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Is Repentance a Command or a Gift?

January 21, 2019

“I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes.” Ezekiel 36:26–27

We need to pray for repentance. But you may be asking, “Isn’t repentance something God tells us to do?” In other words: Is repentance something God commands, or is it something he gives?

Repentance is a command. God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

But repentance is also a gift. In Acts 11:18, we read that “to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” And in 2 Timothy 2:25, Paul says that we must gently instruct those who oppose us in the hope that “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”

God grants repentance. So you can ask God to give you a contrite heart. You can ask him to change your heart. You can cry out to him “Lord, restore repentance!”

This is the promise of the gospel: God will give you a new heart (Ezek. 36:26–27).

That’s why we can pray for God to restore repentance. In this prayer, you are asking God to change your stubborn heart. You are asking God, “Pour out your Spirit on me. Cause me to hate what you hate and love what you love. I can’t get there on my own.”

Knowing that repentance is both a command and a gift from God, how might this change the way you pray?


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.



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