Why Is Repentance So Hard?

The command to repent is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, to persuade people to obey. Not only do non-members have a very real problem with this, but many members of the church do as well. Why is repentance so hard? There are at least four concepts that repentance involves that make it difficult.

Repentance involves a recognition of God. It involves recognizing what God requires (Luke 13:3; 24:47). God is the one who requires us to repent. Since He does so, the command is not an option. It involves a consideration of God’s “goodness” and “longsuffering” (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). God could easily bring judgment on us at any time, but He is gracious and gives us time to repent. How sad it is to see people misusing their opportunities.

Repentance involves godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is not repentance, but it leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). “Godly sorrow” is not sorrow because one has been caught in his sin. It is not sorrow for what sin has done to him. For example, a young man told of his experiences in trying to help his uncle who was an alcoholic. When he and others visited and encouraged him to repent, his uncle would shed many tears, but he would never change. That is not true repentance.

Repentance involves a change of mind coupled with a change of action for good. In Matthew 21:28-32, one of the sons “repented and went.” In Matthew 3:7-10, John the Baptist severely rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees for not producing the fruits which demonstrate repentance. The phrase “worthy for repentance” really means, “answerable to amendment of life.” King Manasseh humbled himself and repented, tearing down the altars and idols he made for the people to worship (2 Chronicles 33:10-13). Don’t be like Judas who changed his mind, but didn’t follow with good action (Matthew 27:3-5). One might say he has repented, but if he continues in his evil ways, he hasn’t repented at all.

Repentance involves God’s blessings. In the parables of Luke 15, the lost sheep, coin, and son all teach the same lesson. There is rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents (Luke 15:10). Sins are blotted out and refreshing comes from the Lord when one repents (Acts 3:19; cp. Isaiah 55:6-7; Ezekiel 18:30-31). Why does this make repentance difficult? Because blessings also imply judgment (Acts 17:30-31). I believe everyone wants to be blessed, but we’ve got to remember that we’ll be judged too. An eternal condemnation is in play every day of life and in every decision you make.

Are you ready to humbly repent of your sins and no longer commit them? We may indeed come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), but only if we are ready to turn from sin. Are you ready to make a change? If so, please contact us.

Kyle Campbell