What Does it Mean to Repent?

From Issue: Discovery 6/1/2005

Memorizing spelling words was Billy’s least-favorite thing to do in the world. After several weeks of not studying, Billy was failing  spelling. His parents had threatened to ground him. One Friday while taking a test, he glanced in front of him at Jennifer’s paper. He did not mean to, but he did. For the rest of the test, he caught himself glancing at her paper. That Monday, his test score was higher than it had been in weeks.

Week after week, Billy kept looking at Jennifer’s paper. His scores continued to be good. His grade for the nine-weeks grading period improved to a B, and he did not get grounded. He did, however, have a guilty feeling in the back of his mind.

One Sunday, his Bible class teacher talked about lying and cheating and how the Bible says it is wrong. In fact, the teacher read Reve-lation 21:8, which says that people who lie are in danger of going to hell. Billy knew he had been lying, and he was very sorry for his actions.

That day, he told his parents what he had been doing. They were very disappointed in Billy, but they also said they were proud he had the courage to tell the truth. They told him that the Bible says he must repent of his sins (read Luke 13:1-3). They explained that when people repent, they not only are sorry for what they have done, but they also stop their sinful ac-tions. Many times people are sorry for what they have done, but they continue to sin, which is not true repentance. Billy wanted to obey God and repent. He decided right then to stop cheating on tests and start studying his spelling words.

The next Friday, Billy had the urge to look at someone else’s paper, but he remembered how sad and guilty he had felt when he used to do that. He also remembered how good it felt to confess his sin. He stopped cheating. And al-though he sometimes made Cs in spelling, he felt much better about himself and his relationship with God.


A copied sheet of paper

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