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What is real repentance?

Millions have heard the cry, "REPENT! Receive Christ!" But what does it mean?
What is real repentance? Here's the BIBLE ANSWER!


IN A WORLD fraught with tension and fear, increasing thousands are turning to religion. Somehow, many feel they need to "get right" with God — to join a Church — to become more "religious."

Vast evangelistic campaigns have netted thousands of "decisions for Christ." In a moment of remorse over their past lives, many have decided to "accept" Jesus as Savior. But what is this "receiving" of Christ? Is it REAL?

Mass evangelism has been severely criticized recently by many who have shown the "decisions" made usually don't LAST very long. Were these decisions real repentance?


The Common Belief

A foremost religious leader once said: "First, let us understand what Christianity is NOT. It is NOT a way of life!"

But what does the newly converted Christian DO then, that MAKES him a Christian? Commonly, it is believed that the remorseful feeling of sorrow over past mistakes and misdeeds, plus the acceptance of Christ — the worship of Christ — is a saving experience. Hundreds of thousands of sincere, well-meaning, earnest people are content they are Christians — satisfied they are headed toward eternal life — when they actually have never taken the first step toward becoming a true Christian, believe it or not!

But listen to what the Bible actually says!

"From that time Jesus began to preach . . ." (Matt. 4:17). Jesus was a preacher! Jesus Christ came with a message from God the Father — and that message was what He preached! What was the very first thing HE told His audiences to do? ". . . REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"(Matt. 4:17). Notice — the words of Jesus are: "REPENT!"

Later, the apostles — Peter, James and John, the apostle Paul and others — preached the same message Jesus brought from His Father. When Peter stood up to explain the amazing events of the Day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. he said, "REPENT, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Later, Peter said, "Repent ye therefore, and 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). Jesus gave stern warning that "except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5).

Then there is something required in addition to the acceptance of Jesus as personal Savior! Jesus said so!

To repent and be converted is to CHANGE. That is the very meaning of the word "convert." Just what is that change, then?


Change What?

"I'm a changed man," said the reformed smoker. "I have finally quit the tobacco habit!" This man felt, because he had dropped a bad habit, he was a changed man! But was he really?

What is it Christ wants you to change ? Merely your way of "thinking" about Him? Do you change your "outlook" on religion? Do you change your Church? Change your habits? Change WHAT?

The Apostle Paul explained that the “. . .carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). That carnal mind is the NATURAL human mind — the normal, sincere, natural, common "way of looking at things" that all of us were born with! It's the mind of every normal human being PRIOR to this change Christ was talking about! Paul went on to say, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, He is none of His" (Rom. 8:9). Did you notice it? If a man have not the Spirit of Christ — he doesn't belong to Christ, and therefore IS NOT A CHRISTIAN!

This change has something to do with the carnal mind, and the Spirit of Christ! Let's notice another important scripture. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:1-2). Read that scripture again! Study it!

God says you must undergo a renewing, a transforming, a CHANGING OF THE MIND!

This changing of the mind is a change of human nature!

The normal, natural way of human nature is the way of Selfishness. The SELF is the entire motivating drive in human nature. It is the pleasing of the self, the satisfaction of the self — the way of getting for the self that is the basis of human nature. You are extremely selfish! All human beings are selfish.

And, behind the selfishness of every person lies the root cause of it all: vanity!

"Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; ALL is vanity" (Eccl. 1:2). Every person is filled with vanity, in one form or another. Notice that Paul tells us, "For the creature [correct meaning, "creation") was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope" (Rom. 8:20).

All is vanity! The desire of every person is to be "liked" by others — to be "well thought of," to be accepted by the society, looked up to, respected, admired, and loved by others — all this is vanity!

It is this vanity which leads a person to say, "What will my friends say?" or; "What will people think?"


Ensnared in Society

Having been reared in a world that measures everything by what people think, you probably are quite concerned about the opinions of your friends, neighbors and relatives. You are wrapped up in this age, this society! Whatever is the standard, whatever is looked upon with approval by these people, whose acceptance you covet, that becomes the standard of your life! If you're like most people — you live in the way which is most likely to gain for you the acceptance and approbation you seek. You are a part of this world. Your life is regulated by this world and its customs, its holidays, its practices in business, in social life, in religious life, and all the many accepted standards of society which make up this "world."

Most people are ensnared by it — trapped into CONFORMITY with whatever is the way of the majority — following like blind sheep wherever society leads, never questioning WHETHER it is right, but simply conforming to the ways of others.

It is the vanity in human nature, the selfishness, which drives individuals on and on, seeking the respect and approbation of other people!

It is to RELEASE us from these shackles of tradition and society that Jesus calls us out of this world!


Jesus Calls You OUT of Society

Jesus said, "My kingdom is NOT of this world" (John 18:36). He was the Messenger from God the Father of a better kingdom — the world-ruling Kingdom of God! When Christ walked this earth as a man, He spoke to His disciples of a soon-coming WORLD GOVERNMENT that would supersede and PUT DOWN all opposing, man-made governments, and RULE THIS WORLD! (Rev. 2:26-27)

He prayed that His disciples would be SEPARATE from this world. "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine" (John 17:9).



"If the world hates you, ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you" (John 15:18-19).

Jesus said your own family would begin to look down on you, if you are really willing to OBEY HI/A! "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (Matt. 10:34-36).

If you are really following Christ — LIVING as He lived, DOING as He did — keeping God's LAW as He did — this society, even your closest former friends and your own relatives, will begin to RESIST and PERSECUTE you.

"Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind . . . For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles. . . Wherein they think it strange [the former associates, with whom you followed the courses of society] that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you" (I Peter 4:1-4).

Notice HOW STRONGLY God impresses on every Christian that they must discontinue their relationships with this sinning society! "Love NOT the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever" (I John 2:15-17).


Count the Cost

In Luke 14 Jesus sternly warns every prospective Christian to Count THE COST of being a true follower of Him! How many people are being told to COUNT THE COST — or even told WHAT THAT COST IS, in today's great evangelistic efforts which invite people to "make a decision for Christ?"

Are they being TOLD what it really means? Are they being told HOW to GIVE themselves to God — HOW to serve Christ — WHAT to do — WHAT it means? Are they being told to COME OUT of this society, and be NOT conformed to the world?

No! They most decidedly are not!

Many people are being led to "accept Jesus" or to "receive Him" today, in a moment of emotional remorse over past mistakes. But many thousands DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO to really become a Christian!


What IS the Cost?

Remember, Jesus tells you what you must do to become a Christian!

"Not everyone that saith unto me, `Lord, Lord' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the WILL OF MY FATHER which is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). "REPENT" said Christ. "Do THE WILL of God," said Jesus!

God's will is expressed in His Word. "Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). It is the truth, the Word of God that will set you free.

Here, then, is what it really COSTS to become a true Christian, and to become a begotten son of God!


Does that shock you? Perhaps it does unless you think I mean that statement as a kind of "spiritual phraseology which is just another way of saying "set your heart on the Lord" or some similar sentiment.

God's Word tells you that you must literally LAY DOWN YOUR LIFE for Christ.

"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

After you have been BROKEN UP, and your own human will has been totally SHATTERED, after you are DISGUSTED with yourself — FILLED with ABHORRENCE at your own actions, your own way of life — your own SELF, which is the VANITY within you — then you should be baptized!