Judas, the one who betrayed him, realized that Jesus was doomed. Overcome with remorse, he gave back the thirty silver coins to the high priests,”
— Matthew 27:3 (The Message)
One of the words used in the Greek to help us understand repentance is metamelomai. It’s literal definition is “To regret, repent.” It’s the word used in this passage (above) to tell us about the remorse that Judas felt as he realized the impact of his betrayal of Jesus.
Metamelomai is an important part of the process of repentance, but is it by itself enough?
Feeling remorse and/or regret for our sinful actions is
important necessary in the process of repentance and salvation. But these feelings are meaningless unless they prompt behavioral change that continues long after the emotions have subsided.
How often do we see people making emotionally charged decisions at evangelistic meetings when confronted with the impact and consequence of their sin? Yep… we see it all the time. The problem is that these kinds of decisions typically result in a high level of backsliding, because of the lack of understanding and resolve to really make a significant change in one’s life.
To put it another way, let me share a personal experience.
I smoked a pack to pack-and-a-half of cigarettes a day for about 12 years. There were many times that I knew it was important for me to quit. Sometimes it was simply because I started to realize the financial impact of the habit, other times it was because I was smacked in the face with the health risks. But each time I tried to quit, I didn’t really WANT to quit. I still wanted to smoke, regardless of the risks that prompted me to feel bad for doing it.
In order to experience true repentance we must feel regret and remorse. But I’m sure that feeling bad wasn’t enough for Judas. The dude ended up going crazy and killing himself.
What we need in addition to metamelomai is Matthew 12:41 Jesus talks about how the people of Nineveh repented. They changed their minds and actions.… arriving at a different view of things. In
Regret and remorse for our actions are important, but true repentance must also involve a changing of our mind and behavior. Repentance is an emotional experience, but also a mental and physical one.
Have you ever experienced repentance (a turning around) that was merely emotional? What’s your story?