A recent survey of self-professed believers found that half of all who claim to have been converted and “saved” go back on their conversion within a year. Most do not understand what being saved is and because of that are only half-hearted in their commitment. In most of these failures exists a misunderstanding of salvation and what leads to salvation.
Yahweh’s Word teaches that salvation is not instantly guaranteed in a believer’s life, particularly not so based on some mere confession or statement. The Apostle Paul talked about having a “hope” of salvation in 1Thessalonians 5:8-9. He explained in2Corinthians 2:15 that being saved is a process that is not completed until the end.
In 1Corinthians 3:15 he describes salvation and being saved as being a state no one automatically possesses and is not instantly achieved upon conversion. In fact, he wasn’t even sure of his own future but he simply had the “hope” that he might attain the resurrection. He said in Philippians 3:11-12: “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after…”
If this apostle who was taught by the resurrected Savior Himself (Gal. 1:11-12) and who wrote much of the New Testament was not certain of his own salvation, how can anyone today say they are already saved? Yet you hear well-meaning evangelists ask, “Are you saved?” and proceed to tell you just to pronounce a few words to accept the Savior and you are home free. Those who think they have salvation may then live any kind of life they please and still be assured an eternal reward. Is this what the Word says?
In Hebrews 6 we read that there are those who were enlightened and tasted of the prospect of salvation and were even given the Holy Spirit. Yet they are warned that should they fall away from the truth that there is no longer any hope for them. Their salvation would be permanently lost.
It is impossible “if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they impale to themselves the Son of Elohim afresh, and put Him to an open shame.”
Falling away means a complete and utter rejection of the truth and the Savior who died for us. People ask, what if I committed some bad sins, am I forever lost? Not if they confess their sins and repent. That is the first step in renewing a right standing with Yahweh.
Repentance from Sin
You don’t hear much about repentance these days, yet the act of repentance is essential to being a converted child of Almighty Yahweh in the process of becoming saved. Many have missed this key part of conversion in the New Testament. Without understanding repentance and changing of your life, you cannot know what it means to be saved.
Before we can repent we need to comprehend what sin is.
Everyone knows what crime is. Webster defines a crime as an act that violates a law. A crime is like a sin.
Breaking of law is also true for sin. In the clearest and most precise definition in the Bible, 1John 3:4 says that sin is a violation of Biblical law: Here is the Bible’s fundamental definition of sin: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” That’s crystal clear!
If sin is breaking of law, then NOT breaking of law means not sinning We can break a law in ignorance because we did not know about it. That doesn’t mean that sin is not imputed to us simply because we are unaware of it. We are still guilty.
We can speed down a highway not realizing what the speed limit is and still be charged with a traffic violation. Ignorance does not nullify the law.
Everyone has broken Biblical law and therefore all humans are sinners whether they know it or not.
The law includes the Ten Commandments. Lying, stealing, killing—these are all acts of sin by Biblical definition. The Bible also gives other laws that Yahweh commands to be observed, and violation of any one of them is also sin by the simple definition of sin. Sin leads to eternal death.
If we are guilty as charged of a lifetime of unrepented and willful sin, our hope of salvation will be dashed.
The Scriptures tell us that unless we confess our sins, seek forgiveness, and turn completely around to live a different life we are spiritually lost. There is no hope beyond this earthly life unless we change and conform to the Scriptures in how we live.
James 4:4 tells us that following the ways of the world make one the enemy of the Heavenly Father Yahweh, and those ways lead to death. On the other hand, Proverbs 12:28 reveals, “In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”
And that is where repentance is pivotal. Repentance moves us away from sin and toward righteousness.
Almighty Yahweh will not allow an unrepentant sinner to sit on a throne in His coming Kingdom. The Messiah Yahshua instructed His followers in Matthew 18:3, “Except you be converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Conversion requires change and it begins with repentance.
Repentance Is a Transformation
In Luke 13 we read that there were some murdered Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. In verse 3 our Savior said, “Except you repent, you shall likewise perish.”
Repentance is fundamental. Our sins have separated us from our Father in Heaven. Those sins must be forgiven as the first step to salvation.
One Greek word translated repent in the New Testament is metanoeo. It is a verb that includes a realization that one is a sinner. But it goes beyond just realization. It means to change one’s very perception or view of sin and to understand that sin is death. Sin that is practiced in one’s life ultimately leads to everlasting death. A related word for repent in the New Testament is the Greek nounmetanoia. This word signifies a real change in one’s entire attitude toward sin itself, which affects the whole life. It means a change in how we live. It amounts to a complete turnaround, not just to be sorry for sin but to make a 180-degree reverse course in behavior. It means a renouncement of sin and its destructive ways and to practice it no more.
Too often, however, is the more common and erroneous understanding of repentance, signified by the Greek metamelomai. It simply means that I regret what I did because I got caught. It is the kind of regret children often have when their parents punish them for doing something wrong. It is also that kind of regret that Judas Iscariot felt for betraying the Savior Yahshua.
But this is a false regret that lacks the power and force to effect permanent change in one’s life. It is shallow and easily reversed. As soon as the punishment stops, the person is back to his sin again.
Genuine, scriptural repentance is the person who admits his sin, seeks forgiveness, and then makes a complete turnaround – permanently stopping what he or she had been doing, never to repeat it. True repentance leads to true conversion. Nothing less will do.
Just to say I’m sorry is not enough. Just apologizing for your sin but failing to turn from sinful behavior is not repentance. If I steal your car, then tell you I am sorry but I still keep the car, I have not repented. A transformation must take place in the heart. I also must make everything right again.
Ezekiel 18:21 gives us the proper perspective on repentance. The prophet writes: “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? says Yahweh Elohim: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”
In the New Testament, which in most doctrinal respects is a mirror of the Old Testament, we read from Acts 17:30: “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent.”
Lesson from a Wayward Son
Not a man or woman alive is sinless. Everyone on earth has sinned in many ways. Paul tells us this fact in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of Elohim.” Everyone is in need of repentance if they have any hope for life everlasting. The sincerely and truly repentant individual loathes his sin and resolves never to repeat it.
The parable of the prodigal son is an object lesson in what must take place in a sinner’s life under scriptural repentance. It is about a son who squandered his inheritance through riotous living and transgressions. And after suffering miserably—even losing all he had—he is reduced to feeding slop to pigs. He finally comes to his senses, realizing that his life is a dead-end road.
The first step is realization. He has to admit he has done wrong. No one else can do it for him. Oftentimes we are brought low through the pain of trials for this exact purpose—it is the only thing that will bring us to our senses about the self-destructive, sinful behavior we are in.
After we realize this we have a decision to make. If we want to change our standing before our Father in heaven, an honest desire to go in a new direction is mandated.
Next comes a deep and total remorse; “And the son said unto him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son’ ” (Luke 15:21). He had to get to the point where he would sacrifice all his self-centered goals, wants, desires, and ambitions and humbly ask for forgiveness both from Yahweh and from his family.
Finally, and this is the key to repentance, comes a complete and permanent change in behavior. He must take the first two steps to reach the third. It is a process necessary for anyone who wants to achieve true repentance! This is a lesson in how our Heavenly Father will indeed forgive anyone who sincerely and with a true heart repents and turns to Him.
His forgiveness of our transgressions is shown in how the prodigal’s father reacted to his son’s sincerity:
“But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:22-24).
Sin kills. Sin’s result is always death. The only way to get out of a life of sin and to begin to overcome it is through repentance.
King David’s Lesson
King David’s heart-rending confession in his Psalm 51 “gold standard” model of repentance is a tribute to the person the Bible calls a man after Yahweh’s own heart.
David’s genuineness is clear from the very beginning. When approached about his sin by Nathan the prophet David immediately confessed to his murderous and adulterous transgression. He did not shift blame to Bathsheba, saying something like, “Yes, but she tempted me. She should not have done that. She’s guilty, too.” He did not play the blame game or offer personal excuses, like, “Oh it was just one of my weaker moments. After all, I’m just a red-blooded Israelite.” On the contrary. He immediately confessed openly and honestly: “I have sinned.”
David sinned in profound ways. There’s no denying that. But just as he showed a complete and utterly sincere repentance, so can we.
The Bible is an amazing book. It details the dirt, the warts, the blemishes and the evil in the heart of man. It shows us the good, the bad, and the ugly of life. It is completely honest. No other historically accurate book is so candid and forthright.
Because life is an unending string of evil as well as good, we must be aware and ready for any pitfalls that could snare us. The Word shows how to overcome life’s dangers.
A Yearning for Yahweh
Sincere and true repentance is always followed by a permanent change in behavior. It is the kind of change others will quickly notice. The genuine believer will put his Heavenly Father Yahweh before everything else in his life. The Apostle Paul shows clearly that a changed heart is a heart like David’s, one that desires to please Yahweh in all things.
Many try to have it both ways. They want to live for themselves and for Almighty Yahweh at the same time. Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against Yahweh: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.”
We read in Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of Elohim.”
Repentance is a necessary prelim-inary to baptism. In his message Peter commanded those gathered in Acts 2 to “repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Yahshua the Messiah for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
An insincere repentance leads to a false baptism. Only a genuine desire for forgiveness, coupled with a change in heart, mind, and action, will be acceptable to the One who grants salvation to those He chooses.
by Elder Alan Mansager