The Process of Repentance (2 Timothy 3:16)

2 Timothy 3:16


All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,


        One interesting lesson that we can find in 2 Timothy 3:16 is not related to the inspiration of Scripture.  Though many rightly use this verse as an argument for the hand of God in the perfect inspiration of the Bible, there is more here to be found.  One such thing to be found in this text is a beautiful picture of repentance.


        Years ago, Jay Adams wrote a book entitled How to Help People Change.  In that work, Adams presented a pattern of life change which he saw present in 2 Timothy 3:16.  I have since taken Adams’ idea, and worked it in a slightly different way to display how it is that we repent of sin.


        If Adams and I are correct about this verse teaching life change or repentance, there are four major steps that God’s word will take us through to help us turn away from sin and to Christ.  The first is teaching.  The Scriptures teach us the truth.  A person who is walking in sin may not grasp the reality of his or her circumstances.  The Bible shines the light of God on our lives to reveal to us the truths about our thoughts and actions.  Thus, we are forced to think differently about our behavior—the first step in repentance.


        The second step is rebuke or reproof.  The word of God not only teaches us, but it also makes us feel the proper pain that we should feel when we do wrong.  It reprimands us and calls us to the proper Godly sorrow that leads to repentance.  When thinking differently about our sin leads us to feeling sorrow over our sin, that is the second major phase of repentance.


        Scripture also corrects us.  This has to do with course correction.  If we are heading down the wrong path, Scripture helps us to slam on the breaks and start turning the wheel.  Turning away from sin is a third aspect to repenting.


        Finally, this text tells us that Scripture trains us in righteousness.  Not only is it right for us to put off our sin, we also must put on righteous alternatives.  Training in righteousness is teaching us to do what is right in place of what is wrong.  Only when we have gone at least to this point have we truly repented of our sin.


        2 Timothy 3:16 is a great place to look to see if you are rightly handling issues of sin in your life.  Have you been taught—are you seeing your sin for what it is?  Have you been reproved—are you feeling proper sorrow for your sin?  Have you been corrected—have you stopped the wrong thing?   Have you been trained in righteousness—are you learning to do what is right?  These aspects are how we change for the glory of God by the Spirit of God working in the word of God