Repentance: Attrition or Contrition?

Bible teachers often distinguish between two kinds of repentance. The first kind is what they call attrition. It isn’t heartfelt sorrow for wrongdoing, but a selfishly motivated response to potential punishment. It avoids further discipline. It's external, self-preserving, and even self-centered.

The second kind of repentance Bible teachers talk about is contrition. Contrition is true repentance. It entails heartfelt sorrow for offending God and others. It involves not just turning away from disobedience, but also turning toward obedience. It’s an external change motivated by an internal change. It’s self-sacrificial. It’s God-centered.

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False repentance, or no repentance, leads to bitterness, anger, and unwillingness tosurprised-by-grace2 acknowledge wrongdoing. Until we can recognize our own wrongdoing, we’ll continue to be mastered by this self-centered bondage. Our relationships will continue to be strained and frayed. Freedom comes only with true repentance.

When true repentance is offered, God promises to forgive and restore. True repentance is the means by which God brings about real restoration, a restoration that brings the deepest experience of peace.

Modified from Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian. Learn more.

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