Newly updated: 16th July, 2011.
Hello there, I’ve done alot of thinking about this since Glory & Grace in Sydney in March 2008 and trying to work it out in my own life. Here is what I’ve come to a conclusion with regard to Repentance and I welcome your comments. I believe one cannnot understand what Repentance is if they cannot understand God’s Grace and the New Covenant that you and I live under today. We are no longer living under the dispensation of the Old Covenant. The Old Covenant stopped when Jesus shed His Blood, the New Covenant was initiated at the Last Supper and begun when Jesus shed His Blood as the Establishment of the Covenant, and it was Completed on the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit was given.
Is New covenant repentance different from New covenant repentance?
Yes, of course, because its a different Covenant. Everything must be interpreted within the Covenants. There is so much confusion of covenants and mixture of law of and grace preached in the body of Christ.
There is 8 different covenants in the bible, and all Scriptures must be interpreted within the Covenants to get the correct meaning.
The Application of repentance under the Old and New Covenant are different.
Here are some examples of “God repenting”, King James Version:
The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD.
1 Chronicles 21:15
And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
What does God need to Repent of?
Does God need to repent of Sin? No!! of course not- God does not Sin, that is blasphemy to say that of God.
Repentance means a ‘Change of mind’, God simply “changed His mind” that he would not destroy the people because of the evil they had done. Under Old Covenant, people’s sins were covered temporary, but when Jesus came, all our sins past present and future were punished Once and for All on Jesus our Substitutionary Lamb of God, who takes “away The Sins of the World”. God could not be angry with the world again (Isa 54:9;10), because He already punished All our sins on Jesus and Now He is Not counting the world’s sins against them!! (2Cor 5:19) Woohoo!!!
Except on one issue: the Change of mind about the Law of Moses- which was a unit, the complete set of 613 commandments God handwritten on the tablets of stone. (For more info: please read my document “What is the purpose of the law?” http://gracerevolution.co.nz/2008/04/29/what-was-the-purpose-of-the-law/)
Repentance is not ‘good works’, ‘trying to do something or turn from sin’ as most preacher’s will tell you, put on you external behavioural modification principles to try to change man from the outside but have no ability to change the inner man.
I believe there is alot of confusion about what Repentance is. It has resulted from a mixture of Law and Grace preached in the Church worldwide- that’s why we think repentance is tryin to do something, but Grace is a free gift, so repentance and faith seems to contradict one another???
Repentance is NOT good works; otherwise we are no longer saved by Grace. Grace is a free gift.
So, what is repentance then?
Under the Old Covenant system means that people have to keep a complete set of rules, laws, regulations Perfectly to work to please God and earn the blessings.
The New Covenant means that God is pleased with us and gives us the blessings when we believe/faith in the gift of His Son Jesus, His Righteousness Nature and Perfect Record- the free gift of right standing with God apart from works. Grace is what God does for us completely independant of our actions. Faith is simply a positive response to what God has Already done on the Cross 2000 years ago through Jesus, He forgave us All our Sins even before we were even born and had committed any transgressions!! All you have to do believe and Receive!! For more, listen to Andrew Wommack’s teaching on “The balance of Grace and Faith”,
Under the context of the two different major covenants in the bible, Repentance will be interpreted under those covenants:
Old covenant (Law of Moses keeping) repentance was to try turn from your wrong doing and come under the law of Moses again to keep the commandments and in order to be righteous, to earn a right standing before God (Deuteronomy 6:25), to be self-righteous- it’s all about what you do for God. The Law brings condemnation and wrath and you actually can’t live Holy truly from the inward parts; i.e. the Pharisees were able to avoid committing adultery physically, but they could look with lusts and its still the same as adultery in God’s eyes because the law simply stirred up sin in their lives.
Example of Old Covenant repentance.
Isaiah 55:7 The wicked need to abandon their lifestyle
They should return to the Lord, and he will show mercy to them,
and to their God, for he will freely forgive them.
New covenant(Jesus Crucified for you Type) repentance is about turning away from the law as a means to attain righteousness, turning away from self-righteousness, and turn to turn to the Grace of God and Receive His Gift of Righteousness Perfect Record as a Gift through Faith- it’s all about what God has Already done for you!! The result of this change of mind will manifest in Holy and Righteous living through receiving His Grace which is gives you power, knowing that He loves you as his own child, it changes you from the inside – out, grace give you power to partner with God in relationship to live your lives in devotion to Him and say no to ungodliness (Titus 2:11-14)
Acts 16:30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 16:32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with all those who were in his house.
Paul didn’t tell them to repent, but he told them ‘to believe’. Repentance and faith is synominously in the new testament.
Repentance in the New Covenant is Simply to believe in the Truth about something.
In the New Testament, the word for Repentance is ‘to change one’s mind.’
Repentance in the New Testament
Gk metanoeo 3340 Strongs Concordance
To think differently, or afterwards, i.e. reconsider.
Is about changing your mind, change your attitude and the way you think; come to your senses. It is all about the mind, not about doing anything. Change your mind and believe that Jesus did the Perfect good works on your behalf. In the New Covenant, God’s Children no longer have a sinful nature but becomes reborn, have a new creation. Your Spirit becomes recreated, perfectly Righteous (Ephesians 4:25; 2Cor 5:21), its just that your soul/mind/emotions isn’t fully renewed yet; your body is neutral, its neither good nor evil, both your soul and body has been purchased by the blood of Jesus but not fully redeemed yet. When your soul agrees with your Spirit, the Spirit man is able to take over the whole body and manifest its holy power in your body. More on that teaching by Andrew Wommack: Spirit, soul and body. http://www.awmi.net/extra/audio/1027
And you will know and desires things of God naturally- you will automatically know what to do (Hebrews 8:10-12) from the Spirit of God that is within you, but you will NOT do them to EARN the blessings because you have ALREADY been BLESSED through Jesus. It’s easy to know and want to do God’s will because we’re a new creation in Christ.
Repentance is an inward change of mind that will eventually change the outward behaviour of a person.
To Summarise :
Repentance in the Old Covenant is ‘to turn from your sin’, because you are under the law- an performance based mentality to earn Righteousness-an right standing with God (Deut 6:25). Repentance in the New Covenant is ‘to believe in Jesus’ (Romans 3:20-24; 5:1-2, Galatians 2:15-21;3:1-14, Ephesians 2:8-9), because Jesus repented on your behalf when He went through the baptism of repentance at Jordan river,. Jesus never sinned, and He removed your record of sins and destroyed/crucified your sinful nature on the cross, so you are now Perfect, Not Guilty and Evil-Free!! So that if you believe in Him, you will become a new Creation and All your sins are Removed. That is the best way to ‘turn from your sin’, by trusting in the One Who Removed your sinful nature and imperfect record. This is how you ‘turn from sin’ in the New Covenant: is to believe and receive His Perfect Record!! Because you could never achieve a Perfect record under the law by your own works, or turning from your own sin. But Jesus achieved it for you, the sinless immaculate Son of God repented on your behalf by being perfectly obedient to the Law.
So if you believe/trust in Him, YOU HAVE ALREADY REPENTED!!
“Old Covenant repentance is turn from your sin, and obtain self-righteousness by law keeping (set of rules and laws); New Covenant repentance is to turn away from self-righteousness by the law, and receive God’s Gift of Righteousness by faith!! “
Isaiah 53:6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him
When we are telling unbelievers ‘To Repent’, we are not telling them ‘To turn from sin’, but we are telling them to change of mind which RESULTS in the change of direction of their lives- turning to God. Simply tell someone, “Stop sinning!! turn from Sin!!” does not give them the power to overcome sin.
We are telling them that Jesus died for All their sins, He was punished for their every sin, so the Only sin Jesus couldn’t die for was the sin of Unbelief. We are telling them to change their minds and believe and they will be saved.
John the baptist was giving a baptism of repentance (Luke 3:3), and when Jesus was baptised He was repenting on your behalf. He repented for your sins by keeping the Law perfecting, not sinning once. Then all you have to do is believe and receive His Perfect Record!
Repentance for an unbeliever and a believer is different.
Repentance for an unbeliever is for receiving salvation, repentance for an believer is simply for him to realise who he/she is in Christ and then the actions will follow.
Repentance is different for an unbeliever because he is sin conscious in his unsaved state. When he repents and receives Christ, he becomes Righteous conscious, realising that Jesus is his Righteousness (Right standing with God), he cannot earn a right standing with God by his works of law.
Repentance for an believer is different to an unbeliever, because he is or ought to be Righteous conscious, and when he repents (changes his mind), he is simply realising or becoming more righteous conscious then he already is. A believer is no longer ‘under condemnation, never not possible, in Christ’ Romans 8:1. Repentance cannot mean to become ‘sin conscious’, because he is ‘righteousness conscious’.
All repentance is for a believer is to become “Righteous conscious”, realising and reminding yourself that “I’m the Righteousness, the Perfect record of God in Christ Jesus!” and then the change in lifestyle follows.
Repentance doesn’t always include regret or godly sorrow, it depends on the situation. When God repented, He did not feel sorrowful. Unbelievers when they receive salvation, they should sorrowful and grateful at the same time. When a believer realises that he is the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and that he right with God by faith, he can feel joyful! Its a just a change of mind.
7for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
What do we need to change our mind about?
There are 3 areas that people change their mind about, the first and the third one applies more to an unbeliever while the second constantly needs to be reminded for the believer:
1) About Sin. Once we thought ’sin’ wasn’t that bad, and then someone shares the Good News with us. We saw the Law of God and couldn’t believe how far we have fallen from his standards. We saw that ’sin’ isn’t just pleasure, but it was a crime before God, its actually bad for your body and soul and it hurts people involved and breeds bad consequences. We then realised that sin is bad, it leads to physical death- Romans 6:23, and ‘liars and sexually immoral will have their part in the lake of fire which is the second death’ Rev 21:8 – Eternal separation from the Loving God in utter darkness and torment. We realised that just as criminals deserve to be punished in a court of law, so we realised that we deserve nothing but death and hell for what we’ve done to God and other people.
But then we realised how much God loved us, that He would send His Only Begotten Son Jesus to take the punishment for all our lying, stealing, adultery – even while we were still sinners He expressed His love for us. That makes me feel sad about my wrong doing. I realised that my sins hurt God and sent him to the Cross. I don’t want to do those things anymore that hurt him. Jesus identified with my Sin, He clothed HImself with my Sin, and gave me His Cloak of Right standing with God. It’s the Grace of God that ‘teaches us to say no to ungodliness…’.
Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. 16 2:12 It trains us 17 to reject godless ways 18 and worldly desires and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,
Remember 2 Cor 7:10 says that ‘it’s Godly sorrow that leads us to repentance’. When you hear the Gospel preached, that the Creator of the Universe died a substitutionary death for you sins and you understand that the wages of sin is death, then a Godly sorrow will come upon you, and you will have a change of mind and a change of heart. This is repentance.
2) About the Law. Once I thought I could please God and earn my way to heaven with my own good works, now I realised how sinful I really was inwardly and that my good works are nothing but filthy rags Isaiah 64:6 (menstrual cloths) in God’s eyes, and they are like dung in the sight of a Perfectly Good God (Phlippians 3:1-9). I realise how sinful I’m and that I have a sinful nature and no matter how hard I try to please Him, it would just be the same as an apple tree trying to produce an banana- impossible! so how can someone that is wicked on the inside do anything that is purely good? Outwardly I could be perfect by the law, but inwardly I’m just as evil as anyone else. If I looked with sexual fantasies towards someone, its the same as commiting adultery which I deserve to be stoned to death; if i been angry with someone and thought about killing them, that’s just as bad as the act of doing it, which is also a death sentence. No one can keep the Law of Moses perfectly, which is what Jesus came to show us, that unless your righteousness exceeds the pharisees (which is self-righteousness by the law keeping), you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven; the only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, is by Receiving the Gift of God’s Righteousness, His Perfect Record through Jesus’ sinless life.
3) About Jesus and God. At once I didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God and therefore the Saviour of the world, now I realised that He was the Lamb that was slain, died a substitionary death for my crimes and is the ONLY way to God. Before I came to God, I thought that God never cared about me. He was just a judge wanting to punish and judge people, far away in the sky and I could never reached Him. But now that I’m saved by His Sacrifice, I realised that He is my Father. He loves me, He does care about me and wants to have a personally relationship/friendship with me.
For an unbeliever,
Repentance is to Change the way you think, your soul/mind/emotions, its a process that will eventually open up the door for you Spirit which is already Perfect forever, to be unlocked and let out, and manifest in your body, resulting in an outward expression, so that what you think will come out of you on the outside.
At the point of Receiving Christ, Repentance is more than just a mental agreement with the Good News, it is a change of mind that opens the door for the grace of God to come into your life and to make you a New Creation that is in Christ Jesus. A change of mind really is talking about a change of heart, if there was no change of heart then the mind has never really changed.
‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.’ Proverbs
It’s wrong to tell a unbeliever to ‘turn from sin’ since their heart hasn’t been changed yet; since ‘repentance’ is, a change of heart. Our job as evangelist is not to ‘change people’s behaviour’, but to ‘change people’s hearts’.
Illustration of Repentance:
Put yourself in a situation of a criminal who committed a series of bank robbery of over 100 Million dollars and assaulted an elderly man and is caught. He stands before the judge, and all the evidence is presented- he has no where to run and a 10 years sentence is about to be served.
How does he feel?
1) I feel sorry for what I’ve done. What I used to love doing now I hate it.
2) I realise I cannot save myself; no matter how many good things I do now, it will not take away the bad things I’ve done. In other, I realise that I cannot save myself by keeping the law.
And as the judge is about to pass the sentence, all of a sudden, Jesus bursts into the courtroom and says to the judge, ‘Judge, put his criminal record on me and I will give him my perfect record.’
Now, you have a Choice: whether to believe in Jesus and accept His Perfect Record, and exchange your imperfect record for His. Or Reject His Gift.
So you say to Jesus, “I believe in You Jesus and I accept Your Perfect Record for my imperfect record.”
Then the judge says to you, “Not Guilty! you are declared innocent, an upright and perfect law-abiding citizen! You are free to go! You have Never ever done anything wrong in your whole life! You’ve always kept the Law perfectly!”
That is exactly what Jesus already done 2000 years ago. All you have to do is believe in Him and accept His sacrifice, burial and resurrection.
Look at Paul’s mission statement in life that he mentioned to the Ephesian elders,
Acts 20:20 You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
Look at Jesus opening words for ministry,
Mark 1:15 He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!”
Acts 20:21 testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God,
In the context of Hebrews, the author is wrtiing to Jews who are knowledgeable of the Old Covenant and are still living under the law and tring to do ‘good works’ to earn the blessings. This is considered as ‘dead works’.
Good works of under the law are DEAD because they do not bring LIFE. Self-righteousnes will never earn eternal LIFE.
To summarise the process of repentance is based upon Acts 20:21 and Hebrews 6:1,
Repentance towards God from dead works
You change your mind and believe, and then God changes you!!!
Another illustration of repentance:
YOu are talking to an unsaved friend of yours. You start to tell him about Jesus, sin, forgiveness etc… as you are telling him the great news, all of a sudden repentance is taking place in his mind- this is all happening simultaneously as he is listening, he is changeing his views about sin, self-righteousness. And then you share with him that how he can be saved is by calling on the Name of the Lord, and all of a sudden faith is taking place in his heart to believe on Jesus and that faith gives him the ability to call on Jesus and be saved. He now obeys God out of thankfullness to the sacrifice of Jesus rather than external rules and laws that has no ability to empower the new nature within.
Faith comes from hearing, please read:
Check Romans 10:8-17
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” 9 (that is, the word of faith that we preach), 10:9 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10:10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation. 10:11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 10:12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. 10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. 10:14 How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them ? 10:15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How timely is the arrival 17 of those who proclaim the good news.” 18 10:16 But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 19 10:17 Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word
Repentance is a change of mind, that is your mind now is being exposed the Grace of God, and your mind is beginning to understand God’s Grace and it’s changing your heart and everything about you.
The terminology ‘turning from sin’ has to be rid off because that terminology makes people feel like they are still living under the law. I did a universal search in the net.bible.org the phrase ‘turn from sin’, no search results turned up.
Repentance is not ‘turning from sin’, but living a life set apart for God is a result of Repentance which comes from hearing and understanding the Grace of God. But we cannot understand the Grace of God until we understand how sinful we once were. Understanding the theology of the Law will help us to appreciate the Grace message.
When someone has truly grasped the revelation of Grace- repentance a change of mind regarding who he/she is has changed, then it will work out into their lives.
Paul preached that ‘they should prove their repentance by the things they do
Mat 3:8 + Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance,
Act 26:20 – but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance.
In other performing deeds consistent with the Grace message.
Remember Jesus said about Mary, ‘he who has been forgiven much loves much, he who has been forgiven little, loves little.’ Repentance is realising that we have been forgiven much. There is a possibility when sharing the Good News to some unbelievers not all, the message of Grace could become ‘cheap’ to them when we don’t show people how ‘expensive’ the blood of Jesus was to redeem us from the curse of the law due to the rebellion of Adam and mankind.
God does the work upon the unbelievers heart, it’s not up to us to save people, but for us to stay true to the message of Grace and forgiveness and God will do His work in the right time.
The bible says that “Godly sorrow leads to repentance” 2Cor 7:10.
Acts 2 is an example of how Godly sorrow leading to Repentance for unbelievers.
It is the day of Pentecost and many devout Jews from all over were there to do their religious duties. The Holy Spirit just fell and this is the beginnign of the New Covenant of Grace and Peter stands up in boldness having being waiting for the Holy Spirit for a while.
Acts 2:23 “this man, who was handed over by the pre-determined plan and foreknowledge of God, YOU EXECUTED BY NAILING HIM TO A CROSS AT THE HANDS OF GENTILES,”
Imagine you are standing right there with the devout Jews. Imagine how they would have felt when Peter said this. What Peter was basically saying was this…
“You Executed the One Who Gave You LIfe! You killed Elohim! You killed the your Creator, the God of your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. the One Who made an covenant with you to bless you, You Killed God Who said, “I carry you in my bossom and nurture you, you are the apple of my eyes, even though when you walk through the waters you will not drown and when you walk through the fire you will not burn, I’m the river of living water and I love you with an everlasting love.” You killed the Messianic King! You killed God’s Son! Who was supposed to come and Save you from oppression of your enemies and give you the land that God Promised to you!”
Silence. Everyone stopped. Their faces looked down. You could almost feel people wanted to start crying. They couldn’t believe what they’ve just done. They have just killed their Saviour the Author of Life. They have done worse than the people did in Moses day when the Old Covenantn was given; They have done worse than killing a calf, they have just killed the Innocent Son of God.GODLY SORROW HAS TAKEN PLACE.
Peter personalised their sin to them by saying, ‘You’. And they realised they have broken the Torah, the commandments God gave. They broke the first and second commandment to ‘Have no other God’s before Him’- the traditions of the elders and pharisees became their god, they broke the third commandment by blasphemy the name of Jesus by calling Him ‘beelzebub the prince of demons!’, they broke the fifth commandment which was to honor your father and mother by dishonoring the the covenant God made their ancestors, they broke the sixth commandment ‘thou shall not murder’ by plotting the murder of the Son of God, they broke the 9th commandment by giving false testimony about the Son of God.
They have just killed the One Who loved them with an everlasting love and came to save them. How could they have done such a thing? they realised how wicked they really were.
NOW GODLY SORROW HAS DONE ITS JOB LEADING THEM TO REPENTANCE.
Acts 2:37 Now then they heard this, they were ACUTELY distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “What should we do, brothers?
Acts 3 is another example of how Godly sorrow leading to Repentance.
A miracle has just taken place outside the temple grounds. The blind beggar is now walking. Everyone is amazed at Peter and John. Peter stands up and declares to them ‘You rejected the Holy and Righteous One… You Killed the Originator of life…!”
Then we see in Acts 4:4 ‘many believed in the message and the number of men came to about 5000.’
- Reply by Dave Cooper on July 22, 2008 at 10:09am
Hey bro, love ya passion for the grace msg!!!!!!!!!! Is awesome, i so want more and more and more of the grace msg soaked into every part of my body so there won’t be any hint of legalism or works, praise Jesus we’re free!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Something i’ve been thinking about regarding what our job is in this life, and as a Christian i believe there is two fundamental things we need to do:1. BELIEVE
2. RECIEVEThats it!!!!!!!!!!!! Believe in God’s thoughts about us, Believe in his words to us, Which in turn will automatically transform us. And recieve all that God has planned for us, all that he wants to bless us with. PRAISE GOD HE IS SO GOOD AGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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- Reply by Cirra Lecour on July 22, 2008 at 3:50pm
Ahhh I love the simplicity Dave. That is just it, believe and recieve! Now it is learning to live in the light of this reality…I remember thinking the same thing when reading the book “Practising His presence” by Brother Lawrence. All the fullness is available to us in Christ. To abide in the vine is our position…fruit happens AMEN!Tony, eye opening exegesis of what occured on the day of Pentecost! Thanks for sharing your insights. I agree with you that unsaved people will not appreciate the Grace message if they don’t understand the law as well. Indeed it is through hearing the word…..the message of salvation….that one comes to understand deliverence form sin and the law. It is difficult in a “lawless”society that has thrown out the ten commandments to have a starting point, and yet all of us has experienced the effects of sin and pain resulting from humanity’s failure to keep the law. I do believe the Holy Spirit broods over people bringing them to the point of godly sorrow. Like Paul ,many are crying out: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” and then the message of good news comes! Praise God.
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- Reply by Tony Yu on July 23, 2008 at 12:03am
Yes Thankyou Cirra that is soo true the Holy Spirit will do the work and sometimes its so easy to forget that. Thanks Dave I just want more more of His Grace, I’m only just begining to understand it, first heard the grace message last december, and it has taken until now to really start to have my eyes opened and really believe in this message!