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“As Long as I Repent!”

-By Jorge L. Trujillo

What is the role of repentance in the life of a person?  What is repentance for and how do we obtain it?  These are questions for which the Bible gives clear answers to.  But any topic of doctrine of the Bible can be misapplied and misused if there is no clear understanding of the message of the Bible in regards to it.  For example, when those who teach that born again Christians can loose their salvation due to sin in his or her  life are presented with the unavoidable conclusion that they are teaching ‘salvation by works’ that is - a person remains saved because of his/ her ability to remain sinless or by living a "holy life"[i] - they respond that that it is not true, they claim not to teach salvation by works but by faith alone. Following that answer however, they also add that the person who commits a sinful action is not necessarily lost because of the sin committed but because of lack of repentance from that sin.  In the minds of these individuals who realize that a true Christian can and often do commit sins of different kinds, they still need to find a ‘foundation’ for their doctrine of lost salvation.   Since obviously there is no way a single Christian can live a totally sinless life (1 John 1:8-10), the problem remains: How can a person remain saved while still committing sins? Their solution to this dilemma is that people remain saved “as long as they repent” before they die.  Therefore, according to them a Christian can commit any kind of unthinkable sin, but if that person “repents” from that sin before dying, then salvation is not lost or at least recuperated.  This argument also leads them to conclude that if a born again Christian commits a sin and does not repent before dying, that person will be lost forever. This rather particular way of thinking is prevalent among many Christians today and is taken as Biblical truth, but is it so?

Kept Saved by Holiness

We have to clearly state that while thinking and teaching that one’s salvation is kept because of “holy living” is absolute legalism (or moralist salvation) and contrary to the message of salvation by grace alone, to say that salvation is lost for not repenting of sin is a detestable form of antinomianism (living without regard to God’s law) as we hope to demonstrate.   The former is a humanistic attempt to merit final salvation by ‘good works’ which is a slap in the face of the complete saving work of Christ by pretending that any man is capable of saving himself by first ‘believing in Christ’ (faith) and then by ‘living a holy life’ (works) -- faith + works salvation.  Such idea is nothing more than the same false gospel prevalent in the midst of the church since the days of the Apostle Paul and against which he wrote in his letter to the Galatians.  The latter is a form of thinking that undermines the sanctity and seriousness of God's law.  Sadly, many honest Christian leaders have being led astray with these type of doctrines but there are those who under the guise of being servants of the Lord and zealous for holiness and purity are preaching salvation by human effort undermining the Word of God and the true salvation of the Christian religion by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Kept Saved (and Re-saved) by Repenting

On the other hand we have those who insist that salvation is kept “as long as they repent of the sins committed”.  They, skillfully yet erroneously teach both a form of “man-centered salvation” as well as a dangerous form of “antinomianism” which promotes sinful conduct and lack of fear in God in every way since “I can always repent”.  This way of thinking is too often found in the sinful examples of many who oppose those who stand firmly on the grace of God and maintain that a born again believer once saved by the Grace and power of God is eternally secure in Him.  Many of them continually live and act in deplorable ways such as lying, deceiving, and cheating, committing all kinds of sexual immoralities and spiritual adulteries "without fear of God" (Rom. 3:18) but according to them, being ‘kept saved’ because they “repent”.  To these teachers 'repentance' is something that man does whenever he wants to or feels like it. So, is therefore a “man-centered salvation” system where God is passively waiting for man to do his part.  Interestingly at the same time, this kind of thinking also promotes “antinomianism” because when people ‘think’ that they can simply repent from their sins and thereby ‘retain’  or ‘regain’ their salvation, they will easily sin because somewhere in the back of their minds, they ‘believe’ that they can repent from whatever sinful activity they engaged and ‘remain saved’.  

This particular way of thinking is no better than the doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved” which they vigorously and I should also say ‘hypocritically’ oppose.  While it is true that some false teachers preach that one person’s first and only confession of faith is all it takes to be saved, be it raising the hand at church, responding to an altar call at a crusade and repeating the prescribed “sinner’s prayer” regardless of how they live and act even if no real visible change has occurred in their lives after that moment, the “saved by repenting teachers” preach (or  imply) that you can live a sinful life as long as you repent at the end of the day or at the end of your sinful affair.  I know that I will not loose my salvation as long as a repent”; those are the words I've heard time and time again from the lips of those who hold to such unbiblical doctrine.  It's no wonder that supposed Christian people engage themselves in all sort of sinful actions and remain free of remorse and continue to happily sing the tunes of God because “All I have to do is repent”.  Such schemes are simply diabolical forms of distorting the truth and must be exposed as such.  Men cannot mock God – each one will reap according to his or her works.    

There is no doctrine in the Bible that teaches that you can go ahead and sin just because you will later repent or that salvation is not lost or even “recuperated” once you decide to “repent”.  The Bible clearly states that men are either "under grace" or "under law".  If under grace then there is no condemnation to them because the penalty for our sins has being paid in full by Christ (Rom. 5:1).  But if under law, then the full condemnation of the law is upon them and they shall pay the penalty of sin.  From this point of view salvation is then a work of man and not a work of God.  Conditioning man’s salvation to man’s actions is simply basing salvation upon the merits of man.  It is man who by an act of the will “chooses to repent” or "not repent", thereby ‘meriting’ or ‘not meriting’ the continuation of his or her salvation or the reinstatement of it.  Salvation is then not based upon perfect work of the rock of the ages, Christ the Savior, but on the merits and will of man instead.  According to such scheme, man can and does get saved (or keep his/ her salvation) at his or her own will - to his or her glory.

Repentance in the Bible

Repentance is a very important doctrine of the Bible.  The first step toward salvation in the process of conversion is repentance (Acts 20:21).  That word comes from the Greek ‘metanoia’ and means to change one’s mind, especially about sin.  There is a repentance that is according to God (ie. God produced) and leads to salvation but there is another type of repentance that is according to man (ie. carnally devised) and leads to condemnation (2 Cor. 7:10).  Men must repent in order to be saved BUT repentance is not something that is produced by man so he can get his salvation, repentance is “given by God”.  When a person convicted by the work and power of the Holy Spirit feels the pain of sin after having offended God, the Lord Himself will lead him to repentance.  Such repentance is said to be produced by God.  If God does not give repentance man will not repent but when God gives repentance man will always repent. 

Acts 5:31

Him [Jesus] God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18

18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  

2 Timothy 2

24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will

As we can clearly see in the Scriptures, repentance is part of the work of God in salvation and was given by Him both to Israel and the Gentiles.  Even those who are in the church but are captives of Satan have no hope of repenting if God does not grant them such gift of grace and be saved.  Paul is not even sure that it will happen but states "if God perhaps will grant them repentance".  Take Esau as an example.  The Bible states that after having lost his birthright to his brother Jacob, when he sinfully sold it for a bowl of soup, Esau desired it back but repentance was not found for him.

Hebrews 12

16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

Repentance is required of God - is a command to all men (Acts 17:30).   It is a necessary prerequisite for salvation, yet again if God does not grant repentance to the sinner, there will be no repentance and no salvation.  What does that mean? Salvation is all of Grace and all of God, from beginning to end (Phil. 1:6).

Repentance and the Christian

After becoming a believer in Christ, repentance is not a ticket to ‘retain’ or ‘buy back’ a lost salvation.  Repentance is part of the believer’s life because he or she is secure in the hands of the Father.  Salvation is a gift of God and so is repentance, which is such an important part in the life of the believer.  Christians repent of and confess  their sins not because they fear loosing their salvation but because God has wrought salvation in them and guides them to it (1 John 1:9-10).  A true Christian does NOT think that his or her "holy life" can earn them any points or merit them salvation nor keep him or her saved (or re-saved them).  NEITHER do they sin thinking, “I can repent later”.  Christians know they sin more than they want to which means that one sin is one too many (Rom. 7: 14-25). They struggle against sin in their lives because it offends their Savior and live holy lives to please their Master but in no time should they believe or think that such “holiness” can earn them salvation or keep them from the wrath of a Holy God.  The justification in Christ is what determines the standing of a child of God in His presence.  We are not accepted because we keep ourselves sinless nor because we “keep repenting”.  His Grace and mercy saves us because God has bestowed his love on us and given us salvation by justifying us from all of our sins, adopting us as His beloved children, Hehas made us perfect and sanctifies us by His word.

We, as Biblical Christians should always be paying attention to those strange doctrines that creep into the church, which on the surface seem to be biblical and sound doctrinal truths but are nothing more than a different Gospel than the one once delivered to the saints.



Romans 5:1-2

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

[i] Many of those who believe that salvation can be lost because of sin also make an unbiblical distinction between different kinds of sin where only those “big sins” such as adultery and murder are considered grave enough to cause one’s salvation to be lost, while other no so grave sins are bad but not as bad as to make a person loose his or her salvation.  Such separation and distinction of various sins lacks any scriptural support.  While it is true that some sins cause more damage than others, ALL sins, not just some, cause a person to be eternally separated from God and deserves the penalty for it, eternal condemnation in hell (Rom. 6:23; Rom 3:23).  




 Copyright ©1999-2009 Jorge L. Trujillo
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Written:  November 19, 2006  

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