Some have said that there is no need for Christians to repent because Jesus forgave sin once--for all past, present and future. According to the Bible, the latter is true. However, does this mean that Christians never have to repent again? I suppose it would depend on what one means by repentance.
This subject has caused many believers to be confused and has left them wondering what to do with their sorrow over sin.
Before we move on to what Scripture has to say, it is important to look at the meaning of the following words:
CONFESSION = Acknowledgment of wrongdoing; admission of guilt to the law; or to God.
REPENTANCE = To feel sorry for what one has done or failed to do; to feel such regret so as to change ones ways.
LAMENT = To express deep regret and sorrow with weeping and mourning to grieve over ones actions, or a death of a person.
It seems to me that these words imply asking for forgiveness and apologizing for ones actions. In other words, in order to confess something, there needs to be one to whom you confess.
When you are sorry for hurting someone, is it enough to know he or she has forgiven you - therefore, you do not need to bring it up? Do you believe your relationship will not suffer loss and you can continue as if nothing has happened? I do not believe so. It is obvious that we go to the person and apologize.
In order to answer this question, we must understand that there are two types of repentance spoken of in the Bible.
1) Repentance unto salvation
2) Repentance unto restoration
REPENTANCE UNTO SALVATION
"But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (That is the word of faith which we preach): That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:8-10,13
When we confess for the first time that Jesus is Lord, we acknowledge our need for Him. We repent of our old ways and begin to walk in the newness of life. This kind of confession and repentance is a one-time action.
" In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory." Ephesians 1:13-14
There is no need to ask God to save us every time we sin. This would be like saying He did not do it the first time. Salvation comes by confessing Christ. We accept by faith that He did and we know He did because we now have the Spirit of God living in us. We know this because we begin to see our sin and the need to weed behaviors and attitudes from our lives. This is known as the sanctification process.
(NOTE: There are two perspectives spoken of in the Bible: God's perspective and man's perspective. This is important in understanding this and many other doctrines of the Bible.)
Romans 8:29-30 tells us that God has justified us. Meaning, we are already clean and pure in His eyes through Christ. (Past tense - God's point of view)
However, 1John 3:3 tells us that anyone who has this hope (Christ), purifies himself just as He is pure. (Continual process.)
So is this a contradiction? No rather, the second is man's point of view. We are simply catching up with what God already sees.
REPENTANCE UNTO RESTORATION AND PURIFICATION (Sanctification process.)
Other than Acts, Ephesians, and Romans, the books in the New Testament are corrective in nature, as they were written to correct the church (body of Christ) as they strayed from the doctrine that was first delivered to them.
When we are in a state of sin, we are in darkness (1 John 1:5-7). We are told in the book of 1 John that darkness has no fellowship with light. It is our sin that separates us from God; not that God moved, but we have removed ourselves from fellowship. This is why John tells us in verse 8 that, "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Therefore, confession and repentance (for the Christian) is for the sole purpose of restoring our fellowship with God. It is saying, "Lord, thank you for showing me my sin, I desire to be free, I repent and I thank You for Your forgiveness." Once we have come clean before the Lord, we have peace.
As we look through the New Testament, we find many passages that exhort believers to examine their selves to see if they are in the faith. Yet, the most compelling of them all, is the fact that Jesus Himself, calls the church to repent.
Let us look at the following passages of Scripture beginning with the words of Jesus.
"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember, therefore from where you have fallen, repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place unless you repent. Rev 2:5
"But I have a few things against you. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.." Rev 2:14a, 16
"I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent" Rev 3:2-3
Jesus spoke these words to the church. Therefore, it is clear that He requires repentance on the believers’ part when he reveals sin.
Still, are there other passages that promote repentance for a clear conscience? Let us look at a few more passages.
(Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 for complete context)
"For Godly sorrow proceeds repentance leading to salvation. For observe this very thing ,that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignations, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all these things, you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2 Cor 7:10-11
This salvation is not the salvation from hell, remember, he is talking to believers, therefore, they were already saved. This salvation in context, is speaking of the freedom from guilt; they are "saved" from their guilty conscience. The Corinthian church was full of carnality and Paul rebuked them in order to stir their hearts to repentance. He rejoiced because their fellowship with God had been restored.
"Therefore submit 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. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:7-10
Consider the parable of the prodigal son: He was already a son; his repentance was not unto salvation, but unto purification and restoration.
In conclusion, repentance unto salvation is a one time event . Repentance for a clear conscience of subsequent sin after salvation is always on an as needed basis.
© Teresa Ortiz 2008; Revised 2009
» left by Marijo Phelps from mountain meadow CO (3 years 234 days ago.)
Good meat Teresa! Another chapter? MarijoRespond to this comment
» left by Anonymous (3 years 233 days ago.)
Hi Marijo, glad you liked it. Yes, more to follow. Just have to get my bearings straight and pull out old notes and put them in an order that would be considered a lesson :-)
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» left by paul schroeder from nyc (3 years 233 days ago.)
Teresa,(which means"harvester") this essay, submitted on the eve of Yom Kippur,the Jewish High Holy Day of repentence and fasting,that our Christ knew full well,that,according to the laws that HE observed,as a devout Jew, must occur regularly,not on a one time basis<but at least once a year,formally.I would go a step further,and state that repentence should be an on-going,self reflective task,daily.PaulRespond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,352) (3 years 233 days ago.)
Hi Paul, in the old covenant, I agree completely. This to me is one of the many beautiful things about Jesus, that He came to fulfill all the old testament laws, especially the one regarding the day of atonement. Jesus being the perfect Lamb of God, gave himself as the sacrifice and atonement for sin, taking on the sin of all people once for all, so that no more blood of animals were required and that He himself entered the Holy of Holies and has been seated at the right hand of the Father signifying the completed work of God. You are right and as I mentioned, repentance is an on-going task, for our hearts to be right before God, But the price for sin has been paid and is no longer required that once a year the levitical priest kill the sacrificial lamb. As the book of Hebrews so amazingly teaches that Jesus is the pure and high priest, the Messiah and mediator of the New Covenant.
The prayer for salvation is only required once, as the Bible teaches.
Thank you for your kind comment. Blessings to you. Teresa
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» left by Linda DeWitt from Ca. (3 years 233 days ago.)
Enjoyed your article very much. Thanks for sharing.Linda DRespond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,352) (3 years 233 days ago.)
Hi Linda! How are you doing? Are things settling down for you? I have missed you and reading your work. Hope to see some new work soon. Thanks for reading, I am glad you enjoyed this lesson. Blessings to you! Teresa
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» left by Lance Ponder(62) (3 years 231 days ago.)
//REPENTANCE = To feel sorry for what one has done or failed to do; to feel such regret so as to change ones ways. //Sorry, but I'm afraid I have to disagree. Esau regretted, but was not repentant. Repentance is not an emotional reaction. It is something much deeper. It literally means to change your mind and your ways. To repent means to change your mind such that you stop going your way and start going God's way. While I think your overall post is well written, I think the premise is built on a misunderstanding of this term and so any argument I would make with other statements in the post would come back to your definition of terms. Sorry to be wet blanket, but I just call them as I see them. ;-)Respond to this comment
» left by Teresa(1,352) (3 years 231 days ago.)
Hi Lance, you are correct, I should have added that here. Even deeper it is technically a military term, - kind of like about face - to turn away from and never look back. But Scripture also speaks of Godly sorrow and how that leads to repentance. One must first recognize they are a sinner before they can repent. Emotions are part of that process. Until the Holy Spirit convicts our heart and speaks to our conscience, we cannot experience godly sorrow this is where confession comes in -- in that we recognize and agree with God that we have sinned. In this we repent and are cleansed from sin.
When I first shared this piece, I was speaking to a group on non-believers and new Christians, so it was received as you see it. There is two kinds of sorrow. One, sorry we got caught = no repentance = no cleansing. Two, the sorrow and guilt over sinning against a holy God, our Father = confession and repentance = cleansing.
I should have changed this context, sharing here on word-wide. Thanks for pointing this out. I appreciate it. No wet blankets - only good discussion that brings greater meaning to the word - I do the same :-)
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» left by Lydia Najera from Spangle, Washington (3 years 230 days ago.)We appreciate your comments!
Teresa this is on a selfish note: I am honerd and blessed to have you back in my life. Yor messages always knows how to find any ones heart no matter what. Thank you for your love and surport. Love alway LydiaRespond to this comment