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How long is it necessary to repent for an act of sin?

For example, can just the thought "forgive me for my sin, Lord" immediately after the sin is committed enough (and truly mean it)....or does a Christian have to repeatedly pray for a certain amount of time over the sin?

All answers from different traditions and denominations are encouraged, please.

Thank You.

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closed as not constructive by Caleb Oct 31 '12 at 23:36

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This isn't a polling site. Questions here aren't for throwing the net wide and seeing what you can dredge up. In order to not do that, we expect some research effort from questioners to formulate question that calls for an expert answer. Please either do a little research to figure out who you realy want to hear from or if you are realy looking for something comparative, take the time to figure out what the issue is and formulate a question that calls for an answer from somebody with cross-tradition expertise. – Caleb Nov 1 '12 at 10:10
Generally speaking, people believe that you're forgiven for all sins when you're saved. Technically you shouldn't have to ask for forgiveness. However, it is truly a sign of remorse. – user1054 Nov 5 '12 at 19:57
(I can't answer since it's closed...) The Greek word for "repent" is "metanoia" and literally means to change one's mind. To "repent" is to begin to think in a new way and set your mind on new things. Biblical repentance is not saying "sorry" but beginning to regard truth as truth, sin as sin, Lord as Lord, etc. Clearly the idea is that it is a permanent "turn" from an old way of thinking / living to a new way. Practically speaking our repentance takes the form of a commitment to following God and an ongoing growth to conform to His image. – Jas 3.1 Nov 5 '12 at 20:16
@Jas3.1: I never thought of it as "iterally means to change one's mind." Can you put this in an answer, it is really good, thanks. – Greg McNulty Nov 14 '12 at 22:02
All, please vote to reopen, there are some really good points here that should be answers. – Greg McNulty Nov 15 '12 at 2:18

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Repentance can be a slightly confusing term, because we have very different words that translate to it. The Hebrew term used in the Old Testament, nicham, means "to feel sorrow," which makes the somewhat confusing phrase "the Lord repented of what he had done," seen various times in the OT, make a lot more sense.

The Greek metanoia used in the New Testament, on the other hand, does not mean contrition; it means "to change one's mind." And when John the Baptist was asked about his teachings of repentance, he made it clear that, as the mind drives our decisions, true repentance involves changing not only our thoughts, but our behavior:

Luke 3:8-14

8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

10 And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

12 Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do?

13 And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you.

14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

So true repentance does not simply require asking for forgiveness, or even "truly meaning it," but actually turning away from the sin. For how long? For the rest of your life, of course; if you only stop doing something for a short time and then go back to it, you haven't really turned away from it.

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