Repent from your sins to be saved?

As you read this I ask if you would consider making it a mini-Bible study by looking up the linked passages if you don’t know them. I also shared a couple of previous articles in the links should you feel led to read them.

If I thought I had to repent from sins or turn from all my sins to be saved eternally, I would try with all my might because I surely wouldn’t want to die. But eventually, I’d collapse back into fear, because I’d know that I’d failed (if I were honest). I am not talking about turning from sin once we are believers, or maintaining good works as believers (Titus 3:8), but of the false teaching many have that you must repent from your sins, be sorry for them, or turn from all of them in order to receive the free gift of eternal life. To clarify: One might actually feel sorry for their sin, some may turn from some of them, but this is not a condition for eternal life.

That thought (of the old tapes of repenting from sins to be saved), came to me as I reflected and prayed for several (people who are still alive), that I know have defended or taught this false position to many. I know He doesn’t desire them to perish either. And I am certain that people who think they believe in God, yet don’t have the gospel right, certainly don’t want to perish either. However, they seem stuck on that hamster wheel of works to be saved or prove they (or you) are saved. Unwilling to discuss Scripture, they don’t want to ‘debate’. The Bible says, “there is a way that seems right to man, but the end thereof is death.”

Frienemies

I remember I had a friend, who became what I call my frienemy. I know they may never have been my friend, but still, I loved them. And I still do. And I am also concerned for them, although they have become an enemy of the gospel by what they preach to others. One such friend used to love Paul Washer and was constantly sharing similar works teachers (Charles Spurgeon, Ray Comfort, John MacArthur, et al). Way back then, (maybe around 2007-08 time period), I remember I just could not stand that video that he preached to young kids (‘The shocking youth message’). It sickened me, as he accused the audience of not being saved, and I thought about the fear it had instilled in young ones who believed in Him. Where was the good news?… I wonder sometimes what goes through the mind of these people. Are they sincere, but just sincerely wrong, or are they simply ravening wolves inwardly, who just happen to look like sheep? (Matt 7, which incidentally is the passage they use to accuse others of not being saved).

I was thinking on this one particular friend (who became my enemy). The last encounter I had with her was with another, who became my frienemy (due to her acceptance and pushing of hyper-Calvinism and lordship doctrine). As I tried to reason with them, they both laughed and mocked me, and said in their public postings, that I was most likely ‘reprobate’. I felt (and still feel) sad for them, even as I wondered then how they had no compassion if they themselves were saved. Wouldn’t they want to explain it vs. accuse? Why not preach me the gospel if they thought I was reprobate? My conclusion is neither knew it.

Fear

I no longer feel the fear I would feel at times from people who were holier than I (surely). I was living a lightly carnal lifestyle, one in which there was no satisfaction because I knew the difference between right and wrong, and yet was dangling my toes in the waters. I felt that I was good, and I realize now that somehow, I believed I was better than others because I didn’t do this or that. But there was such misery in being out of fellowship with the One who gave Himself for me in such great love. Who would want to be like what I had become (self-righteous and in truth miserably sad)? I didn’t even recognize it in myself, I always thought I was so nice to others. But, when I had gotten into that trap (of believing turning from sin was part of the gospel message), it was like quicksand threatening to pull me completely under. I would pray and ask for forgiveness, (knowing I would likely sin again pretty quickly). It was because I just couldn’t give up certain things, or didn’t have the strength to, because I was not abiding in Him, and I was in a vicious circle. The fear was palpable. But the Lord reminded me from His Word that He paid for all of my sins, not even the ones in the past or present, but even the ones I would commit in the future. Paid for at His cross (Col 2:13-15). And that He did not give me a spirit of fear (so it must be from the accuser) but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. That did not mean that my status, being carnal, not continuing in His Word, not abiding in Him did not have its chastening. It did – thank the good Lord.

Get back in His Word

But the Holy Spirit brought many things to my remembrance back then from His Word. I needed to get back into His Word, and I needed to pray more — and truthfully, that’s all I thought I could do. Yet I still had to ask the Lord for help, because I was in a place of much sorrow due to my husband’s illness and so much that I was responsible for. The burdens were huge. I had to ask the Lord for help to want to even want to do the right thing. I was without strength of any kind; I was spent emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I was in fear whenever I thought about it, but I started telling Him about it each time and I’d pray again. I read His Word. And as I read and studied, and talked to Him about it, I gained some strength. Each time, more strength.

Luke 10:38-42 became a life passage to me, as did Proverbs 3:5-6. I used to think Mary was just lazy, but I realized that nothing is more important than spending time with Jesus hearing His Word. The one thing that will never be taken from us. And if we can just acknowledge Him in more of our ways, He will direct our paths. (I know there is more to that passage). But I took it to mean that I would try to pray more for small things, and learn to trust in Him, as my faith grew by hearing His Word (Romans 10:17). Over time I began to see that the simple formula of abiding in Him (for apart from Him we can do nothing) and continuing in His Word (John 8:31-32) was found or expressed in so many passages. His Word (I firmly believe), literally strengthens and revives us when our soul clings to the dust. And my soul was clinging to the dust, and my soul literally felt like it was melting from the weight.

My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. I have declared my ways, and You answered me; Teach me Your statutes.  Make me understand the way of Your precepts; So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.  My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word. Psalm 119:25-28

When those two enemies (who discussed me being reprobate), came to my thoughts again, I prayed for as they came to mind. I am not angry with them for what they said about me, but I sure also pray they don’t trip up someone, hurt them, lead them astray. I pray they come to know the truth, but while they are not that God will stop their mouths. There were others I thought of. Some very self-righteous and destructive. To them, surely, I was the gross sinner who just wanted to live like the devil. And so they gossiped about me to others. Some probably had some truth, a lot had no truth at all. But those tasty morsels of slander that go down into the inward parts will not nourish, but will poison the one speaking them and also those listening. It sows discord in the body at the least. I pray for them too.

I also am in great compassion, remembering I was/am nothing without Him. But because of His love, mercy and sacrifice, I am now His, solely because I trusted in Him and no other reason. No work, no promise, no amount of trying would have ever worked, I could not do it.

These people have to at some point realize, (I hope and pray), that they are not now, and never will be good enough. We all have sinned and fallen short of His glory. We cannot be good enough — ever. One little lie, one ‘little’ sin, would separate us from Him. There is no sliding scale or bell curve with God. The only ‘proof’ that we are saved is that we have believed His truth, His work in our place.

I know now the reason I wasn’t growing was because I had gotten into the same bondage as the Galatians. Bewitched for a time by these types of lawkeepers. Trying to justify myself somehow by what I did. Oh, I believed He paid the price, but I forgot I was the child of the freewoman, not the slave. I was not under the law — Christ is the end of the law for righteousness for those of us who believe (Rom 10:4). Besides, no one has ever been justified by the law (Gal 2:16), so they have either fallen from grace (completely out of His will, hypocrites (Gal 2:11-21).

I had been shipwrecked for a time. Led astray by people with a faulty gospel, another gospel, an accursed gospel. Really, we should call it what it is, even if people were taught, (like me), if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. No! We do not have the ‘can’t we get along’ mentality when it comes to a false gospel. Even an unclear gospel needs to be confronted, as Paul did with Peter, Barnabas and James even in Galatians. False gospels will ruin lives. It will render the bewitched people ineffective at sharing the gospel because they are unsure of what it is. It will keep unsaved people lost. It’s a matter of life and death! Believers were warned not to put up with it (2 Cor 11:3-4).

If you are in doubt with what someone is telling you, search the Scriptures, prove all things (Acts 17:11; 1 Thess 5:21). Isaiah 55:10-11 tells us how the Word of God will settle on us and what it will give to us. Read it and answer that question for yourself. Are they giving you food to eat or seed to sow? Is it settling like the rain or snow from heaven? Did it bring forth bud?

John 13 gives a picture of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples (the ones He said were ‘already clean’ but Judas). This passage is a wonderful picture of what we still need after we become believers. Our feet get dirty walking through this world, we need washed and cleansed in His Word (Eph 5:26; Ps 119:9-11). Jesus prayed for us to be sanctified by the truth, His Word is truth (Jn 17:17). And He talked about if we love Him, we will feed His sheep (John 21:15-17). How will we feed them, with what? What is their necessary food? (Job 23:12)

Remember the song, be careful little eyes what you see? My admonition is to really be careful what you hear, who you hear it from, and when you listen to someone who claims to be faithfully speaking His Word, make sure you check the Scriptures in prayer, trusting Him to show you.

And remember, when you make enemies for speaking the truth, Jesus made many enemies when He spoke the truth. This is not a pride thing about being right, but should be a desire to humbly do right in His sight. Micah prophesied that God has shown us what is good and what He requires of us. To do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God (Mic 6:8).

Keep your eyes on the Author and Finisher of your faith (Heb 11:1). Abide in the Vine and continue in His Word. With much love, Holly

P.S. – Please consider reading Romans 7:14-25 again, slowly and prayerfully.

6 Responses to “Repent from your sins to be saved?

  • C. Trogicj
    1 week ago

    Great post. Thank you for writing and sharing.
    Great reminder to keep in the Word and have nothing to do with the slightest corruption of the gospel. Sometimes I am not sure how to go about this as all of my family is lordship, or at the least attend lordship churches and they don’t like to get into discussions/disagreements on the gospel. Sometimes I try to talk with them because I am concerned but this can at times put a lack of clarity in my mind if I continually hear what they say.

    It is interesting what you mentioned how you would try with all your might if you thought salvation was based on turning from sin. I remember doing this as a child under lordship teaching and becoming hopeless, believing nothing but he’ll awaited me. When I got older and heard the real gospel through reading a Gospel Booklet, I was surprised to realize many lordshippers did not appear to have any fear over their salvation. It made me wonder if they even believed what they said as lordship teaching had put me in total fear and bondage. I still don’t fully understand this.

    I didn’t see a place to reply but thank you for your reply on the other thread about George Zeller. I will see if I can find anything on Expreacherman’s site regarding him, thanks. Have a great Thanksgiving.

    • Carlie, if you are on FB, make sure you friend me there. I have a lot of family that are also in that understanding and more and more coming out. Being strong in His Word is really helpful, and yet it is best not to hear them if they put a lack of clarity there. That’s also where being a Berean is so helpful. As a child I tried to, but it always seemed to get worse, plus you end up giving up when you feel hopeless, or you ignore it and just think you’re doing better than the next guy.

      I think they have no fear because some are blinded by the god of this age, and if they believed on Jesus and got into bondage like the Galatians, reading Galatians might help them out 🙂 On the other thread, I’m not sure, even my own responses sometimes don’t show up unless I remember to ‘approve’ them. It didn’t used to be that way.

      God bless you this Thanksgiving and give you much joy and thankfulness for our salvation.

  • Robert Edmund Hesseling
    1 week ago

    THANKS for this post.

  • Wonderful and thoughtful post, Holly. Sadly, I fear it may go over some Christians’ heads, especially if they are using the NLT, which usually adds “to your sins” to the word repent. The NIV and ESV also tend to lean in the Lordship direction, in my experience. For example, 1 John 3:9 has some form of “they cannot go on sinning”. Perhaps not surprisingly, those are the three best selling Bible versions on the market today (besides the King James). It really makes me wonder how much these translations are swaying folks toward Lordship salvation.

    • Thanks DJ, I am noticing that is the pattern on the FB page of Redeeming Moments. The NLT and the Good News Translation, along with even the ‘Voice’ (‘turn from their past’ is one usage), add the extra words and convey a meaning that may or may not be in some of the verses.

      1 John 3:9, KJV gets right, on ‘do’ or ‘commit’, vs. the common ‘practice’ (which is not there in the original). The word in 1 John 3:9 is poieo and means commit even once. So they need to understand this speaks of the new man. Oddly, NKJV gets the usage of prasso (practice) right in Romans 7:19:

      For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.

      I prefer to stick with the literal versions, and KJV is an excellent translation, but not the only one I look at. I like having a few parallels side by side, so where I see a difference, I can study up on the original and the context, and feel like I did my part being diligent (2 Tim 2:15), another word better used instead of study, although I learned it the other way. Both have the same basic meaning.

      I agree with you that several of these translations sway people towards lordship doctrine sadly.

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