everywhere need to repent: they need to come to their senses and admit,
God is Holy, they are sinful and God is just to condemn them for their
sin. Related to our understanding of what a person needs to change their mind about is another question...B. What is the relationship between a change of mind and a change of life?
have seen that repentance is a change in the attitude of a person’s
MIND towards God, which is necessary for salvation. But as well as a
change of mind could repentance also mean, a change of life or
lifestyle? In other words, do the Scriptures support a view that
repentance means to, "turn from sin" and that you need to turn from sin
to be saved?
Our answer is that while turning from sin to doing
good is the expected OUTCOME of repentance it is not the SAME as
repentance and it is not therefore necessary for salvation. Here's
Apart from the fact that the word "repent" does not mean,
"turn from sin", turning from sin (the fruit of repentance) is not
always evident (obvious, visible) in the ways expected. Who of you
reading this as Christians can honestly say that you have turned from
all your sins, once and for all. Are there not some sins that still
hang on years or even decades after you repented (changed your mind
towards God, self and sin) and put your trust in Christ for salvation?
Because of this reality in the Christian life that even the apostle Paul
admitted he struggled with (Romans 7:18-20), there are many places in
the Bible that exhort "saints" (Christians) who had repented
(Romans 1:7), to also
turn from sins (Romans 6:1-2). They were saved, but still needed sanctified.
change of MIND towards God, is expected to lead to changes in your LIFE
towards God but that does not always happen. If a person says they
have repented and trusted Christ for salvation but continue to struggle,
for example, with the sin of "gossip", does this mean that person is
not saved? No, not necessarily. They could be a false convert but
they could also be a Christian who has struggled to produce fruit in
keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8). Who doesn't!
There was a
whole city of Christians in the Bible who struggled to produce fruit
worthy of repentance. The Corinthians! In his first letter to these
people, Paul addresses them as "saints" (those made holy by the blood of
Christ), true Christians (1 Corinthians 1:2). Along with other
Gentiles these converted Gentiles living in Corinth (one of the most
morally corrupt cities at that time) had been granted repentance unto
life (Acts 11:18). However
they were were not producing fruit worthy of repentance (eg. 1
Corinthians 6:5-6). They were in fact very carnal and controlled by
worldly desires (1 Corinthians 5:1). Despite their carnal lives, the
Bible makes it clear that they were "sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1
Corinthians 1:2) which is only possible through repentance (Luke 3:3)
and faith (Acts 10:43).
If the Corinthian Christians needed to turn from their sins as a condition
for salvation, then Paul would not have addressed them as sanctified saints.
is important to note that while repentance (a change in the attitude of
your mind towards God) is a condition of salvation; turning from sin
(changes in your life) are not. Repentance (a change of mind towards
God) is a condition for salvation, turning from sin (a change of life)
is not. So it is not possible to claim that repentance means to "turn
from your sins". If you needed to "turn from sin" to be saved, no one
would be saved!!!
No amount of turning from sin/evil and doing
good will save you otherwise that would be salvation by your own merit
(good works do not save - Ephesians 2:8-10). However, while "repent"
does not mean to turn from sin, it does prepare the way for turning from
sin. This is why the Bible speaks of fruit/works "meet for repentance"
(Acts 26:20; Matthew 3:8). Turning from
sin is the next step after repenting and turning to
The Bible describes the relationship between a change of mind and a change of life like this: "Repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance"
(a change in the attitude of your mind about God, self and sin)
(2) and turn to God
and (faith in Jesus is implied: Hebrews 11:6; Acts 21:20)
(3) and do works (
produce fruit - Matthew 3:8) meet for repentance
notice that doing works worthy of repentance comes AFTER repentance AND
turning to God. Repentance first. Turning to God next. Then works.
Numbers 1 and 2 above are necessary conditions for salvation (Mark
1:15). Number three (works) is not. See more on this below under the
heading about "meet for repentance".
The following Scriptures are
examples of showing that repentance is not the same as turning from
sin. They show that repentance comes BEFORE turning from sin and that
turning from sin is a specific thing that flows on AFTER and out of
repentance; just like baptism and belief come AFTER repentance.
Repent ye AND believe
the gospel (Mark 1:15)
turn to God (Acts 2:38)
do works meet for repentance (Acts 26:20)
bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: (Matthew 3:8)
do the first works (Revelation 2:5)
turn [yourselves] from all your transgressions (Ezekiel 18:30)
turn [yourselves] from your idols; (Ezekiel 14:6)
turn away your faces from all your abominations. (Ezekiel 14:6)
make supplication [pray] unto thee (1 Kings 8:47)
went [and worked in his father’s vineyard] (Matthew 21:29)
be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of
refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:19
(“Repent ye therefore and be converted….”)
Before anyone can:
believe the gospel, be baptized, turn to God, do works “meet” for
repentance, turn from transgressions, pray in a way that makes prayer
acceptable to God, be converted…. THEY MUST REPENT! They must have a
change of mind about God, self and sin.
NONE OF THESE THINGS
associated with repentance (eg. baptism, turning from transgressions,
prayer, believing) actually mean repentance (a change of mind). They
are instead, the RESULT of a change of mind (towards God). So it is not
sound doctrine to say that repentance means or is equal to turning from
sin any more than to say that repentance means or is equal to baptism
or prayer! And it is certainly not sound doctrine to say that you need
to turn from sin as a condition for salvation.
The Bible has made
a very clear distinction between repentance and the things that flow
from repentance. The Bible puts it like this: "Repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance"