The word used in Scripture is “metanoia.” “Meta” is a “change”; “noia” means “the mind.” So “metanoia” in its original sense means “a change of mind.” “You need to change your mind about reality” is what the Bible says to a wicked and adulterous generation.
But the warning I would like to lift is, that when many people talk about repentance, they mean a great emotional thing. They mean people who are sorry about the past, and feel bad about it. They mean people who will turn their lives into another direction. These things do have their place under certain circumstances, but that’s not what repentance means!
A lot of people have cried about things, but they have not changed their minds. A lot of people have said, “I’m going to do differently,” but the mind is still the same.
I would like to call for a more profound kind of repentance than is popularly understood by the use of this word. It doesn’t mean to pay back, or to do penance, which is what the English word means. It means, “you must have a fundamental change of mind concerning what life is all about.” When Paul said, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21), he put it well.
Who is God? God is that holy and absolutely impeccable Individual who presides above the universe. He’s the One whose holiness must not be offended. We should fear the Lord, the Bible says, and that word “fear” means “fear.” We should be terribly afraid of what God in His perfect holiness might do, if we persist in living lives of offense towards Him.
When one changes his mind about God, he realizes that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that He has sent His Son, so that we, by faith in Him, might have everlasting life.
When we change our mind about God, we should also repent, that is, change our mind, about ourselves. When a person has sinned, he is in a state of being out of fellowship with God. He is living a life that is an offense to his Heavenly Father. If he doesn’t change his mind about this, he will go on in sin. A person needs to repent about what he is, and what he has been.
With a change of mind, coupled with forgiveness from God, he can move on in stately victory from there.
From “The Future of America—A Call to Revival, Part 1,” by Dave Breeese.