The Chicago Daily News recently reported that Billy Graham, in talking about what Americans need most, stated: “It is absolutely impossible to change society and to reverse the moral trend unless we ourselves are changed from the inside out. Man needs transformation or conversion.… Our only way to moral reform is through repentance of our sins and a return to God.”

The Old Testament in no uncertain terms reiterates the same truth over and over again. A representative and very specific statement to that effect is found in 2 Chron. 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Meaning of Repentance and Conversion in the New Testament. Two Greek words are translated as repentance. Metamelomai has the basic connotation of feeling differently, or remorse (Matt. 21:29, 32; 27:3). Judas repented only in the sense of remorse, not with the idea of abandoning sin. Paul used this word with such a meaning (2 Cor. 7:8). Metanoeo (metanoia, noun) is regularly used to express the requisite state of mind necessary for the forgiveness of sin. It means to think differently or to have a different attitude toward sin and God, etc.

For conversion, strepho (strophe, noun), the root word, is used twice: Matt. 18:3, “Unless you become converted and become as little children you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven”; John 12:40, “become converted, and I will heal them.” The preposition prefix epi occurs on the word in the other passages where the sense of conversion is expressed. The basic idea of the word is to turn, and in most passages, where it denotes conversion, it is used ...

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