This is an article written by my good friend and brother in Christ, Alexei Tentiuc. It was originally written in Romanian and I have translated it into English so that you may be just as blessed by it as I was.
The deeds of repentance do not come about from your own will power. The deeds of repentance come as a result of a changed mind. “Metanoia”, the Koine Greek word that is translated “repentance” in English simply means “a change of mind”. A person who has experienced genuine repentance has had a radical change in his way of thinking take place. The way that he views things also change as a result of the change in his way of thinking. As a result of a change in thinking and faith in Jesus Christ, a person who has repented will also see a change in his actions. This is what the Bible teaches on the subject of repentance, faith, and the deeds worthy of repentance. Let’s take a look for ourselves in the Word of God to discover these important truths.
Genuine repentance is manifested in deeds worthy of repentance
When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan river, a group of people came to be baptized yet did not want to repent, as John was telling them to do. Take a look at what John tells these people, instead of baptizing them he shares the following:
7 So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.
9 “Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
10 And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?”
11 And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”
12 And some tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
14 Some soldiers were questioning him, saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not take money from anyone by force, or accuse anyone falsely, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3)
Some of the people in the crowd did not want to have their minds changed. They were just fine with their way of life. There was no desire to repent and they did not even feel the need to repent. They just wanted to perform a ritual that would help them avoid eternal punishment. They were looking for some fire insurance to keep them out of hell. Does that sound familiar? These people claimed to be children of Abraham but the Scriptures show us that they were not whom they pretended to be. My dear friend, just claiming to be a believer does not make you a believer. Richard Wurmbrand, in his book, “In God’s Underground“, says that God divides “Christians” into two categories; those who have believed with all of their heart and have been born again, and then those who think that they believe in Jesus Christ. There is a huge difference between these two categories of people. The Lord Jesus uses many parables to compare these two groups. Here is one of them from the “Sermon on the Mount”.
16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?
17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.
19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7)
Our lifestyles are a testimony to us which kind of tree we really are. Our deeds speak volumes about who we really are. The path to faith in Jesus Christ does not begin with good works. The path to faith in Jesus Christ begins with repentance. A change of mind must take place before we will place our trust in Christ. The good works will follow repentance and faith. The good deeds will be a manifestation of the first two events. I don’t do the deeds to prove the first two, instead, the deeds follow as a result of the first two. There is a huge difference between those two types of thinking.
Genuine repentance is manifested by doing God’s will
Immediately after Jesus spoke about the good tree and the bad tree, He teaches the following:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7)
The fact that you have learned the lingo and call Jesus Lord does not mean that you have surrendered to the leadership of the Lord Jesus. There are many people who call Jesus Lord and Savior yet, He is not the actual Ruler of their lives. They went to great lengths to imitate the Christian life, preaching and serving, along with calling Jesus Lord, yet, this was all imitation. They learned the lingo. They learned the right activities to be a part of yet there was never genuine repentance and faith because there was never a lifestyle transformation. The remained slaves to their sin nature even though they were doing all the right “service” projects and saying the right things. Genuine repentance will lead to genuine faith and genuine faith will produce deeds worthy of repentance. Sin’s power will be destroyed. The way you think will be transformed. Your character and attitude will be transformed. Your lifestyle, when it comes to sin, will be radically transformed.
The question that arises is, “how can a person who has prayed the sinner’s prayer and then, after a period of time, return to the old way of life”? First of all, my dear friend, you must understand that simply repeating a prayer is not the same thing as genuine repentance and genuine faith.
Repentance is a result of sorrow according to the will of God
Most people often confuse repentance with a prayer where they say, “Lord, forgive me …” That is not repentance. Yes, when a person repents before God wholeheartedly, he apologizes, but this fact must be the result of his understanding of who he really is and who God really is. If the person does not see and does not fully understand the gravity of his sin, he will not be able to repent. Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and immediately after that, said: “Blessed are those who mourn (over their sin) …”. When you understand poverty of spirit, you see how miserable you are without God and you cannot do anything about it. This is when the person cries out to God for help, as did the tax collector in the Gospel of Luke: ” Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.” This cry is the result of a broken spirit, a sorrowful heart. In fact, it is godly sorrow. That is why the Apostle Paul writes:
10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. (II Corinthians 7)
Dear reader, I highly recommend the Precept Bible study course, “Turning your heart toward God.” By studying this course, you will understand what a changed life looks like and to live a satisfying life as you walk with God. You will become a person who truly has peace through Jesus Christ. May the Lord help us to live in a manner worthy of the Gospel!