Why Do We Repent What Is True Repentance

What does repentance mean to most Christians?

What do most Christians do when they sin and feel bad about it? Their traditional response to God is “repent”!

Gee whiz, even John the Baptist said, “Repent! The kingdom of God is at hand.” But, what did he really mean by this? If you stick with the traditional mindset of repentance you will miss the good news in his declaration. Hey, don’t forget that John the Baptist also said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Christians gloss over the ‘takes away’ part, because Christianity has a sin focused mind set.

The Christian religious system teaches that repentance involves being sorry for and feeling bad when you sin and that you must repent to God in order to receive His forgiveness.Misguided repentance

Traditional Christianity also preaches that unbelievers are big time sinners and they really need to repent in order to get saved! If they don’t they will go to hell. Sounds like traditional Christianity is presenting God as One who declares – “I really do love you, but you must repent and love Me with all your heart, otherwise I will torture you for all eternity.” Now that’s a God I would want to know! (tongue in cheek here)

Of course the Christian religious system makes it clear that because God is so good, He will forgive those who repent, whether they are believers or unbelievers.  Doesn’t that sound like a conditional goodness. Isn’t God’s goodness bigger than that? Isn’t His goodness unconditional?

Here’s the sad part about all this ‘must repent’ doctrine. Have you ever considered that many will still not ‘feel’ forgiven, in spite of their sincere repentance! Their sin, failure, guilt still haunts them.

Now sometimes believers will ‘cleanse their conscious’ by doing certain rituals or works. They are taught these activities will help persuade God to forgive you, and they will show you are very serious about your repentance. Amazingly these rituals/works seem to help make them ‘feel’ better. At least until the next time, then the cycle repeats itself again. Been there, done that.

Is that what the “abundant life” is in Jesus? Is this His fullness for us? Do believers really feel intimate with God because of this pattern of how to repent? No, No, and No!

Isn’t it interesting that the way most Christians understand and use the word “repent” (v.) or “repentance” (n.) has nothing to do with the Greek meaning of this word used in scripture! ‘Repentance’ is not even found in the ancient Biblical Greek manuscripts.

Repentance is an old English word where some folk added ‘re’ (a prefix that means to do again and again) to the Latin word ‘penance’.

The meaning of ‘penance’ (Merriam Webster Dictionary) –

  1. an act of self-abasement, mortification, or devotion performed to show sorrow or repentance for sin
  2. a sacramental rite that is practiced in Roman, Eastern, and some Anglican churches that consists of private confession, absolution, and penance directed by the confessor.

So when the scriptures say “repent” what does it really mean in the Greek?

The Greek word is metanoia – made up of two Greek words  –

  1. met  –  primary preposition denoting accompaniment – together with, amid,
  2. nous –  the intellect, that is, mind (divine or human; in thought, feeling, or will); by implication understanding

metanoia means literally

  • to come to your senses
  • to come into your right mind
  • to think as the result of observing
  • to change your mind, to change your way of thinking
  • to intelligently understand
  • to think differently after taking a closer look at a matter
  • suggesting a radical mind shift – an about face in the way you think

Metanoia  is like your mind ‘coming together’ with God’s mind – joining Him in His thoughts, His feelings about you. When He made man He said it was ‘very good’ – He has never changed His mind about that. This is why Jesus came, to restore what is really true about you! He wants us to metanoia!

Thus we see metanoia (the Greek word man translated as repent) has absolutlely nothing to do with penance, with regret, with sorrow and remorse! Man has built a false doctrine on a mistranslated word. This has kept us from truly knowing His eternal unconditional love, goodness, and kind intentions for us!

This mistranslated word of metanoia is a factor in why so many Christians still see themselves as “sinners saved by grace”. Our focus on ‘repent’ in order to be forgiven maintains a ‘sin consciousness’ in Christianity and misrepresents the Gospel. Sin consciousness and traditional ‘repenting’ has nothing to do with the Good News! Having to repent of your sins to get saved and continuing to repent (as the religious system teaches) will not help you to really know Him or for you to really know your true identity in Him.

This sin consciousness is like a heresy against the finished work of Jesus dying on the cross. God doesn’t remember our sin (Heb 10:17,18), He took away all sin (1Jn 3:5), He forgave us ALL our transgressions (Col 2:13) – so why in the world are we elevating sin!?

We need to change our mind! This Good News really is good news! In fact, when True repentance AKA metanoiayou begin to hear the real good news you will think it is too good to be true!

Hey, how good is your God anyway?

Dig In

  • May you begin to realize that the Christian religious system has perpetuated a kind-of-good-news that includes a lot of ‘shoulds’, ‘oughts’, and ‘musts’.
  • Get it through your head and heart – ALL your sins are already forgiven. Jesus took ALL sin away for ALL men. So who are you, and who is your neighbor – really?!
  • Get ready to metanoia – as you discover the real truth of the Good News it will set you incredibly free!
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6 responses to “Why Do We Repent What Is True Repentance

  1. Nancy, thanks for blogging. You are putting out some great stuff! Love ya always!

    • Angela, thanks for the encouragement! I am being overwhelmed by the really Good News and it is so exciting to pass it on. Certainly worth shouting about compared to the mixture of grace + law traditional Good News.

  2. we would be prepared also to understand that some (many) men and women do not (will not) metanoia; will not agree to a change of their mind.
    Because our Father is Good, He has not forced them (or us). And, He seems to know in advance that many will humans will not be moved to changing their minds… the gate is narrow that leads to Life, and few that go to be finding it.

    • Marshall, you are so right that God does not force Himself on anyone. He doesn’t have to, because His love (for all) is truly UNconditional. This is wonderfully expressed in the fact that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them..” (2Cor 5:19) Surprise, the whole world was reconciled! Many just don’t know it yet. In fact, even many Christians don’t get that yet! We still believe there are things we have to do to get saved. If we think that many will not ‘metanoia’, it is encouraging to remember that “The Lord…is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to ‘metanoia’.” (2Pet 2:9) And Paul states, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to ‘metanoia’?” (Rom 2:4)
      In your reference to the narrow gate, it is wondrous and beautiful to see that this narrow gate is Jesus Himself! He really is the only (narrow) Way. Because of what He did for us at the cross, He has opened wide ‘the gate’ and welcomes all! Maybe this passage in Mt 7:13-14 about few finding this small gate/narrow way of grace is, because so many think they have to do something to merit His salvation and love. Maybe this easy small way is just too hard to believe, so they ‘stay’ lost. But there’s more good news, Jesus is like the Shepherd who goes out to find the lost. And find them He will, they won’t find Him! Even as Jesus said, “I chose you, you did not choose Me.” Since God so loved the world, He sent His only Son…it sure looks like there is huge potential for the ‘few’ to be many!

      • While I rejoice to see your hope, Nancy, there remains nearly 2000 years of history told regarding relentless stubborness accross humanity against accepting their change of mind regarding Christ; millions born who have hated Him to their deaths. As we know, He did not force them otherwise. While His love is truly unfailing toward us, not all are portrayed by Him as “sheep” for the Shepherd’s care; there are also “goats”. A “huge potential” is not the same as would be His promise of many (or all) men be found by Him and coming through Him. And, He might have given His word that most or all would be gathered back and live, but He did not do this. The One True God is enduring much lifetime rejection by men made in His image, with no honest means to deny it.
        Reconciliation of the world to God would not guarantee that all will have a change of mind. Rather, reconciliation unlocks a marvelous opportunity to begin anew for each one reconciled with a mind to it.

      • Marshall, I too rejoice in my hope – it is the same hope as scriptures speak of – Greek elpis – confident expectation based on solid certainty and to anticipate usually with pleasure! Of this I am sure, His love never fails and His mercies are new every morning. Oh, how overwhelming is His love for everyone – He really has no problem with His likeness and image – and Jesus came to show us that! He came to restore us back to what God intended when He first made Adam and Eve. He has never changed His mind about who He made us to be – in His image. Sadly, religion focuses on the Adamic nature making sure we are reminded of our sin. Jesus, being the LAST Adam, ended that fallen line and has made us new creations! Most don’t hear that truth, only that they are sinners.

        Isn’t it amazing in His grand scheme of things, with Jesus Christ being the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world, then truly He found us in Christ Jesus before He ever lost us in Adam? (Rev 13:8 Eph 1:4 2Cor 5:14-16) It might appear to us, in the natural realm, that there are/were many (millions) who apparently never changed their minds, even at their last breath. But our perspective is limited and Love’s is eternal and all powerful. Love bears all things, love never fails. Yippee!

        Scripture certainly speaks of “goats”, and in kind – ‘tares’. Both of these can be reference to the religious ones (AKA hypocrites) – those who thought they were keeping all the rules and doing everything right. What a contrast to Jesus who loved to hang out with sinners.(Mt 11:19) But He sure had issues with the faithful religious. (Mt 23) Yet, Paul is our great example that God can even show a Pharisee of Pharisees, liberating truth. Indeed, my hope overflows, knowing that God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all. (Rom 11:32) Yay God! What a Savior!

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