From the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He called sinners to repentance, saying: “REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:17

Jesus declared that:  “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that REPENTETH.”  Luke 15:7

The Apostle Peter stated that, not only must we believe (be converted), we must repent that our sins may be forgiven, saying:  “REPENT ye therefore, AND BE CONVERTED, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”  Acts 3:19

He also made clear the fate of those who will not repent, saying:  “except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3

After His death, resurrection and before His ascension back to heaven, Jesus opened up the scriptures to the disciples understanding and declared that He had fulfilled the scriptures and what the disciples’ mission must henceforth be: 

“And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.   Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:   And THAT REPENTANCE AND REMISSION OF SINS SHOULD BE PREACHED in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.”  Luke 24:44-48 

Thus we see that not only is believing in and receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior necessary for salvation, we must also repent that we may be forgiven of our sins. 

At the day of Pentecost and thereafter, we see through numerous scriptures that the disciples of Jesus indeed faithfully carried out their calling to preach repentance and remission of sins. On the day of Pentecost Peter boldly proclaimed Christ Jesus as the resurrected Lord and the people responded as follows:   

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?  Then Peter said unto them, REPENT, AND BE BAPTIZED every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”  Acts 2:37-38

So, just as Jesus preached repentance from the very outset of His ministry, so it was with the apostles. They were faithful to the charge of the Lord and boldly preached faith and repentance from the very outset of their ministry, as Holy Spirit empowered disciples of Jesus. 


It is not uncommon to hear today a “faith only” message - that we need only believe in Jesus to be saved -  or that when we believe in Jesus we merely have a change of mind and turn away from sin going forward - and God transforms us, but that we do not need to confess our sins to God and repent (ask God for forgiveness).  It is true that there are a number of bible verses that say that when we believe and put our faith in Jesus Christ, we receive everlasting life and are saved.  But we cannot overlook the many passages that also make clear that we must not only believe, we must confess our sins and repent to God that we may receive a remission of our sins.  Again, this fact is illustrated as Peter proclaimed to the people that they must:  “REPENT ye therefore, AND BE CONVERTED, THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT . . .”  Acts 3:19

The Book of Acts clarifies for us that we put our Faith in Jesus Christ (the Son) and that we repent to God (the Father):  “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, and FAITH TOWARD OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.”  Acts 20:21 

“When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE.”  Acts  11:18  Thus, we see that the apostles understood that Faith in Christ and Repentance to God was the gospel message and the way to be born again and receive the gift of grace and everlasting life. 


Proverbs tells us:  “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso CONFESSETH AND FORSAKETH them shall have mercy.”  Proverbs 28:13 

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  IF WE CONFESS OUR SINS, he is faithful and just to FORGIVE us of our sins, and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:8-9 

Thus, to repent, we must Confess our sins to God (Acts 20:21).  But, not only do we confess our sins, we also Forsake our sins (turn away from sin; Romans 6; Galatians 5:16-21).  [Note here that it is to God that we confess our sins, not to a priest or ecclesiastical leader such as a bishop or pastor – no one and no church or organization should stand between you and God.  No person or organization can forgive you of your sins.  Only God has the right and power to forgive sin.] 

Jesus gives us the model of the attitude of repentance with the parable of the comparison of the Pharisee and the Publican’s prayers.  Unlike the Pharisee (a Jewish religious leader) who recounted all his own self-perceived righteousness to God in his prayer, the Publican (a Jewish tax collector – and the among the most despised in their society by the Jews) prayed as follows:

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME A SINNER.  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.  Luke 18: 13-14 

So, repentance is an act of humbling yourself and acknowledging your sinful state to God.  If you don’t recognize our sin, how can you repent and turn away from it? 

The apostle Paul further clarified that part of repentance is recognizing that you have done wrong and feeling sorrow that we have sinned against God, stating:

“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that YE SORROWED TO REPENTANCE: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.  For GODLY SORROW WORKETH REPENTANCE TO SALVATION not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.  2 Corinthians 7:9-10


From scripture, we can plainly see that repentance does not need to be a drawn out process and it is not a case where we must clean ourselves up and then come and repent to God.  To the contrary, it is at that moment that we recognize our sinful state and are sorry that we have sinned against God that we should confess it to God and repent, asking Him for forgiveness.  This should be part of the act of confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  At that moment, His precious blood washes away or sins.  Cleaning ourselves up and making ourselves good has nothing to do with it.  God alone forgives and washes away our sins with the blood of Jesus and it is through faith in Jesus Christ that His righteousness is imputed to us.  [He who knew no sin, became our sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:21].  It is by the righteousness of Christ Jesus that we may enter into God’s Kingdom and presence, not by our own righteousness or our own merits or works.  There is no sin that you have committed that God cannot forgive and wash away. To those who repent and receive Christ, the blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin:  "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSETH US FROM ALL SIN."  1 John 1:7 


And when he [the Holy Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  John 16:8  

It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of our sinful state and need for repentance.  Just as with the Jews that heard Peter preach on the day of Pentecost were “pricked in their hearts” and asked Peter what they should do – and he responded that they must repent and be baptized and then they should receive the Holy Ghost.

If you have not yet confessed your sins to God and asked Him for forgiveness and confessed Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, receiving His finished work on the cross on your behalf, you should do that now.  Then your first act of obedience should be to be baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit.

After we have put our faith in Jesus, repented and been baptized, we must press forward in righteousness and not continue in sin.  

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.  And ye know that HE WAS MANIFESTED TO TAKE AWAY OUR SINS; and in him is no sin.  WHOSOEVER ABIDETH IN HIM SINNETH NOT: WHOSOEVER SINNETH HATH NOT SEEN HIM, NEITHER KNOWN HIM.   Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. WHOSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD DOTH NOT COMMIT SIN; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  IN THIS THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE MANIFEST, AND THE CHILDREN OF THE DEVIL: WHOSOEVER DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, neither he that loveth not his brother.  1 John 3:4-10

See also:  Salvation & Eternal Life ; Baptism ; Holy Spirit ; Born Again Now What

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