Elements of Repentance

Editor’s Note:  In a recently published (1/19/14) study guide, writer Suzi Raines succinctly re-stated my sermon on repentance so well that I thought it should be published here.  Thanks for your good work, Suzi.  –geno

by Suzi Raines

 Lesson Summary:

Repentance is a four-step process of:

1) Godly sorrow which helps us to hate our sinful actions or attitudes;

2) Confession of sin that causes us to acknowledge our sinful actions or attitudes and embrace the true meaning of our offense;

3) Trust in God and His mercy which helps us lay ourselves out in vulnerability and humility; and

4) Turning around that is the result of coming to God in deep sorrow, agreeing with Him that our sins are an abomination in His sight and seeking God’s merciful help to live right before Him.  God promises refreshment and renewal for those who humbly repent.


  • Mark 1:4-5
  • Mark 1:14-15
  • Acts 2:36-39
  • 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
  • 1 Peter 5:5b-7
  • Luke 18:9-14
  • Psalm 51:1-4
  • Ephesians 4:28-32
  • Acts 3:17-21

 Digging Deeper

  • Think about Godly sorrow (being truly sorry for something you did) and compare it to guilty sorrow (only sorrowful because you got caught).  Can you recall a specific time when you sinned or were at fault for something and got caught and responded with Godly sorrow?  How about with guilty sorrow?  How can you tell the difference?  What were some of the things you said, did, or thought in each kind of sorrow that indicates what kind of sorrow it was?
  • Are you currently in a situation where you need to express Godly sorry so that you can move through the steps of repentance?
  • Geno’s stepdad showed immense grace in light of what Geno had done and the possible bodily harm he could have caused.  When have you received such grace (outside of the response of our loving Savior)?  When have you shown such grace?  What do you learn from this example?
  • When have you sinned and then “hid-out,” pondering all the worst-case scenarios before you moved forward to confess and / or apologize?  Did hiding do any good?
  • What sinful actions or attitudes do you need to confess?  To whom do you need to confess them (i.e. is God calling you to confess to a person you sinned against / make a public confession of some sort)?
  • Do you think you can ask the offended party, “What does restitution look like to you?”
  • When you confess / apologize to a person for sinning against them, you never quite know what their response will be, but we can trust God with the results when we seek to humbly obey Him.  What have you put off confessing for fear of what the response will be or how your confession might change things?  Will you stop delaying and confess today so that you can move forward in repentance?
  • What sin(s) have you turned away from?  Give glory to God for those things that once bound you, but you have now been set free from!
  • Look at your list of areas of health vs. areas for growth (or of unhealth).  In light of this sermon, are there some areas of unhealth that are present because of sin and / or lack of repentance?  What will you do to address those areas this week?


As we walk the path to renewal, repentance is one of the key stepping stones.  Repentance is the gateway to renewal.  Let’s become a confessional people and practice repentance.


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