Possibly, you already understand “repentance” means a change of behavior for the good – changing from a sinful lifestyle to a godly lifestyle. We have discussed that in more detail in our comprehensive article on the Biblical meaning of repentance. When there is a genuine inward change of repentance, there naturally follow visible outward changes in our behavior and lifestyle. The Scriptures call these visible changes “fruits of repentance”: But what are these “fruits of repentance”?
Possibly, you already understand “repentance” means a change of behavior for the good – changing from a sinful lifestyle to a godly lifestyle. We have discussed that in more detail in our comprehensive article on the Biblical meaning of repentance. When there is a genuine inward change of repentance, there naturally follow visible outward changes in our behavior and lifestyle. The Scriptures call these visible changes “fruits of repentance”:
But what are these “fruits of repentance”?
Fruits of Repentance Scripture
Let’s read from Acts 26:18 & 20:
- Acts 26:18: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
- Acts 26:20b: “that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”
“Fruits of repentance” are simply the things that follow repentance – the results of repentance. Paul’s preaching and teaching ministry was to “open their eyes” – that is, change their perception and understanding – “so that” – in other words, the result would be that – “they may turn”. “Turning” is a “fruit of repentance.”
“Turning” from something and “turning” to something, or Someone. In this particular passage, Paul specified “turning from darkness to light” – “turning from the dominion of Satan to God” – “that they should repent” – from the things of the world, the flesh and the devil, “and turn to God” – and the things of God – to “deeds appropriate to repentance.”
Peter specified some of those “deeds appropriate to repentance” at the end of that sermon he gave on the day of Pentecost – he said in Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” These things are, on the one hand, acts of obedience on our part after repentance, and on the other hand, gifts of God that follow after repentance.
The apostle Peter also said in Acts 3:19: “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” Turning from”, “turning to”, but also “returning” follows repentance. A fruit of repentance for the Christian is to “return” to the Lord.
You see, repentance doesn’t happen just once when you first come to Christ – it’s an ongoing process even after we come to Christ. It is part of the normal Christian life, and should be part of the normal Christian church life – a continuous process of repenting and returning to the Lord.
In the Book of Revelation, Jesus instructs the churches to “repent” (see Revelation 2:5, 16, 3:3, and 19):
- Revelation 2:5: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”
- Revelation 2:16: “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
- Revelation 3:3: “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
- Revelation 3:19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”
Peter was instructing the people of God to “repent and return.” Why? So that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The instruction is to return from living independently of the Lord to abiding in the Lord – and when we “repent and return,” we find the Lord’s presence in our lives and churches in a fresh and deeper way.
And through the continuous process of “repenting and returning,” we are restored and built up in the Holy Spirit so that the Church may continue on in the Father’s awesome plans and purposes right up to the return of the Son as the Bible says in Acts 3:20-21: “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
In this sense, we might say that repentance and returning are linked with abiding. Returning to the Lord to abide in Him – to look at life and live life from His point of view – these are “fruits of repentance.” In this regard, let us remember the words of Jesus in John 15:4-5: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
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