There’s no need to fear this word. But false religion has twisted this word’s meaning to cause some people to stumble. So…we’re about to interpret scripture with scripture, to find out what “repentance” actually means.
But before we get into defining the word, I want you to consider something first. Do you think that you must repent of your sins to be saved? Or at least give it your best effort? Have you attempted to repent of your sins, (to God’s satisfaction)?
The answer is: No, you haven’t, (and neither have I). You and I, and everyone else in the world, have countless sins that we don’t let other people see. Our sins of our mind are every bit as accountable and known by God as our behavioral sins, and we rack em’ up all day long…Pride, worry, greed, envy, coveting, idolatry, lust, etc. It is impossible, to meet God’s righteous standard by our efforts to be good. And our trying hard doesn’t count; God requires nothing short of perfection from everyone who belongs to Him, (Matthew 5.48). But there’s great news my friend…Our being right with God isn’t dependant on our impotent efforts, our being right with God is dependent on our resting in Christ’s righteousness. And we receive this by grace through faith only, (Ephesians 2.8,9), not from our behavior or personal merit of any kind.
While every book of the bible can reveal salvation to a person. Only the book of John makes the claim that it was specifically written for the purpose of getting people saved… “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20.31. And the word “repent,” is never mentioned anywhere in this book. So what did God say about the way of salvation in this book? It’s this: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on whom he hath sent.” John 6.29
So forget what false religion has told you what “repentance” means. Let’s look at what God has said about this word from the bible. Enjoy the article…
First, we notice that God sometimes repented. Here are just a couple of examples, as cited from Genesis 6.6 & Exodus 32.14: “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
Obviously, God has no sin, so His repenting didn’t mean that He turned away from sin.
And next in Jonah 3.10 & Matthew 3.8, we get a bonanza of information about the meaning of works & repentance…
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” Here in this passage, we are told specifically, that turning from evil ways is “works.”
“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” We see here in Matthew, that our fruits should be “meet,” (fitting / appropriate) for our repentance; therefore our fruits are not repentance. An example would be: A Christian should exhibit love, (because he is a Christian). But his exhibition of loving God & man doesn’t justify him, it’s a fitting response because of, and appropriate to, his justification. (See Galatians 5.22-23 for fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, & temperance).
(And equally important), we know from the bible that we can’t contribute our works to our salvation, for example: Romans 4.5 & Ephesians 2.8,9.
“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
So what are we to make of the meaning of the word “repentance?” What does it mean?
“Repentance,” means a change of mind.
And how this repentance/change of mind applies to one’s salvation would be: To abandon unbelief, personal effort, personal merit, or false religion, and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ exclusively for one’s salvation.
For example, if I were to tell a professing Jew to “repent and believe the gospel.” What I would expect for him to understand in that statement is: To abandon his faith in Judaism, and to put his faith exclusively in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
And is there a sorrow affiliated with believing on Christ/repentance? I believe that it’s normal to have sorrow over our guilt when we come to Christ, (I did) … “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” 2 Corinthians 7.10.
Because (after all), when we come to Christ, we’re believing on Him because we are genuinely guilty in our sins. But the degree of sorrow & guilt consciousness can vary from person to person. And I can’t make my experience of sorrow the standard for everyone else to live up to, (that was my experience). To prove this point, here’s two biblical examples of very different mindsets upon salvation…the tax collector in Luke 18 showed great sorrow in getting saved, while the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 showed only joy in his salvation. The bottom line is, some people just have a lot more guilt on their consciousness than others. So we don’t need to be in the business of trying to quantify how much guilt a person needs to feel when they come to Christ. Let’s just leave that between them and God. Better yet, let’s celebrate the beautiful miracle that they’ve believed on Christ. 😃
But I also believe that once one’s faith has consummated in their salvation, that their sorrow should end. One look at 2 Corinthians 5.21 says it all…”For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
A heart of faith that rests in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ is the test of salvation anyway…His death, burial, & resurrection.
And one final thought for you as we close…You won’t find the phrase “repent of your sins” in the bible; it doesn’t exist biblically, (king James).
So what about our turning away from our sins? Yes, we definitely should turn away from our sins. It is always the will of God for His children to turn away from their sins. But just understand…it has nothing to do with our salvation; it’s the byproduct of our salvation as we do so in the power of the Spirit.
Blessings to you.