Measuring True Repentance

Ultimately repentance is a heart issue. Thus, since God is the only one who is able to evaluate the heart of a man, it can be very difficult to evaluate the professed repentance of an individual. This is even more the case in situations involving church discipline. Often times repentance will be professed to avoid the embarrassment of public confrontation. This makes it difficult, and crucial for the leadership of the church to evaluate the repentance of an individual carefully and biblical.

The heart, or the motives, of repentance cannot be evaluated by anyone but God. However, the fruit of repentance can and must be evaluated. It is, in fact, the fruit of one’s life that reveals the status of his heart. (Matthew 7:20). With this in mind, scriptures provides us with several specific fruits of true repentance:

    Honest confession of sin (1 John 1:9)
    Long-term change in behavior (Acts 26:20)
    Submission to godly counsel (Hebrews 13:17)
    Desire to seek forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-24)
    Willingness to make restitution (Luke 19:8)
    A humble and broken heart (Psalm 51:17)

In the process of evaluating the fruit of repentance grace and patience must temper the cautions of the church leadership.