“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)
These words are not heard in many churches today, the one that desires to come to Christ is merely told they are a sinner, and that Jesus can take away their sins if they will but believe on His name. Big difference.
Salvation by grace through faith is not a contract that we enter into with the Lord, it is not an agreement that we will try to not sin as much anymore if He will only make our lives better, but in a sense that is what many churches do these days, the repentance they teach is not necessary for salvation, only believing is. Believing is easier, it requires only the mind to understand as best as it can the words of the Scriptures, the heart is left out of the equation, at least that part of it that seeks to understand the realization of the truth that we are abhorrent in the eyes of God before that moment of salvation, that we have nothing at all in our lives that is worthy of His recognition.
“Except ye repent” are some very strong words, there is no clause involved here, there is nothing less than an ultimatum given, if you do not repent, you will die in your sins. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
David knew this before his sin with Bathsheba, but I do not believe that he ever experienced it to this depth before, his sin was against God Himself, and he was more than just sorry, he was more than just sorry he got caught, he was repenting in tears for what he had done to the name of the Lord, causing it to be dishonored. (2 Sam. 12:14)
Repentance is the complete and total turning away from the direction or action of our lives, it is to be born-again to those who came to the cross of Christ for the salvation of our souls. It causes the drunk to stop drinking, it causes the drug addict to never take more than an aspirin or two for the rest of his life, it causes the adulteress to love her husband. But more than these, it allows the Holy Spirit to begin to turn a heart of stone to one of flesh, to teach a person the reality of love and compassion, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Repentance is the very first step that must be taken before we can call ourselves Christians, and at the exact same moment that the true repentance of a sinner is brought to the foot of the cross, faith and the Holy Spirit enter into that life.
True repentance causes a man to live his life for the glory of God, to hate this world, to bring to the knowledge of all that he meets the redemptive power of Christ and in Christ alone for joy, love and eternal happiness.
We do not hear the word repent much anymore, it seems harsh, it screams at the hearer that they are not worthy as they are, that there must be a visible change in the heart that all can see, it is a word of offense to many people. It’s much easier to just say I believe, get baptized, show up to church once a week and then get back to the matter of living. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
This is for those who have truly been saved, it is how we repent for turning back to our own vomit, (Prov. 26:11) it is how we fall on our knees and confess that we are still weak, that the battle of the flesh, that old man inside of us is too much sometimes. Repentance is something that we do on a regular basis, or at least we should, but if you find that you are continuously repenting of the same thing over and over, then you need to admit one of two things to yourself, either you have not truly repented, or you are not saved. I see no other options at this time.