This week, I’ve really had something on my heart.
After reading a blog post on the importance of repentance, and realizing I tend to avoid the topic on my blog, I decided it best for me to explain my reasons behind not talking about it much.
I am not anti-repentance. For us to let go of our pride and accept what we know we could not earn – salvation – is a truly powerful thing.
However, I believe that we Christians often overemphasize the teaching of repentance where it really does not belong.
For starters, Hebrews 6:1 refers to repentance as an elementary doctrine. Elementary means simple. Baseline. Something that’s a building block.
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God[.]”
This verse in Hebrews tells us to leave the elementary doctrine of repentance. I believe this is such an important point, and I’ll elaborate in order to explain what I mean, though it seems confusing at first.
When we get saved, we’re usually told to repent of our sins (though I believe it’s more accurate to tell people to acknowledge the fact that they’re sinners, not to repent of every sin they’ve ever committed). We’re told to repent and receive forgiveness. But that’s not all.
We’re then told that when we sin, we must confess it to God in order to stay right with Him.
But wait a minute. I don’t see how that’s actually accurate.
We believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins, right? And we believe that He was the perfect sacrifice, covering every single one of our wrongdoings: past, present, and future, correct?
When we put such an emphasis on repenting for every one of our sins, we underscore ourselves. Going with the idea that we must apologize to God for every sin we commit after we’re saved, does that mean that if we die without confessing our last sin, we’ll go to Hell?
I know we don’t mean this, or I surely hope we don’t. What about what Jesus said, in John 10:28?
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
No one will snatch them out of my hand. That, my friends, is assurance of salvation. That when we put our trust in Jesus for salvation, we cannot lose that.
When we put such an emphasis on ourselves, and on making sure we don’t sin without confessing it, we forget about God’s grace.
Do we remember what Galatians 2:20-21 says?
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
Paul points out a few imperative things here.
1) Sin’s controlling power does not live any longer, for it is Christ’s righteousness that lives in us.
2) We live by faith, not by ‘trying harder.’
3) Our right-standing with God is not through us obeying the law; it is by grace. For if it were, Christ died pointlessly.
What’s the central message of this? Living under grace. God knows we’re not perfect, and that’s why Jesus came! For what other reason would He have come to earth? To be a ‘good moral teacher?’ No!
If we put such an emphasis on post-salvation repentance, we disregard God’s grace. We disregard the fact that when we received salvation, the righteousness of JESUS HIMSELF was poured out on us. Our sins have been removed from us completely.
See, the Bible even explicitly states it in Psalm 103:12.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”
Have you ever forgiven someone for something they’ve done to hurt you, but they still apologize profusely, even after you have assured them that it’s all good? When that happens with me, I just want to say, “Chill out! I forgive you, and we don’t need to keep revisiting what you did. I don’t hold it against you; can we move on?”
I think we forget that it’s a bit like that with God.
Jesus has forgiven all of our sins. God has pardoned every last one of them. By forcing people to repent of every sin (the ones that Jesus’ blood has already covered), we minimize the power of the cross.
We make it about us, instead of making it about Him.
And while I definitely have more to say on this, I’ll leave you with this thought in closing:
We are forgiven already. Let us move on from stressing repentance, and let’s stress His grace instead and see how important it is to live filled with the Spirit.
Come back on Saturday for part 2, where I’ll be digging deeper into what repentance should mean for us, and how to live in grace in a biblical sense.