Biblical Repentance: 3 Important Facts You Need to Know

  • Sermons
  • 6 mins read

Most Christians have heard the word repentance. However, nowadays, this simple word has become complicated. Different people and different books have contradicting definitions of this word.

The truth about biblical repentance.

Since Christians believe that the Bible is their final authority, our definition of repentance must not be according to commentaries. It must be according to the Bible.

Scholars destroyed its meaning.

The word repentance is confusing nowadays because many scholars have complicated its biblical meaning. Of course, when I say “scholars,” I don’t mean all Bible Scholars. The sad truth is that many Christians believe what Scholars or commentators say just because of their educational degree.

I’m not against earning a higher degree in learning. But our doctrines must be based on what the Bible says, not man’s word. Many scholars teach that repentance is turning away from sins. I will prove to you later that this is not the biblical meaning of repentance.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

Galatians 1:8

Paul warned the Galatian church that if someone preaches to them a false gospel, they should not believe it regardless of the title of the preacher. Also, our doctrines are not based on what man says, irrespective of their label. Our doctrines are based on what the Bible says.

Scriptures declare its meaning.

When studying the Bible, we must understand “the law of first mention.” The very first time any important word is mentioned in the Bible. It gives that word its most complete and accurate meaning to serve as a key to understanding its biblical concept and provide a foundation for its fuller development in later parts of the Bible.

Moreover, to understand the meaning of the word repentance. We must look at the first time the Bible used the words repent, repented, and repentance.

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Exodus 13:17

And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his

Genesis 6:6

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

Hosea 13:14

In all these three verses, the meaning of “repent,” “repented,” and “repentance” is not turning away from sins. It simply means a change of mind.

The transcript about biblical repentance.

The Word of God is our transcript. It dictates what our doctrines and practices must be. At this point, we’ll look at verses that clearly define repentance as a change of mind and not turning away from sins.

Turning away from sin is considered “works,” according to the Bible.

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.

Jonah 3:10

This verse shows us that God considers turning away from sins as “works.” And we all know that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9.) Therefore, repentance cannot mean turning away from sins because if this is the meaning, it adds works to salvation.

Verses that corroborate the scriptural definition.

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:21

The emphasis of repentance is that people will change their minds toward God and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Bible times, the Hebrews believed that the way to Heaven was through their religion of Judaism through following the law. The Gentiles also believed in many different religions.

The message of Paul was for them to change their mind (repent) toward God and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, faith and repentance go together. What should people repent from?

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Hebrews 6:1

According to the Bible, people ought to repent from dead works. Dead works are the false hope of salvation. (Religion, doing good works, obeying the law.) People must change their minds from their dead works towards God and put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The tragedy of abandoning biblical repentance.

Believing that repentance means turning away from sins is not only dangerous to salvation but also hazardous to a believer’s practices.

Belief in sinless perfectionism.

This is the belief that a saved person must stop sinning as proof that he has genuinely repented. This is because they have a wrong definition of repentance. Those who believe this false teaching think that if a person is still sinning, they must not have truly repented because that person had not turned away from their sins.

However, the Bible teaches us that believers can still sin even after being saved. Even Paul mentioned his struggle with sin while still in the flesh. And John the Beloved tells us that those who say they have no sin are liars.

8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 1:8-10

Belief in lordship salvation.

This is the belief that to be saved, a person must make the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of his life, which means they must follow all his commands and turn away from their sins. Once again, this adds work to the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.

The Bible does not show us that repentance means turning away from sins. It is good to turn away from sins; everyone saved must forsake their wicked ways. However, it is not necessary for salvation. All we need to do is abandon our false hope of salvation and put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our only way to Heaven.

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