You need to repent?

If you think that we need more preaching on repentance, and we need to focus more on repentance for whatever reason, then you're influenced by legalism.

I’ve had a number of people come to me over the years, and I remember one gentleman in particular, come and raise their concern with me that we aren’t focusing enough on repentance. They say that people need to hear more preaching on repentance so that they can start living more holy. They tell me that we need to tell people to turn from sin so that they can live holy. But this is an old covenant view of repentance. Repentance is not turning from sin, and besides, preaching on repentance does not save people. The law mindset will emphasize what people must do (repentance) but grace proclaims what God has already done. Law will always focus on the external (actions), while grace focuses on the internal (the heart). Under the law, repentance is an action and it's got very little to do with the heart; it’s behavior modification, but under grace is repentance has everything to do with the heart. Repentance doesn't start with actions, it starts with the heart and as the heart changes and as you change your thinking, then your actions start to change as a result. Behaviour changes as a fruit of your mind changing. Legalism will use inferior incentives to try and get people to change; it uses fear and judgment. The law-based mindset will say, “you must repent otherwise God's going to get you…” or whatever the case is, but grace changes the heart. As you focus on God’s goodness and loves it will draw people to repentance.

Romans 2:4 says, “The goodness of God leads men to repentance” and yet people who are pushing repentance aren't really preaching the goodness of God, generally they’re preaching hellfire and damnation. In Mark 1:15 Jesus says, “repent and believe the gospel” and that's what repentance is! It's changing your mindset about something and thinking choosing to believe the right thing – the Gospel! New Covenant repentance is not changed behavior but it will result in changed behavior! Jesus did not say in Mark 1 that we should repent and sin no more, he says repent and believe the gospel! It’s not sin focused or behavior focused! Jesus’ idea of repentance is good news (gospel) focused and faith-based! The definition of “repent” is to think differently, or to reconsider something.

If you have bad actions or habits in your life and if you're struggling with things, you don't need to focus on those actions to try and stop them, what you need to do is focus in on changing your heart. You need to think differently; to change or reconsider what you believe about God, about yourself, about the gospel! The Christian who is in bondage and who is struggling with sin is really just the a Christian having an identity crisis. They are not focused on who they are in Christ and who He is in them! If you want real change in your life, turning from sin probably won’t help you because you’ll turn back to it unless your heart changes. True Bible repentance is about changing your way of thinking and believing the gospel – the good news about what Jesus has done for us and is freely offering us! We need to repent (change our minds) and believe the good news of Jesus!

Romans 12:2 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we change our thinking then our lives will be transformed! Proverbs 23:7 says “as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” If we change our thinking, if we change what we believe in our hearts, then as an overflow of our hearts our actions will naturally change. Law says, “I need to stop this” and then it focuses on the fruit of something – it’s simply behavior modification with no heart change. Grace focuses on the root of the issue – the heart – not because of fear of judgment or punishment but because of being motivated by the love of God.


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