Why I Don’t Talk Much About Repentance

Why I Don't Talk Much About Repentance

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.”

 

Colossians 2:13-14

โ€œAnd 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.โ€

 

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.

 

*aj

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19 Replies to “Why I Don’t Talk Much About Repentance”

  1. There is no better week than the week leading to Easter to emphasize the finished work of our awesome Savior Jesus who gave up His life and paid for our sin in full on the cross. True repentance that honors Him is accepting that He alone did that for me, once a sinner but now before God holy and blameless before Him in love (Ephesians 1). If we have sin then we are “called” to find our complete forgiveness in Him once and for all. We can always find sin within, true repentance is trusting in the finished work of Christ crucified and risen and then abiding in Him through the help, aid and power of His indweling Holy Spirit. Thank you Amanda for fighting the good fight of faith.

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    1. It is the perfect time. I only realized that I was Easter week after I finished writing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Forgiveness is amazing, because like you said, we can always find sin in ourselves, but God sees His Son’s righteousness in us.
      Thank you for your encouragement, Pastor Dad! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Thank you again for another beautifully written, inspirational educational blog.
    You are so very special to share what God has given you.

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  3. I’d actually never noticed that verse in Hebrews before. That’s really interesting.

    I think the role of repentance after you’re saved is to help your heart stay in the right place, to help you not have this pile of sins you’re still hanging on to. And obviously for sins that are between you and another person, we’re supposed to ask their forgiveness so bitterness doesn’t take root in our (or their) heart.

    That being said, I definitely see where you’re coming from. Asking God over and over to forgive you for something is a result of you feeling guilty, which is probably because you’re not trusting God’s work on the cross and in you. And God doesn’t want us to live in guilt. He wants us to accept that Christ’s sacrifice has already paid for our guilt and move onward to live with him.

    Looking forward to part 2!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right. It stunts our growth to deliberately sin without wanting to act differently – like Romans 7:20 says, “Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” We’re always going to battle our sinful nature while we’re here on earth. But with that, do we feed it, or do we let the Holy Spirit work in us? Do we intentionally keep on sinning because we’re covered by grace, or desire to live a fruitful life because we’ve been forgiven?
      And absolutely – we should always ask other people to forgive us, because none of us are perfect, and to never confess to others will ultimately damage our relationships with them.

      And that’s the heart of what I was trying to get at. To live in a constant state of repentance because we believe that we can’t be forgiven is living in guilt after Jesus has already forgiven us. Instead of helping us grow, it’ll only make us see our sin more and get more and more discouraged by it – though it’s already been washed away from us!

      (Ha, I got a little long there.) Thanks for your comment! Very true. And I’ll definitely go deeper into this in my next post, because I totally did not cover it all here.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good points. It is all forgiven, and we don’t need to drag out every sin constantly. I don’t think that’s exactly what people mean when they say repent and believe, though, at least, it’s not what I mean.

    Little story. My pastor’s five-year-old daughter became a Christian a few weeks ago. My pastor was stressing about explaining it all to her, especially what it means to repent. He wasn’t sure he’d done an adequate job. When they prayed with her, she said that she didn’t want to sin anymore, that she wanted to be done with it. And he realized that a five-year-old gets it. Repentance is being done with sin, wanting it cast away, not wanting to hold onto it anymore.

    Anyway, my two cents. And she was so cute when she told the congregation she was a Christian. And added “It’s fun to be one!” (This is Leisel, by the way.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right; I think that when people say, “Repent and believe,” they’re referring to getting saved, but you’d be surprised how many times people use the salvation-repentance scriptures to defend the belief that every sin committed must be confessed in order to be forgiven (even though it’s already been forgiven?).
      Not to say we should stay in sin at all, but that //because// God knows we are sinners, He forgave us.

      That’s so cool and sweet! Aww, Leisel! Good for her! That’s so great.

      I totally understand what you’re saying. When we see the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice, we //shouldn’t// want to sin any longer even though we still do, because of our sinful nature. There is a place for repentance – just not in the enslaving way that some people think. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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      1. I don’t know if I’ve personally encountered people using repentance to say you have to repent of every little sin for it to be forgiven (I probably have and just haven’t noticed), but I’m sure people do. That’s not what repentance is. There’s no way we can remember or even identify every little sin we commit. And saying that we have to repent of every sin individually is very works based and denies grace. It is finished. We have been set free. When we’re reminded of our sins, it shouldn’t be to feel guilty and beat ourselves up over it, but to point us to Jesus, so we can see how incapable we are of earning salvation ourselves and how great God’s love is that He did it for us.

        It is great. I’m very happy for her.

        People define terms wrong so often. It’s really frustrating. Repentance shouldn’t be enslaving, it should be freeing, and if everyone defined it correctly, it would be.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I was reading the comments and I totally agree that we shouldn’t dwell on our sins. However, repentance is kind of big for me. I’m Catholic, so confession and reconciliation are stressed just as much as the other sacraments. I don’t view confession as a means of dragging out our sins, though. To me, confession and repentance are very much freeing. “Go and sin no more,” Jesus said. We have been saved from the sin we commit already, but I still think repentance helps us to continue down the right path. Personally, the past sins I have committed still weigh me down, burden my conscience, dirty my soul. I know they shouldn’t, but they do. However, every time I go to confession (which is definitely not often enough), I really do feel cleansed. I also think repentance is what pushes us to sin less and less. We’re going to sin again (it’s inevitable), but having that mindset helps us to steer away from potentially committing a sin again. At least, that’s how I look at it?
    I used to think that not confessing all of your sins was fine (you were still being forgiven by God) but more and more I realize that with each sin I confess, the more freeing I feel. We won’t be condemned because we didn’t confess all of our sins (whoever says that has totally missed the whole picture). However, confession to me is the moment where I let go of my sins and get a little closer to dissolving the obstructions that are in my journey to Heaven.
    maybe you disagree or you don’t, but hopefully I made sense. Thanks as always for making me think, Amanda. Your intellect is stellar.

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    1. Hey Grace!

      I totally understand where you’re coming from though I’m not Catholic. I really hope I didn’t come off as condemning at all, because that wasn’t my intent!

      I see what you’re saying! I believe that there isn’t anything wrong with repentance; that’s not what I was trying to convey at all, yet I believe that whether we repent of every sin or not, we’re still forgiven and God sees us as clean.

      I understand what you mean by the freeing feeling of asking for God’s forgiveness. I think that in our repentance, we should just remember that we don’t need to beg God to forgive us when He already has, or feel like we’ll lose our salvation if we don’t confess. We have been made new in Christ, so we shouldn’t forget that! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate seeing your point of view on this. ๐Ÿ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh not at all! I completely understood your message! ๐Ÿ™‚ you’re right we shouldn’t feel like repentance is the end all be all, that if we don’t repent of all our individual sins we won’t be saved. I just viewed repentance has the overall “repent from sin altogether” ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for replying Amanda!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. EXACTLY! I also believe that at salvation we’re forgiven of all our sins from our past and in our future. Therefore, there is no real need for us to confess and repent of our every sin afterward.

    However, I personally find it freeing, when praying, to confess the sins I’m struggling with. I also commonly pray that I’ll seek after His will for my life and actions simply because I love Him–not for legalistic purposes. Although it isn’t spiritually needed, it makes me feel closer to God when I personally give Him /everything/ that’s going on–even the bad and embarrassing stuff.

    Awesome post!

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    1. I totally get it, Sarah! I find the same thing with my own prayers. And like I said to Grace, I don’t think repentance is a bad thing (and I certainly didn’t mean to come off that way if I did here). It’s a blessing to be able to share with God every aspect of our lives, even the things that we are ashamed of, to thank Him that the blood of Jesus covered it all, and to ask Him for His strength. I agree! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  7. Very good article. It is especially important for us as Christians to let go of sin and indeed have the mindset that we are free! Though we should live in a state of repentance (which is trust and confession before God) we shouldn’t so emphasize it as to that becoming the essence of our Christian life, since that would only lead to depression, and as you pointed out, a worry concerning a loss of salvation.

    I think of repentance as confessing our sins to one another and God, not as a trivial thing we do in order to make sure we’re saved, but as something that’s done as we walk in humility and faith before His Son.

    Keep up the good work Amanda, and I look forward to that book!

    -Liam S.

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    1. Absolutely. I didn’t mean to say that all repentance is bad – humble confession is definitely beneficial! – but when it causes us to question our holy and blameless stance before God, that’s when it becomes unbiblical. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks so much, Liam!

      Like

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