The Importance of Repentance

Today, there is such an abundance of leaven within the man-made church system. Out of the many false doctrines that are taught, one of them is that repentance is not a part of the salvation message through Yahshua our Messiah. Many have bought into the deceptive teaching that defines repentance without referring to the whole counsel of Scripture to render what it truly means.

Whenever the word “repent” is brought into a discussion, there is a lot of confusion in properly defining it. One person will believe that it simply means to “change your mind” derived from the Greek word metanoia, while the another person will firmly state that repentance means a sincere "turning away" from our carnal self to God, and that it is a matter of the mind and heart that leads to an action of moving away from sin.

What definition is correct?

What many fail to understand is that both definitions are correct because “repentance” incorporates a broader spectrum to its meaning, as found within the words of Scripture. If we don’t apply the proper contextual definition, it will lead to adhering to, or being deceived into believing one of the many false doctrines in the man-made church system.

The purpose of this article will attempt to clarify the word “repent” by letting Scripture itself define the word to delineate it in its proper context.

The Isolationists

The first problem that often arises in a discussion, or an argument concerning repentance is that the book of John does not even use the word even once; therefore, it is deemed repentance is not required for salvation. The point that the word repentance is not in there is true, but the spirit of repentance is in there. Also, if the book of John was the only book of the Bible, the claim would be fully valid. However, this is the same tactic of the many cherry-pickers of Scripture verses that isolate texts by themselves without reading the surrounding verses to understand the context. For this reason, many can be easily deceived.

We must always compare Scripture with Scripture, line upon line and precept upon precept. This is a MUST, if we are to discern true doctrine from false.

To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are WEANED FROM THE MILK, those taken from the breast? For it is PRECEPT UPON PRECEPT, precept upon precept, line upon line, LINE UPON LINE, here a little, there a little.” – Isaiah 29:9-10

YOU NEED MILK, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, SINCE HE IS A CHILD. But SOLID FOOD is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by CONSTANT PRACTICE TO DISTINGUISH GOOD FROM EVIL. – Hebrews 5:12-14

pastor feeding the pew warmer
pastor feeding the pew warmer

It should be no surprise to the discerner of Scripture that many claim to follow the Way of Christ, but they have never considered all the counsel of God’s word. Their only counsel is the milk they have been suckling off of from the religious pulpits of church hirelings. They then will zealously claim that they have their own revelation from God, but only use isolated and ambiguous parts of Scripture to prove their doctrine as the “truth.” Their typical tactics are the most common in promoting just about every false doctrine out there. This common thread ignores the precedent of precept upon precept, and line upon line.

Hopefully, we can get to the meat of repentance and chew and digest it (precept upon precept, line upon line) to get a clearer understanding of its importance and rightfully divide the word of truth to discover what it is all about.

The Ministry of Yahshua our Messiah

One of the first things we must consider is that when John the Baptist, Yahshua our Messiah and the apostles started their ministry of preaching the Gospel, they first called for repentance.

"REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” - Matthew 3:2

Jesus began to preach, and to say, REPENT – Matthew 4:17

REPENT ye, and believe the gospel – Mark 1:15

And they went out, and preached that men should REPENT. – Mark 6:12

Except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish. – Luke 3:13

Ye sorrowed to REPENTANCE… For godly sorrow worketh REPENTANCE to salvation – 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins – Acts 2:38

REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:19

But now commandeth all men every where to REPENT – Acts 17:30

Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to REPENTANCE. – 2 Peter 3:9

Even with the witness of these verses, there will still be many who will still zealously state that repentance has nothing to do with salvation. Unfortunately, they have been deceived into equating repentance as works based salvation.

The Order of Repentance

Paul shows us the order of repentance and the results of it in the following passage:

That they should REPENT and TURN TO GOD, PERFORMING DEEDS in keeping with their repentance. – Acts 22:20

We can plainly see that what is stated is this verse is that the result of repentance brings forth good fruit as a result of turning to the way of God. If you take a closer look, you will notice the order that repentance is listed in the preceding passage.

  • First, we are to repent.
  • Second, we are to turn to God
  • Third, we are to do works fitting with our repentance

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; REPENT, and do the WORKS you did at first. – Revelation 2:15

Notice in this verse that repent is separate from works, and that good works are a result of repentance.

But 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

Repentance is not only something ones does before salvation, but also is a part of our walk of salvation.

BEAR FRUIT in keeping with repentance. – Matthew 3:8

If we are bearing fruit, it shows that we are truly a believer and walking in the faith.

mental assent
mental assent

Is it Really that Simple, Just "Believe?"

People throw around the term “believe” and “faith,” but to them it is really a mental assent. We must be careful because Yahshua our Messiah dos not grant grace to anyone who makes claims to him. Mental assent is the say only crowd, but the faith crowd is both saying and doing. Grace is bestowed on those who have pride removed from their hearts and have humbled themselves through the process of repentance.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” – James 4:6

Yahshuah our Messiah did not come saying “believe” for the Kingdom of God is at hand, but said repent! I’m not saying that we should not believe, but rather true belief incorporates the necessity of repentance as a step in the right direction. The unrepentant hearts of the proud will not have access to the Kingdom of God; therefore, to deny repentance as part of salvation is making a dire mistake.

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 to them; and he did it not. – Jonah 3:10

Right here in this passage, we can specifically see that repentance means “to turn.” When the people of Nineveh “turned from their evil way,” God repented, or changed his mind from punishing them for their sin.

The Meaning of Repentance: Sackcloth and Ashes

When we look at the verses that surround Jonah 3:10 referenced above, the process and context of repentance of the King of Nineveh towards God gives a symbolic and powerful picture of the true meaning of the word.

The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, COVERED HIMSELF WITH SACKCLOTH, AND SAT IN ASHES. – Jonah 3:6

This verse gives us a vivid picture of repentance because in the Jewish culture sackcloth and ashes were symbolic of humility. Even Abraham and Jacob understood the meaning.

Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I WHO AM BUT DUST AND ASHES. – Genesis 18:27

Then Jacob tore his garments and put SACKCLOTH ON HIS LOINS and mourned for his son many days. – Genesis 37:34

Here are a few more that drive home the action of repentance.

When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on SACKCLOTH WITH ASHES… and cried with a loud and a bitter cry… there was great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and MANY LAY IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES. – Esther 4:1-3

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, THEY WOULD HAVE REPENTED LONG AGO IN SACKCLOTH AND ASHES. – Matthew 11:21

Sackcloth and ashes drive home the symbolic meaning of repentance that was not only a change of mind, but a behavioural change as well. The knowledge that we have sinned against God moral laws is one thing, but having sorrow with a humble heart that leads to walking in truth is what truly puts us back into right standing with God.

A Change of Mind and Heart

True repentance leads to a change of mind and heart. Doing something right with no heart change is not repentance. Our Messiah scolded the religious hypocrites for their “good” works because he saw their hardened prideful hearts.

You blind Pharisee! FIRST CLEAN THE INSIDE OF THE CUP AND THE PLATE, that the outside also may be clean. – Matthew 23:26

God may perhaps grant them REPENTANCE LEADING TO A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, and they may COME TO THEIR SENSES and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2:25-26

What Must I do to be Saved?

Some will cherry-pick the following verse and say that all we must do is simple “believe” without repentance.

And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?”  And they said, “BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS, AND YOU WILL BE SAVED, you and your household.” – Acts 16:29-31

Now, to simply “believe” to be saved would be true if all of Scripture was contained in these three verses, but again when we go to the context of the surrounding verses, we see that the jailor was already in the process of repentance before God. That is why Paul did not say, repent! because he was trembling in humility. The jailor did not have a hard prideful heart, but was in a condition of humility. That is why he was ready to receive his Savior and be saved.

CLOTHE YOURSELVES, ALL OF YOU, WITH HUMILITY toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5

We cannot claim to have the grace of God in our lives through Christ unless we have repentance in humility. The jailor was in a state of repentance by his behaviour; therefore, all he needed from there was Paul to point him in the right direction. Remember the order?

Let’s take a look again.

That they should REPENT and TURN TO GOD, PERFORMING DEEDS in keeping with their repentance. – Acts 22:20

  1. We are to repent.
  2. We are to turn to God
  3. We are to do works fitting with our repentance.

The jailor was at number 2 when Paul stated, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” He qualified as being truly repentant by his obvious humble state as he, “came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas.”

How many have been taught “repentance,” either by defining it with man’s definitions, or completely disregarding it all together as part of salvation?

The pride of carnal religious men defies the doctrine that was stated by our Savior. They don’t want to deal with the elephant in the room because dealing with sin will not bring in the monetary.

Many say, “I am righteous by faith!” and refer to Galatians 2 and 3 because any reference to repentance they will define as works. Their preconceived notions about repentance as a work of the law are forced into the following passages.

Yet we know that a person is NOT JUSTIFIED BY WORKS OF THE LAW BUT THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because BY WORKS OF THE LAW NO ONE WILL BE JUSTIFIED. – Galatians 2:16-18

But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to THOSE WHO BELIEVE. NOW BEFORE FAITH CAME, WE WERE HELD CAPTIVE UNDER THE LAW, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. – Galatians 3:22-23

By their interpretation, anyone who believes in repentance are still captive and striving under the works of the law.

Godly Grief and Sorrow

Those who claim that there is no connection between repentance and salvation have seriously fallen into deception. Pastors with paychecks are not going to tell you this stuff. They have pews and tithing plates to fill.

Have you noticed in the latest headlines that in the institutional church scandals are the norm?

In fact, they are really no big deal to the masses that worship their every word and move even in their disgrace. They simply “repent” by their twisted definition and are retuned back to the pulpit while the sheeple raise their false flags of “grace” thinking that they are showing "God's love." It is true that they are sorry, but they are just sorry that they got caught. They show their worldly grief in front of the cameras and upon stage, but this is an outward display of worldly grief towards the people, not to God who requires an outward and inward change.

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because YOU WERE GRIEVED INTO REPENTING. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. FOR GODLY GRIEF PRODUCES A REPENTANCE THAT LEADS TO SALVATION without regret, whereas WORLDLY GRIEF PRODUCES DEATH. – 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

True repentance is about godly sorrow that looks to a Saviour, NOT to men who offer a worldly redemption found in buildings called “churches” through false doctrines to attain salvation.

In our godly grief that we have sinned against God will lead to repentance that is coupled with an action of faith on our part that leads to being counted as righteousness. The requirements of being offered the free gift of grace through our Saviour will be met.

Yes, grace is a free gift, but our Messiah does not offer gifts to those who have prideful unrepentant hearts, but to those who are in the spirit of humility towards his Father.

It takes a humble heart to acknowledge our wickedness. A man cannot know that he needs a Savior unless he realizes that he is in need of saving from his sins. Without having godly sorrow, there will be no desire, or believing that there is a need for repentance.

When repentance is removed from the Gospel message, it only follows that true godly grief, shame, sorrow and guilt for our sins will be ignored from the pages of Scripture and deluding those into beleiving it has no bearing on our eternal state. Many are told that all they have to do is “believe” in Christ, but at the same time remove the key foundation of his teaching of repentance.

Their prideful no repentance doctrine is self-refuting. They will even tell those who believe in repentance to turn from their supposed “false” doctrine and believe in their deception instead. The irony is that they are preaching the message of repentance while at the same time denying it. You just have to shake your head sometimes.

It is God’s moral laws that expose men as sinners to point them to Christ. Having godly sorrow for breaking the law will hopefully cause as many as who will listen to seek after the one who offers salvation.

Repentance has not Changed

The definition of repentance is not just a “change of mind,” as there is more to it as we have already touched on. It is the man-made religious doctrines that try to isolate, or ignore the full scope of repentance.

The preaching of John the Baptist, Yahshua our Messiah and the apostles lines up with the same repentance of the Old testament prophets, which is to turn from our carnal ways to God’s ways.

Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, WHAT SHALL WE DO?” And he said to them, “COLLECT NO MORE THAN YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO DO.” – Luke 3:12-13

Collect no more than you are authorized” is about repentance. It is about turning from a course of stealing to walking in integrity. It is a replacement of certain behavior(s) and replacing them with right ones.

Is turning from one behavior to another works based salvation if there are requirements first?

The answer is really in the perspective, or lens we are looking through.

If repentance is something we cannot do on our own, then is it solely a miracle of God only on His part?

When we look at the full counsel of Scripture, repentance does not seem passive, but requires a response from God, but also a response on our part as well. It would seem that repentance is a mutual, or simultaneous action on behalf of ourselves and of God through His Son, Yahshua our Messiah. It is the same kind of action, or responses of the many testaments of healing in the Scriptures where the sick responding by faith by reaching out, or by stretching out their hands towards Christ. This was a response of their faith put into action, and the result brought healing in their lives.

When we are called to repent, it is about the responsive action of the individual through belief and faith that enables the person to respond with an action of the heart and mind turning away from our carnal ways. Zacchaeus is a good example of what happened when Christ called him to the faith. He responded by saying that he would repay fourfold all of the people he defrauded.

And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the HALF OF MY GOODS I GIVE TO THE POOR. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I RESTORE IT FOURFOLD.” And Jesus said to him, “TODAY SALVATION HAS COME TO THIS HOUSE, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:8-10

Do you see the amazing simultaneous work of God through His Son coupled with an action of repentance by faith that led to the salvation of Zacchaeus?

Repentance has nothing to do with any meritous works of the law to gain salvation, but it is an action of faith by turning the opposite direction one was initially going. Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin and that is why repentance and faith without works is dead.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand what repentance means in the preceding verses, yet do we really see this type of repentance happening in the lives of people who profess “Christianity” today?

Do they really repent where the fruit of it is working in their lives, or are they claiming to follow Christ while still slaves to their sin?

Wherever leaven is not purged, men will decide what “repentance” means rather than God.

Sometimes the go-to concordances and lexicons that define “repentance” cannot be trusted to give full meaning to Biblical words. They are fallible; therefore, it is imperative to first allow the Holy Spirit to help you define a particular word in Scripture. As you can see, when you dig into precept upon precept and line upon line, the term repentance used in the false mainstream church systems today does not really fit the testament and witness of letting Scripture define the word. The importance of proper exegesis of Scripture cannot be stressed enough. We do not want to be found guilty of biased eisegesis by not rightly dividing the word promoting a doctrines of dead faith.

"Thank goodness God's gonna do it all for me." "No need to repent, or do anything on my part." "All I have to do is just sit here and believe."
"Thank goodness God's gonna do it all for me." "No need to repent, or do anything on my part." "All I have to do is just sit here and believe."

Repentance is not sitting around and letting God clean your life up for you, but it takes some initiative on our part as well. God has given us free-will and we can stop whatever we are doing and turn the other way. Even those who do not have Christ in their lives can clean up their own acts by their own will, yet people who claim to follow Christ sit back and say that it’s all God’s job to deliver them. All they have to do is sit back and "believe." Many believe that they cannot truly have victory, but wait in their lounge chair of "grace" hoping soon to be raptured away from their sins.

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, it is time to do some cleaning and get our act together. Authentic faith is an attribute of taking action on our part.

WASH YOURSELVES; make yourselves clean; REMOVE THE EVIL OF YOUR DEEDS from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good – Isaiah 1:16-17

Let the wicked FORSAKE HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him RETURN to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:7

Little children, let no one deceive you. WHOEVER PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS IS RIGHTEOUS, as he is righteous. – 1 John 3:7

There will be no pardon of sins without repentance; otherwise, our faith is dead. Without repentance, we will be robbed of doing God’s will with His anointing here on earth. God is calling all of us to repent so that are hearts may be captured by truth operating in His will for our lives. Delaying repentance will only allow Satan to build strongholds in our minds that bring spiritual decay leading to a reprobate mind.

True forgiveness and freedom comes through repentance and frees the heavy weights from our hearts. The process brings transformation into a person that God wants us to be bringing forth good fruit. Repentance take a lot of courage, but returning to right standing with our Father will bring peace into our lives. Don’t forsake it as being irrelevant.

When we put the Old Testament and New Testament meaning of repentance together, we find the true meaning of repentance. It is the changing of the mind AND turning around from facing the wrong way by turning 180 degrees to facing the direction of God.

Changing our mind about being on the broad way leading to destruction without getting off it will still lead to destruction.

Changing our mind about being on the broad way AND getting off of it by changing direction and getting onto the narrow way will lead to life.

I hope this clarifies the importance of the meaning repentance and the necessity of the true Gospel message that needs to be preached today.

Repent in Both the OT and NT

(click column header to sort results)
nacham - נחם  
shub - שׁוּב  
metanoia - μετάνοια  
to regret, or feel sorry
to return or turn back
change your mind or think differently

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Comments Appreciated 3 comments

celafoe profile image

celafoe 4 months ago from Planet earth. between the oceans

thank you brother, I don't see how anyone will be able to continue in the false doctrines of men if they will read and study and learn this. You nailed the lid on the coffin .

Rich kelley profile image

Rich kelley 4 months ago from The Ekklesia


Thank you for taking the time to connect the dots. So often after the dust has settled in a debate it is the missing dots that become obvious. Intentionally not connecting dots to suit one's religious beliefs and conscious has become normal. The parables about building foundations become so important when looking at a house that looks like the leaning tower of Pizza.

The philosophical nature of the Greek language plays right into the hands of those that want to think and discuss everything without any action or change on their part. Most students of the bible are proud in that they have taken the time to open a Greek lexicon and determine the meaning of the Greek word for repent. The failure of their effort happens when they are willing to accept a Greek translation of the actions required of the Hebrew God. Some how changing your mind that something is wrong becomes all that is required for acceptance. The I think there for I am (Cogito ergo sum) becomes the mantra.

Walk the talk is said with scripture when Christ says "if you love me, you will obey my commandments". The parents of children today cannot tell their children if you love me you will do what I say, they fear rejection from the disobedient more than acceptance from God. This one statement by Christ is the cornerstone that the thinking man rejects when they build their house with statements like, I'm ok you are ok. The worship and love of a God that never changes starts with obedience, not I'll think about it.

PlanksandNails profile image

PlanksandNails 4 months ago from among the called out of the ekklesia of Christ Author


I believe repentance separates the wheat from the tares. There are two groups of people. One group is what I would call the freeloaders. They WANT the free gift out their own selfish desires. The other group are the ones who NEED the free gift. From many years of serving people because of a certain need, I can tell the difference between the WANT and the NEEDS crowd. One takes advantage of the opportunity to receive a free gift, and the other desperately needs the free gift. It's easy to discern between the two by their behaviours.

In a spiritual sense, repentance is the factor on whether the grace of God is given or not. Many want it and think they have it, but they don't understand that in order to receive it requires humility. It is in a humble state that we come to know our NEED.

The free gift grace does not cost anything, but their is a condition on our part. In the religious man-made system, they dole out their artificial "grace" to anybody. They are slick in their marketing tactics by making you want it and become addicted to it. Everybody wants cotton-candy "grace" these days, but true grace comes out of a dire need through repentance.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the HUMBLE.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. HUMBLE yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. - James 4:6-10

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