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Repentance and Faith

Repentance and Faith

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Repentance and Faith

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Repentance from dead works and faith toward God are listed in Hebrews 6:1 Hebrews 6:1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
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as part of the foundation that ultimately leads to perfection and eternal life. Jesus Christ set an important pattern in His preaching when He regularly called on hearers to “repent, and believe” (Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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). The apostle Paul also preached “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21 Acts 20:21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
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).

Jesus pointed out the importance of repentance when He twice stated that “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3 Luke 13:3I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
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, Luke 13:5 Luke 13:5I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
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). God requires that everyone repent (Acts 17:30 Acts 17:30And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent:
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; 2 Peter 3:9 2 Peter 3:9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
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). In the first recorded sermon in the New Testament Church, Peter told the people to “repent” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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).

We are to repent of sin, which is the transgression of God’s law (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
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, KJV). Repentance goes beyond being sorry or showing remorse for one’s past actions (2 Corinthians 7:8-11 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same letter has made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it worked in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
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). True repentance involves recognition of our nature and its opposition to God (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
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). It requires a change, a complete and thorough turnaround in one’s life, a change from sinning to ceasing from sin—from disobeying God’s law to obeying it.

We are to stop going the way of the world and turn to God’s way instead (Isaiah 55:7-8 Isaiah 55:7-8 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
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; Acts 26:20 Acts 26:20But showed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
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; Romans 12:2 Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
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). Repentance is full surrender and willing obedience, based on the knowledge of how God wants us to live. 

Repentance begins with our crying out to God for forgiveness of our sins and our accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. It is not a decision based on emotion only, though emotion is certainly an important part (Acts 2:37 Acts 2:37Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?
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), but a decision to sincerely obey God through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ’s righteousness becomes ours through faith in and from Him (Philippians 3:8-9 Philippians 3:8-9 8 Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
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; Romans 8:1-4 Romans 8:1-4 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
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).

This faith is a deep belief and trusting confidence (Hebrews 11:1 Hebrews 11:1Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
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). And we can’t come to God without it: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6 Hebrews 11:6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
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). Such faith will lead to obeying God. It not only trusts in initial forgiveness of sin, but it recognizes that God will help the faithful to remain faithful.

Repentance through faith is not simply compliance with a system of religion or a set of rules. Confidence in God and His ways will lead one to act in accordance with His will and to manifest works of righteousness (James 2:17-26 James 2:17-26 17 Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yes, a man may say, You have faith, and I have works: show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 See you how faith worked with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled which said, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24 You see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
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). True godly repentance is not something that a person can work up by himself. It is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25 2 Timothy 2:25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
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; Acts 11:18 Acts 11:18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then has God also to the Gentiles granted repentance to life.
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). It is one of the many good things our Heavenly Father gives us (James 1:17 James 1:17Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no ficklenss, neither shadow of turning.
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). He leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4 Romans 2:4Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
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).

Repentance is a major part of the conversion process. As Peter continued in that first sermon, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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). So repentance precedes baptism—the latter being an outward sign of our commitment to leave our old ways behind and embark on a new life, cleansed through Christ.

Then, after repentance and baptism, God’s Spirit is given to a person through the laying on of hands by a duly ordained servant of God (Acts 8:14-18 Acts 8:14-18 14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,
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; 2 Timothy 1:6 2 Timothy 1:6Why I put you in remembrance that you stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the putting on of my hands.
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; Hebrews 6:1-2 Hebrews 6:1-2 1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
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).  The Holy Spirit thereafter helps us to honor our commitment of repentance, leading us to actually live God’s way (Romans 8:14 Romans 8:14For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
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). We then have the love of God motivating us to keep God’s laws (1 John 5:3 1 John 5:3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
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). True Christians have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
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) and strive to live as Christ lived (1 John 2:6 1 John 2:6He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
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).

Repentance involves both sorrow and joy. Repentance leads to a joyful and eternal relationship with our loving God, our Creator and giver of life. Repentance focuses our vision on the love and mercy of God and the forgiveness of sin made possible by the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Repentance is necessary for putting off the “old man,” our former character, and becoming a part of the family of God (Ephesians 4:20-24 Ephesians 4:20-24 20 But you have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
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).

And again, this is a response of faith. In Mark 1:15 Mark 1:15And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel.
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, quoted in part earlier, Jesus specifically called for people to “repent, and believe in the gospel” —referring to the good news of the Kingdom of God (Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
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). The expectation of being a part of God’s Kingdom is certainly reason to rejoice—and it motivates those who take it to heart to do God’s will.

Soon after godly repentance, one should, as we’ve seen, be baptized so that all past sins are blotted out (Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
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), thereupon receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38 Acts 2:37-38 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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). Afterward comes a life led by God’s Spirit, growing in grace and knowledge, bearing fruit and being perfected in holiness and righteousness (2 Peter 3:18 2 Peter 3:18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
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; Matthew 13:23 Matthew 13:23But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundred times, some sixty, some thirty.
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; 2 Corinthians 7:1 2 Corinthians 7:1Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
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).

One important result of having the Holy Spirit within us is the development of faith (Galatians 5:22-23 Galatians 5:22-23 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
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; 1 Corinthians 12:4 1 Corinthians 12:4Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
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, 9). “The faith of the Son of God” is what we now live by (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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, KJV). Indeed, the just (those who are justified or made right with God) live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4 Habakkuk 2:4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
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; Romans 1:17 Romans 1:17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
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; Galatians 3:11 Galatians 3:11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
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; Hebrews 10:38 Hebrews 10:38Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
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).

Repentance, we need to realize, must be ongoing. It is not a one-time action in the life of the believer. A converted person must continue to battle sin in his or her life (1 John 1:8-10 1 John 1:8-10 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
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; 1 John 2:1 1 John 2:1My little children, these things write I to you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
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). Vestiges of human nature remain for the rest of our lives, warring against our minds and leading to sin (Romans 7:17 Romans 7:17Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me.
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; Romans 7:20-21 Romans 7:20-21 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
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).

A spiritually converted person ultimately desires to please and obey God. The love of God poured into that person’s heart by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5 Romans 5:5And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us.
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) seeks to follow the perfect way of God, but the weakness of the flesh often impedes this inward desire (Romans 7:12-25 Romans 7:12-25 12 Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. 13 Was then that which is good made death to me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. 14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent to the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
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).

God does not condemn the believer (Romans 8:1 Romans 8:1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
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) as long as he or she continues with God in the ongoing process of repenting and overcoming sin (Revelation 2:7 Revelation 2:7He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the middle of the paradise of God.
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; Romans 2:11 Romans 2:11For there is no respect of persons with God.
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; Romans 2:17 Romans 2:17Behold, you are called a Jew, and rest in the law, and make your boast of God,
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; Romans 2:26 Romans 2:26Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?
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; Romans 3:5 Romans 3:5But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? Is God unrighteous who takes vengeance? (I speak as a man)
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; Romans 3:12 Romans 3:12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one.
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; Romans 3:21 Romans 3:21But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
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). Only if repentance permanently ceases is there no longer forgiveness.

The converted person continues through repentance and faith to rely on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to cover his or her sins in this lifelong process of overcoming. And through the miraculous help of Christ living in him or her through the Holy Spirit, the Christian is able to grow in God’s way of life, increasingly walking by faith in obedience to God’s law of love (Galatians 2:20 Galatians 2:20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
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; Philippians 4:13 Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
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; Colossians 1:29 Colossians 1:29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which works in me mightily.
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).