Step 2 - Repentance
“...unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
These words of Christ emphasize how He felt about repentance. He wouldn't
have taught on it as much as He did if it weren't important. We must
properly understand repentance.
Webster defines repentance as “...to change from past evil.” It is a
change of mind and will, a change of one's inner resolve to stop doing
what is wrong and to begin doing what is right. This is the working of
one's conscience. If our conscience is not affected by the things we do
and say, we will not change (1 Tim. 4:1-2). A conscience
continually deadened and dulled by sin will not allow repentance.
True repentance is quite a bit more than just feeling sorry for some wrong
we have done. Many times, we are only sorry because we got caught. Yet,
the apostle Paul teaches in 2 Cor. 7:8-11 that godly sorrow is
being sorry enough to the point of repentance, or the changing of our own
ways to the ways of God. Notice the following from this passage:
Godly sorrow leads to repentance (v. 9)
Repentance is to, or
towards, salvation (v. 10)
not misunderstand. Paul is not teaching that we are completely saved when
we repent. There are other commands from God that we must comply with in
order to be saved. Repentance is but one step towards our goal of
salvation. If one can adopt a "faith only" salvation (previous
article), then one could equally advocate a "repentance only"
salvation. If not, why not? The trouble with both of these concepts is
that the Scripture does not teach either one. We are not
saved at the point of repentance any more than we are saved at the point
Repentance can many times mean hard choices. Turning away from sin sounds
like a choice everyone would want to make. However, the choice to forsake
sin is often a hard one due to unpleasant consequences. In Ezra 9-10,
the Israelites were told to divorce wives they had no right to marry due
to the Law of Moses (Deut. 7:3-4). This was a hard choice, but a
necessary one to please God.
Paul states with certainty that “…the goodness of God leads you to
repentance” (Rom. 2:4). The correct view of repentance is that God
expects all who desire salvation to repent (Acts 17:30). This
requires learning what His word teaches, comparing our lives to what He
has said, and then making the necessary changes so that we are doing what
He said. Only then can we have true repentance.
- Jeff Smith
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