After the resurrection, Jesus spent forty day’s with His disciples opening their eyes to the scriptures teaching them the reason He came so they could proclaim the gospel to all creation. Jesus told them that one of the requirements of accepting the gospel message was repentance from sin. Jesus said in Luke 24:46-47, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
What did Jesus mean when He said “repentance for forgiveness of sin?” When we believe on Jesus we believe on all of who He is, all of what He has done, and all of what He has taught. Jesus preached repentance of sin and holy living. True faith in Christ requires repentance from sin.
After Peter preached the first gospel message just after he was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit the crowd was pierced to the heart and asked Peter, “What shall we do?” They wanted to know how they were to respond to the gospel. Peter said they needed to repent. (Acts 2:38).
Sin hinders our relationship with God. It was our sins that Jesus went to the cross to pay for. When we choose not to repent we are telling God that we are not truly interested in a relationship with Him and that we would rather live our lives our own way through our own strength and wisdom. Make no mistake, people who refuse to repent refuse relationship and fellowship with God. John said in I John 1:6, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” In other words, if we say we are walking with God yet we are living in open rebellious unrepentant sin, we are liars. However, I John 1:6 says, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We walk in the light when we have repented of our sin and received the cleansing power of the blood of Christ that paid for our sin.
Paul went so far as to tell us not to associate with any “so-called” believer who is unrepentant and living in sin. He said not to even eat with such a one. (I Corinthians 5:11). Associating with an unrepentant individual only gives them a false since of salvation. If there is no repentance, there is no salvation.
In the next chapter, he gives a non-comprehensive list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. In I Corinthians 6:9-10 Paul said, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Does this mean that anyone who has ever been drunk or stolen anything will not be saved? Of course not. Paul is declaring their identity. This is who they are and how they live. This is the identifying mark of their lives. They are identified as a drunkard or a thief or whatever the life of sin is that they have not repented of. Paul went on to say in the next verse, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” Such were some of you, but not anymore, for they had repented and were washed with the blood of Christ. The Christians identity is found in Christ-not sin.
Does this mean that those who slip into sin from time to time are not saved? Galatians 2:11 tells us that Paul opposed Peter to his face because he stood condemned. Peter was being a hypocrite acting one way in front of the gentiles and another way in front of the Jews. Was he condemned to hell for his hypocrisy? Of course not. Peter was very much a saved man that loved Jesus with his whole heart. He was eventually martyred for his faith. He however, slipped into sin and needed someone like Paul to help set him straight. Those who are indentified with sin due to their lack of repentance are not saved. Christians can and will slip into sin from time to time. However, since they have a relationship with God, they will be convicted of their sin and repent. An unsaved person will live in sin with absolutely no conviction or remorse and be perfectly happy it.
When we share our faith with sinners, we must preach repentance. A gospel proclaimed without repentance is no gospel at all. We are setting the hearer up for failure if we do not proclaim the need to repent. Not preaching repentance is as foolish as a patient going to see a doctor for a chronic cough. The doctor not wanting to pry into the patient’s personal life by telling him he needs to stop smoking simply gives him cough syrup instead. Smoking is clearly the root of his problem, just as sin is the root of our separation from God.
When preaching repentance we must do so with the love and compassion of Christ. While preaching repentance we must have a heart of love desiring the sinner to turn from his sin and trust in Jesus. God will not bless the efforts of the self righteous who simply want to condemn the sinner for his sin. We must get the log out of our eye before we can get the spec out of others. Remember, such were some of us. We once were sinners in need of salvation. Who are we to condemn others for their sins? We repented and received grace. This too should be our heart. It most certainly is Gods. For this reason out of an act of love and compassion knowing the destructive power of sin, we preach repentance.