Repentance: Confess, Turn, Persevere

English: Manasseh's Sin and Repentance; as in ...Repentance: Confess, Turn, Persevere

James R. Aist

Introduction

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

There is a belief within the Christian church that repentance from sins is not necessary for salvation. This belief is a heresy called “antinomianism” that can be traced back to the Pauline letters. Antinomianism holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. What this heresy has right is that whatever the Bible calls “sin” is, in fact, sin. However, the denial of the need for repentance of that sin in order to go to heaven flies in the face of the biblical witness. John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul all taught that repentance is mandatory, not optional (Luke 13:1-5, Acts 13:24, Acts 26:20, 2 Peter 3:9).  In fact, Jesus began his ministry preaching repentance leading to salvation: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news! (Mark 1:14-16). After His ascension, Jesus prophesied that, going forward, repentance would be a requirement for the forgiveness of sins: “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:46-47). Jesus came preaching repentance from sin, not acceptance of sin (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:32), and He was still calling for repentance after his ascension into heaven (Revelation 2, 3). According to the Bible, repentance is for the forgiveness of sins (Mark 1:4, Luke 24:27; Luke 24:46-47) and for salvation (Acts 11:8, Acts 20:21, 2 Peter 3:9). Because repentance is such an essential element in the salvation process, it is important to understand what genuine repentance really is and how it comes about.

Confess

The first step on the road to repentance is to agree with God that what you have done is wrong, i.e., that it is “sin” (1 John 1:9). This may be experienced as Godly sorrow and/or a change of heart regarding your sin (2 Corinthians 7:10, 1 Kings 8:46-47). As a result, you will feel compelled to confess in your mind and with your mouth that you have sinned (2 Samuel 12:12-13).

Turn

The second step on the road to repentance is to actually turn from your sin (2 Chronicles 7:14, Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20). That means that you make a quality decision to stop doing the sinful thing you have been doing and then follow through on your decision and stop doing it. This is where the genuineness of your commitment to your decision is tested and proven; it’s the really hard part. We are all familiar with the phrase “Actions speak louder than words”, and Jesus said “By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). Without turning, your confession is, at best, questionable and to no avail.

Persevere

The third and most rewarding step on the road to repentance is perseverance. It is common experience to be tempted to return to our old, sinful ways after we have turned from them. Unfortunately, it is also common experience to give in to such temptations by choosing to do so (James 1:13-14). But God will give us the strength to resist temptation when we submit ourselves to Him and resist the Devil (James 4:7). To really conquer sin means not only to confess and turn from it initially, but also to persevere in our repentance to the end.

Repentance Is a Process

When we become born-again, all of our past sins are instantly forgiven. We refer to that wholesale forgiveness event as “justification.”  But, sadly, we remain vulnerable to various temptations that can lead us to sin again (1 John 1:10). Over time, the Holy Spirit, with our cooperation, cleanses us from more and more of our remaining sins in a process called “sanctification”, whereby we are convicted of a residual sin, confess it (1 John 1:9), turn away from it and, eventually, conquer it. This is why we born-again Christians often detect sin in both ourselves and in our fellow believers, even though we are already “saved”; these are simply sins that we have not yet allowed the Holy Spirit to cleanse us of. The presence of such sins in our lives does not mean, necessarily, that we are not really saved; it may just mean that we are still a “work in progress.” So, let’s be patient and forgiving toward one another as we travel the road to repentance. It’s a busy and crowded road indeed!

Summary

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)

The “Gay Gospel”

Reverend Melvin MillerThe “Gay Gospel”

James R. Aist

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

The word “gospel” means “good news”. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is the best good news ever for mankind, and it is for everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation. This is the only real Gospel, and for it to be real and effective in a person’s life, there must be repentance from sins (1 John 3:10; 2 Timothy 2:19). The “gay gospel” holds that one can be a Christian, never turn away from the sin of homosexual behavior, and still enjoy eternity in heaven with Jesus. Now any gospel that is not faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible is the gospel of “a different Jesus”. Let’s see what the Bible has to say about a “different gospel” and a “different Jesus”: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). This is how we can know that Satan is using the “gay gospel” to get Christians who are homosexual to continue to practice homosexuality, feel good about it, and end up in hell, rather than repent of it.

This “gay gospel” is not only a “different gospel”: it is also a heresy called “antinomianism” that can be traced back to the Pauline letters. Antinomianism holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation. What this heresy has right is that homosexual behavior is sin. However, the denial of the need for repentance of that sin in order to go to heaven flies in the face of the biblical witness. Jesus began his ministry preaching repentance leading to salvation: “After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:14-16). Jesus did not come to save us and our sins, but to save us from our sins. Now, consider these additional Bible passages concerning the requirement for repentance:

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” — Jesus Christ (Mark 8:36).

“Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2);

Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” (Romans 3:31);

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1 John 1:6);

“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4-6);

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

Does any of that give the impression that anyone can deliberately keep on sinning until they die and still inherit eternal life? Quite the contrary! What it does say is that no one who goes on sinning deliberately has either seen Jesus or known Jesus (i.e., they are not really true believers) and that they can expect only judgment and the fury of a consuming fire when they die (that doesn’t sound like heaven to me!).

And here’s the clincher: “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Here, Paul declares, point blank, that people who are living a homosexual lifestyle will not go to heaven. God has not given a special dispensation (to keep on sinning) to homosexual people because they have sexual attractions for members of their own gender or because they don’t want to repent! We are all – regardless of the nature of our sins — subject to the requirement for repentance of sins in order to receive the Good News (salvation)! So here we are, faced with a choice: Do we believe the doctrine of God, or do we believe the doctrine of men? Let’s go with God on this one.

There is only one, true Gospel of Jesus Christ! So if you are a homosexual Christian who is trusting in the “gay gospel” to get you to heaven, you may want to re-think that. I certainly hope you will. Remember the words of Jesus: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).

Finally, I would guess that very few Christians are aware that the Bible has stern rebukes and dire warnings for those who approve of sin or encourage others to sin, but it does (Leviticus 19:1; Isaiah 5:20; Malachi 2:17; Matthew 5:19-20; Matthew 18:6; Romans 14:22). Thus, anyone, including born-again Christians, who even approves of or encourages the sins of homosexuality will, someday, have to answer to God for it. If that’s you, then now is the time to repent!

Do It Yourself

Here’s how to do a study of the Hebrew and Greek root words used in the Bible to express God’s views on homosexuality, without being a Hebrew or Greek scholar yourself: 1) find online and open “Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance” at “Bible Study Tools” (click HERE); 2) follow the instructions given in the introductory pane; 3) check the “Strong’s Numbers” box at the top right of your reading pane to view the Hebrew and Greek lexicons using Strong’s Concordance numbers; 4) enter, in turn, the following Bible verses — Genesis 19:5 with Jude 1:7; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9-10; and I Timothy 1:10 — and click on the respective highlighted words (hyperlinks) to access the appropriate lexicon and read the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek words given in English. You can toggle between the King James Version (KJV) and the New American Standard (NAS) version. You will find, as expected, that wherever homosexual behavior is mentioned, it is consistently condemned as sin, abomination, per-version, etc. And understand that later English versions of the Bible, such as the NIV and MEV, consulted the ancient Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, rather than relying solely on the KJV. The claim of gay activists – that the Bible does not condemn homosexual behavior – is nothing but pure fantasy and wishful thinking, as you can see for yourself.

(For more articles on HOMOSEXUALITY, click HERE)