

You can take the words of Psalm 51 and turn them into your own heartfelt prayer when you are convicted of wrongdoing.

Dear Father in Heaven, have mercy on me. I know you have much unfailing love and I need Your love to cover my sin. I know Your great compassion can blot out the stain of my sins when I wholeheartedly repent. Wash me of my guilt and purify me from my sin. I recognize that I rebelled and tried to live in my own selfish way. Every time I sin against another person, I am actually sinning against You. When you convicted me of this wrongdoing, I knew You were right. My natural tendency is to sin by doing what feels right to me even though it’s not always right in Your eyes. I need Your truth to show me Your ways and Your Spirit to help me live by them. Because of Your sacrifice on Calvary, I can be purified of all my sins. I can be clean and whiter than snow. I only need to agree with You when I do wrong. And after I repent, You will bring me joy again. You will rejoice over me. And the more I look to You and learn from Your Word, the more my heart will be clean and I will sin less and less as time goes by. Your Spirit will help me to do that. Restore to me the joy of my salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Then in gratitude, I can help teach other people to come to You. For when I see Your great love, I desire to share it with all who will listen so they might come to know Your joy too. Amen.


One of the best parts of repentance is the comfort you receive afterward. It’s not always easy to repent. It will cost you your pride. But laying down your pride is so worth it. You lay down your pride and pick up God’s love, forgiveness, and acceptance.

The good news is that repentance is not meant for us to wallow in grief and despair. It is meant to turn us toward God and His light. It is meant to heal us of the sin that breaks us and brings us down. God’s glorious light seeks to lift us up.

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Acts 3:19

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Sakorn Sukkasemsakorn 

headshot of author Jenni HeerenJennifer Heeren loves to write and wants to live in such a way that people are encouraged by her writing and her attitude. She loves to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. Her cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. She regularly contributes to Crosswalk. Her debut novel is available on Amazon. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband. Visit her at her website and/or on Facebook.

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