The Heart of the Problem (part 2-repentance)

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The Heart of the Problem is the Problem of the Heart!

*This five-part series is an overview of The Heart of the Problem book/workbook. If you discover help in these articles, I encourage you to purchase the workbook at and go deeper in your discovery. For detailed training as a biblical counselor, see

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God bless you in your studies!

The Five Step Process Of Repentance

Repentance is the most positive word in the Bible. Jesus began and ended His ministry teaching and preaching repentance. But how long does it take for a person to repent? How long does a process take? A process takes as long as it takes. Repentance doesn’t have to take a long time, rebellion does!”

The Meaning of Repentance

William Douglas Chamberlain, a man devoted to helping God’s people understand repentance, wrote a book entitled The Meaning of Repentance. He said, “Repentance does not bring the Kingdom; it prepares men to participate in it. Repentance is not a device for escaping hell; it is a preparation for co-operating with God’s will on earth.” If repentance helps us live out God’s will while here on earth, that explains why repentance is a major theme in the New Testament. The forerunner of Christ, John the Baptist, came preaching repentance. Jesus’ first message was to preach repentance. “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 4:17). The very last words of Jesus to His disciples are found in Luke 24:47, “…and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Questions concerning the central theme of Jesus’ coming and of His preaching should not be in doubt. Chamberlain said, “Next to the Resurrection, ‘repentance’ is the most frequent theme in The Acts.” Repentance is a theme to be embraced, not rejected.

Again, you must not lose sight of the positive nature of God’s work through repentance.

Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 

Romans 2:4

Remember the first time you tried to drive a vehicle with a manual transmission? There were many steps in the process that were critical to follow if the vehicle was to move forward. I remember trying to drive a 1966 Ford step-side pickup truck.

These were the steps I had to remember. First, put my left hand on the steering wheel. Second, place my right hand on the gearshift. Third, place my left foot on the clutch. Fourth, place my right foot on the accelerator or brake according to the situation at the time. Fifth, push the clutch to the floor with my left foot and move the gearshift to neutral, then toward me and down for first gear. Sixth, let out on the clutch slowly with my left foot while pushing down lightly on the gas with my right foot. Seventh, look out the front windshield to watch where I was going. Eighth, watch the rear view mirrors. The end result was that I watched the truck go up and down and then stall instead of going forward!

With all these steps I thought I would never learn the process of making a manual-transmission-powered vehicle move in a smooth and orderly motion. The process took quite a while to learn. But once I learned to drive that truck, it became automatic to me.

People who drive manual-transmission vehicles do not even think about the steps; they just get in the vehicle and enjoy going where they need to go. Steps for the process of driving are present, but are not stumbling blocks for accomplishing the task. Repentance should be that way for the believer. We should be so aware of sin and its wrongness that the minute we see our sin, we quickly move through the process of repentance. Remember, though, that the prayer must be more than just a cry for help in time of crisis–the prayer must reflect a heart that desires to change.

Once a person has a sin problem in his life, he often is convinced that his problem is so complex that the situation will take a long time to correct. Ignoring a sin problem will only prolong the process of repentance.

Genuine repentance moves quickly, but the process to reach your destination of repentance may take a long time. The length of time it takes to repent depends on how long it takes a person to come to the place where he really wants to change.

How many times have you prayed, “God forgive me for not reading my Bible consistently,” yet your life did not match the prayer and you went through another month of anemic Bible study? If a person lived out the complete process of repentance concerning the reading, study, and meditation of God’s Word, something would have changed. God only needs a few moments to cleanse a dirty heart.

Five Steps In The Process Of Repentance

Step One: “God, I Am Wrong.”

*detailed explanation found in Chapter 3 of The Joy Of Repentance (pp. 55-70)

Once you see the wrongness of sin and admit your wrongness, you are ready for the next step in the process–to have a godly sorrow over your sin.

Step Two: “God, I Am Sorry For My Sin.”

*detailed explanation found in Chapter 4 of The Joy Of Repentance (pp. 71-96)

Worldly sorrow is unmistakably different than godly sorrow. Is it possible for you to say, “I am sorry,” but not mean it? Yes. What kind of sorrow is that? It is worldly sorrow, not godly sorrow. This type of sorrow has no intention of producing change, it is simply sorry that a situation exists, or sorry that the situation is bringing grief to life.

The truth is that godly sorrow is simple, yet profound. If godly sorrow comes from God, then people cannot, on their own, manufacturer this sorrow. God grants this acceptable sorrow to a person who really desires to change. If change is not desired, then no amount of human sorrow can relieve the problem. Judas had this kind of sorrow, but it was not enough to comfort him in his time of crisis. When God knows that a person desires to really change, then He produces in us a grieving heart over our condition.

Step Three: “God, Please Forgive My Sin.”

*detailed explanation found in Chapter 5 of The Joy Of Repentance (pp. 97-114)

God convicts us of sin to redeem us. If we could ever grab hold of that, we would see the joy of repentance. Guilt is an awful thing; forgiveness is a blessing. Guilt condemns, but the confession of sin and receiving of forgiveness shown in 1 John 1:9 is not condemning–it is freeing.

Step Four: “God, Cleanse Me.”

*detailed explanation found in Chapter 6 of The Joy Of Repentance (pp. 115-134)

Cleansing is a powerful word picture. The Scriptures give many different insights that help give a complete understanding of the cleansing process. A general biblical view of the word “cleanse” means to purify and restore something back to its original condition.

Step Five: “God, Empower Me.”

*detailed explanation found in Chapter 7 of The Joy Of Repentance (pp. 135-158)

Understand, the power of Christ living in you will empower you to do whatever assignment God gives to you. God takes a weak, but clean and empty vessel, and uses it for His glory.

The empowered life is a joy-filled life!


Sin is negative. Repentance is positive. Christians need to become good repenters in order to stay “up to date” in their relationship with Christ. This week, observe your thoughts, actions, and attitudes to see if you have areas which need the positive message of repentance.