Repentance (Penitence)

Repentence is sorrow for any thing done or said; the pain or grief which a person experiences in consequence of the injury or inconvenience produced by his own conduct. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment, is legal repentance as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life. Real penitence is sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is evangelical repentance and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life. Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God. Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God.Webster’s American Dictionary

“Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God.”

Penitence is repentance and is defined as "pain; sorrow or grief of heart for sins or offenses; contrition. Real penitence springs from a conviction of guilt and ingratitude to God, and is followed by amendment of life."

Repentance is a law of being (you must be repentant), and a law of doing (you must repent). Repentance is your sole avenue to redeeming misspent or unwisely invested soul substance, amending the foolishness of your past choices, and your request to be permitted to repay any debts of force that you may have created. Thus, repentance is also an initiation.

Edna Lister on Repentance (Penitence)

To repent, you must first see where you stand, and see clearly wherein you have failed.—Edna Lister, The High Call, January 2, 1935.

Reformation and repentance are necessary to obtain mercy and forgiveness.—Edna Lister, November 9, 1935.

Repentance includes reviewing your past life, taking stock, and holding an executive session to gain a just and balanced estimate of self.—Edna Lister, February 6, 1937.

Repentance of the soul is soul purifying, taking stock of the little self.—Edna Lister, The Story of Lent, February 27, 1938.

Waste no time in vain self-condemnation or foolish grief, just go to the Mercy Seat in repentance for allowing anything to cause you to lose a moment’s time. Grieve while praising up, looking up, lifting up and holding up.—Edna Lister, August 19, 1942.

To repent, put on sackcloth and kneel before the altar. Sackcloth symbolizes full knowledge of law and surrender to become the servant instrument of all Power, the ability to sacrifice the last particle of self and so truly is a robe of glory.—Edna Lister, November 1, 1944.

Grief, self blame and self-condemnation aren’t true repentance because self always seeks to justify whatever it has done, to itself, others and God.—Edna Lister, November 2, 1944.

Repent as you work. Repent here for your disobedience here, not in the heavenly realms when you disobey here.—Edna Lister, July 7, 1945.

Prove your repentance by deeds.—Edna Lister, July 16, 1945.

The Vow of Repentance is, "Here I AM, Father. Let Light shine on the unconscious memory that drew this lesson to me. Let Thy Light cleanse and scrape clean the platter of my self to lift it into thy glory now."—Edna Lister, July 17, 1945.

To repent, take a deep breath, shoot up, stay in the Light, release love and do.—Edna Lister, June 17, 1947.

God gives each soul the full opportunity to repent.—Edna Lister, February 10, 1948.

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."—Matthew 18:3. The Master really said, "You shall not enter the kingdom of heaven unless you become unselfish in consciousness." This is entering the kingdom like a child.—Edna Lister, September 3, 1949.

To repent means to ascend into the high place of soul.—Edna Lister, January 16, 1950.

True repentance does not need to hide anything. Acknowledge what is negative from the past and put it on the altar as a sacrifice of self. The soul must overcome wrong doing, thinking, self-indulgences, and self-pity. To prostrate the self in repentance every time is the only method that works. Always sustain a rigid self-discipline in this.—Edna Lister, March 27, 1951.

Nothing is too black for a soul to return from, and you must repent and forgive.—Edna Lister, Forgiveness, the Path of Glory, October 21, 1951.

Don’t look back to yesterday, repent at the altar instead.—Edna Lister, November 12, 1951.

God knows how deeply your repentance goes, so you need not talk about it.—Edna Lister, November 12, 1951.

When you ascend to repent, you go to your own altar to ask for ways of repayment that will not upset anyone else’s apple cart. Leave the penalty to God.—Edna Lister, November 26, 1951.

To repent means to change your way of thinking, to think up instead of out on the horizontal level.—Edna Lister, Seven Churches, November 25, 1952.

A deathbed repentance does not pay the spiritual debts, but only reschedules them for a later payment.—Edna Lister, Surrender and Transfiguration, July 12, 1953.

Repentance means to open your mind, to sacrifice your cherished opinions and prejudices.—Edna Lister, Your Life’s Practice, May 23, 1954.

Repentance is good, if you repent as you climb and continue lifting.—Edna Lister, February 11, 1955.

You must repent and "sin no more," or you become such a very tiny channel for Light that law cannot use you.—Edna Lister, The Three Temptations, February 19, 1956.

Never waste time on the past by continuing to think about it or by blaming your self. You have no time for the self-indulgence, the self-gratification, the self-exaltation of leisurely repentance. Repent as you climb. Repent as you love. Repent as you ascend.—Edna Lister, April 10, 1957.

Offer deep repentance that you can fail by a weakness or miss by a micron.—Edna Lister, September 30, 1957.

You have no time for the self-gratification, self-indulgence or self-satisfaction of "I’m sorry" repentance. This turns into self-pity. Clean up the self and repent as you climb every minute, every hour, every day as you climb, as you love enough, as you ascend through your barriers of self.—Edna Lister, September 30, 1957.

To ascend is true repentance, which may not wipe out the whole debt, but the Power released is great enough to wipe it out.—Edna Lister, September 30, 1957.

The world bases its idea of repentance in the vibrations of shame, pain, and pride. "Shame" repentance is not real repentance.—Edna Lister, December 25, 1957.

Repentance begins when you become aware of your disobedience. Repentance comes in many kinds: You can have pain-repentance from buying uncomfortable shoes, or indigestion-repentance from eating too much or the wrong foods. You have shame-repentance when someone "catches" you or "finds out" what you have done and hidden.

Yet love-repentance creates a sense of contrition, not just being sorry that you were caught, but grieved to have hurt another. Contrition is deep grief that deals with reconciliation of your relationship to God and to others. "I wish I hadn’t" is the first sign of preparation in assuming full responsibility. This is soul growth, opening into Christed consciousness. You move from contrition to penitence, raising our vibration in all the cells of the body and life sparks of the soul.

When you accept law with no inner conflict, you move from repentance and reconciliation to atonement. Atonement means to be at ease with God, with your self, and with others. This super-repentance opens high penitence, a desire to make everything right, to cover others’ debts, to repair damage and to make amends for failures.—Edna Lister, Immortality Now, March 30, 1958.

Being sorry and repentant is not enough. It’s a step, but not a point of pride or a resting place.—Edna Lister, September 21, 1958.

When you truly repent, the Light will write what laws you have broken in words of fire before you.—Edna Lister, October 23, 1958.

To repent, you must make it right by lifting "it" into the Light and not covering it up to save someone else emotional hurt.—Edna Lister, January 26, 1959.

Repentance is not a vague feeling of regret. To repent means to lift every little stinker into the penthouse of your consciousness.—Edna Lister, March 31, 1959.

"And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.—Luke 23:39-43."

With these words, Jesus added the law of repentance to the law of forgiveness. Jesus forgave the repentant thief’s sins by pouring the vibration of love on him. When you look into the face of evil and declare, "This is good," you wipe out the sin. Do this and you shall see miracle after miracle.—Edna Lister, Jesus’ Seven Last Words, June 7, 1959.

Repentance is not vague regret, an "I’m sorry," and off you go. Repentance is an instantaneous conviction that this is the truth, a complete change in the mental life, your mind and thinking faculty.—Edna Lister, Imagination Is Your Crown, June 21, 1959.

Peter disobeyed Jesus when he neglected to remain in the upper room [John 13:36-37]. His curiosity probably brought him out, but he felt guilty. He had denied Jesus three times [John 18:17, 25 and 27]. Peter had to deny the Master or the authorities would have arrested the disciples. Peter’s repentance was tremendous, with real contrition behind it, but he did not know that repentance is not enough. He had separated Mind, Substance and Power and had to release Love-Power to wipe out disobedience, to wash the page whiter than snow.

Repentance is not "I’m sorry" and doing it again. Repentance is "Let love absorb the clouds of darkness I have created." We speak the word and love does the work. Jesus was stressing, "Peter, do you love me enough?" Love enough is our only way to collaborate with God, to seek Him first, to pay spiritual debts and ascend.—Edna Lister, Feed My Sheep, November 22, 1959.

Repent as you ascend. Don’t wallow in self-blame.—Edna Lister, Tomorrow Is Yours, December 13, 1959.

Repentance does not pay your debts, but makes it possible to pay your debts.—Edna Lister, Forgiveness, March 31, 1961.

Your only true cosmic contact with all Power comes through our repentance, contrition and devotion through love.—Edna Lister, Your Contact With Cosmic Power, October 8, 1961.

"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."—Revelation 2:17. When you truly repent, you eat of the hidden manna to open the pineal, and to receive the white stone and open the faculty of illumination.—Edna Lister, The Fifth Church of Revelation, October 24, 1961.

When you pray in devoted surrender at the Mercy Seat, your records come under the law of disintegration and absorption. A lotus petal opens when you repent, and a record is wiped clean.—Edna Lister, Beginning of All Life, May 1, 1962.

Repentance has four stages: regret, remorse, contrition, and penitence. Before you can repent, you must know about what you need to turn from. Someone must tell you or you may gain it from reading. Jesus taught us who we are, why we are here, where we are going, and how to do it. We discover we have misused law; we have been Sadducees instead of like Jesus. Then we repent.—Edna Lister, The Water and the Fire, June 16, 1963.

Too often the Elect only think they have repented, started over and failed again. Until you unearth every taint of self, not just repent the outright sins, you merely set the stage for a repetition of the past, to fail again.—Edna Lister, September 22, 1963.

You sink into self-pity under lack of repentance and run from responsibility for earning your way. Then you no longer live up at the Source, but down in the mud.—Edna Lister, November 8, 1963.

Enough prayer and repentance wipe clean the soul records you are not proud of, but you must dig it out and repent at the Source.—Edna Lister, Heaven Is a State of Consciousness, November 19, 1963.

You must continuously repent of past foolishness, lost time, laziness and indifference and, above all, the time spent in self-pity. Repent as you go onward and upward, knowing better than to stop for one moment, even to repent. Repent as you arise even higher.—Edna Lister, Five Keys of the Kingdom, 1964.

It is not enough to repent once. Repent and surrender hourly or "thou art in danger of the judgment."—Edna Lister, March 1, 1964.

If a malefactor repents, he can go to the altar and receive forgiveness; however, forgiveness does not pay the debt. Such must prove his repentance through good hard loyal service to God and in it no self, with no credits given until he pays the last debt.—Edna Lister, October 6, 1964.

Pure repentance says, "Father, forgive me that my action caused my brother to stumble." Take full blame for all that happens around you. If you have left any blame, pray, stand and release Power until it is gone.—Edna Lister, The Eternal Son’s Relationship to the Universe, December 15, 1964.

The law says that you must cover the transgressions of others: You do not uncover the other fellow’s "nakedness," but let him keep his pride, etc. This does not mean that you must do this with an unrepentant person, nor must you live with evil.—Edna Lister, Appreciation Is a Love Affair, May 16, 1965.

Repent means to "turn around" or "to return." The Bible says after each prophecy, "Turn again to the Lord." It may be in the next verse or chapter, but it is there.—Edna Lister, January 24, 1966.

Unless it takes you to live in the Light, it is not repentance, but just thinking about repentance.—Edna Lister, November 14, 1968.

You must repent and repent and repent until no need for repentance remains. Deep enough repentance means strength enough to finally keep your vows.—Edna Lister, February 26, 1969.

"I repent" doesn’t count if you have not forgiven.—Edna Lister, December 14, 1970.

Repentance is Ascension and returning to the Master.—Edna Lister, Undated Papers, 1924-1971.

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Stories That Illustrate Repentance (Penitence)

The Prodigal Son: And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.—Luke 15:11-32.

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New Testament on Repentance (Penitence)

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.—Matthew 9:4-7. [Christ has power on earth to forgive sins.]

Go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I AM not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.—Matthew 9:13. [Do not do wrong then plea bargain for forgiveness].

According to your faith let it be to you.—Matthew 9:29.

Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.—Matthew 18:3.

The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent [change your mind], and believe in the gospel.—Mark 1:15.

I [Christ] did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.—Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32.

One whose sins are many is forgiven, if he loves much; to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.—Luke 7:47.

There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety‑nine just persons who need no repentance.—Luke 15:7.

There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.—Luke 15:10.

If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, "I repent," you shall forgive him.—Luke 17:3‑4.

When we turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away from our soul vision.—2 Corinthians 3:16.

Every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray, since he himself is also subject to weakness. Because of this he is required as for the people; so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins. And no man takes this honor to himself, but he who is called by God.—Hebrews 5:1-4.

Vicarious Atonement: It is not possible that blood offerings could take away sins.—Hebrews 10:4.

The Atonement: "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God."—Hebrews 10:9.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.—James 1:17.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you; cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.—James 4:8.

Confess your trespasses to one another [with perfect discretion]; and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.—James 5:16.

He who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.—James 5:20.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish put that all should come to repentance.—2 Peter 3:9.

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I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me, for I have redeemed thee.—Isaiah 44:22.

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Repentance (Penitence) in Other Sacred Writings

How good is it, when you are reproved, to repent, for so shall you escape wilful sin.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 20:3.

Do nothing without advice; and when you have once done, repent not.—Wisdom of Ben Sirach 32:19.

Christ was spoken of in our midst, so that those who were disturbed might receive a repentance, and he might anoint them with the ointment of the Father’s mercy.—The Gospel of Truth, Codex I, 3 and XII, 2.

Let him who [thinks he] possesses power renounce it and repent.—The Dialogue of the Savior, Codex III, 5.

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 – 1971
The original Christian Pioneering Mystic,
Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of repentance: Old French repentir: re- + pentir, "to be sorry," from Latin paenitire, "penitence."

Repentance is a law of being.
Repentance is a law of doing.
Repentance is an initiation.


Grief still treads upon the heels of pleasure; married in haste, we may repent at leisure.—William Congreve


Congreve, William. "The Old Bachelor," as quoted in Familiar Quotations, William Congreve, number 9. John Bartlett, compiler, 10th edition. Boston: Little, Brown, 1919.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, ed. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Webster, Noah. Webster’s American Dictionary. New York: S. Converse, 1828.