Question:

I have a question about repentance.  I have always wondered if there was such a thing as a lack of repentance? For example, when someone lies to another and later on they repent and change their mind about lying, but they don’t want to bring up the details of the lie with that person because it would reopen old wounds, how should they repent? Would asking God for forgiveness and living a life of works benefitting repentance be enough? A life that is so different from before that others would be shocked to know that person sinned in such a way? Or is a complete confession needed to that person for the forgiveness of our sin?

I’m confused because I would like to think that God forgives us the moment we ask for forgiveness, repent and change our mind about that sin, or is more needed from us to gain forgiveness from God? Are there ever any instances where it’s best to leave lies we have told behind us?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I look forward to your response.

Answer:

From the way you worded your note, I'm not certain if you are clear about what repentance is. Repentance is both a complete change in behavior and a change in attitude regarding your old behavior. Therefore a person who repents no longer acts the same as he once did. "For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter" (II Corinthians 7:11). Notice that a part of that change is a desire to correct the damage done by your past behavior.

Therefore, if someone holds a grudge against you because you had lied to them or they are making bad decisions because you had told a lie, then you ought to desire to straighten the situation out, which would include explaining to the person that you had not been honest with them and apologizing. But if the lie was in the distant past and no one remembers it but you, then bringing it up would only reopen old wounds and not make relationships better. Then, too, there may be cases where you don't know who might have heard your lie or they may no longer be around. There would not be a practical way to apologize in these situations. But that would not mean you had not changed.

God is always aware of all that we do, so we must confess our sins to Him (I John 1:9).

Response:

Thank you so much for your reply. This greatly helped me.

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