1 Peter 1:15-16, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do, for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
God says that He is Holy and He commands us to be holy as He is holy. Since the scriptures teach that “our righteousness are as filthy rags,” it is impossible to repent to become holy unless God stirs us up to true repentance that can only come from God.
Isaiah 64:6-7 (NKJV), “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calls upon your name that stirs up himself to take hold of you: for you have hid your face from us, and have consumed us, because of our iniquities.”
In order to become holy as God is holy, we need to first realize that it is impossible to find true holiness without the work of God stirring us up to find him through true repentance, resulting in true holiness. Secondly, in order to be holy as God is holy, we must know the true meaning of Holiness.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915) correctly explains the true Biblical understanding of the word holiness.
“… within the Biblical sphere, with which alone we are immediately concerned, holiness attaches itself first of all, not to visible objects, but to the invisible Yahweh, and to places, seasons, things and human beings only in so far as they are associated with Him.”
Wherefore, we cannot become holy on our own human effort without being in close association and communion with our Holy Heavenly Father.
THE TRUE MEANING OF BIBLICAL REPENTANCE
OLD TESTAMENT REPENTANCE
Ezekiel 14:6 (NASB) "… Thus says the Lord GOD, "Repent [shub (shoob) – NAS Concordance “to turn back, return”] and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations.”
The scriptural definition of REPENTANCE is to “Turn back,” “turn away,” or turn around’ from wrongdoing. It means to turn away from one’s selfish and sinful lifestyle by TURNING or RETURNING to God.
Ezekiel 14:6 says, “Repent [shub]! Turn away from all your offenses.”
Ezekiel 18:30 says, "Repent [shub], and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin."
Ezekiel 33:11 says, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn [shub] from his way and live. Turn [shub] back, turn [shub] back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?”
Jeremiah 26:3 (NASB), “'Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn [shub] from his evil way, that I may repent [nacham (naw-kham') – NAS Concordance says, “to be sorry” – “change of mind”] of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.”
The Hebrew word “NACHAM (naw-kham’) often refers to God “repenting” in the KJV and other translations. The word can have the connotation of “repenting” or “turning,” but it is more accurately rendered “to be sorry” or experiencing a “change of mind” in the context of the texts where the KJV says that God “repented.”
Genesis 6:6 KJV “And it repented [nacham (naw-kham') – NAS Concordance says, “to be sorry” - “change of mind”] the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
Genesis 6:6 NASB “The LORD was sorry [nacham] that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
The scriptures never speak of God repenting over any wrongdoing as God has no sin or flaw to repent over. When the King James Version speaks of God “repenting,” it is speaking about God being “sorry,” “relenting,” or “changing His mind” about something.
Exodus 32:14 (KJV), “And the LORD repented [nacham “sorry, change of mind”] of the evil [ra’ (rah) – “adversity, affliction, bad, calamity”] which he thought to do unto his people.”
Inspired scripture proves that God is holy and He cannot do anything evil. James 1:13 states that “God cannot be tempted with evil.” Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, His way is blameless.”
The original Hebrew context of Exodus 32:14 is more precisely translated as “harm” or “calamity”.
Exodus 32:14 (NASB) “So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.”
Exodus 32:14 (ISV) “So the LORD changed his mind about the calamity he had said he would bring on his people.
NEW TESTAMENT REPENTANCE
Mark 1:4 (KJV), “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
John the Baptists’ mission was “to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins (Luke 1:77).” Here we find that John the Baptist gave the true knowledge of New Testament salvation through preaching “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” In like manner Peter included repentance as a prerequisite for baptism in Acts 2:38 saying, “Repent and be baptized …”
Strong’s Concordance says that REPENTANCE is from the Greek word “Metanoia” (met-an'-oy-ah) which literally means, “repentance, a change of mind, change in the inner man.”
Many Commentaries allege that the New Testament meaning of repentance is different from the Old Testament meaning of repentance because the Hebrew word for "Repent [shub (shoob) simply means “to turn back, return,” but the Greek word “metanoia” not only means to “repent” or “turn” but also means having a “change of mind in the inner man.” I took this to prayer and the Lord reminded me that the Greek language tends to have more nuances of meaning in the precise definition of words than the Hebrew definition of words. Therefore, the Hebrew word “shub” does not exclusively mean an outward “turning” from sin, as it also implies an inward turning from sin through experiencing a change in mind and heart within the inner man (just like the Greek word “metanoia”).
Yahweh God clearly expressed what He meant by repentance in the Hebrew Bible when He commanded the Israelites to repent by returning to Him with all their hearts.
Joel 2:13 (NASB), "Yet even now," declares the LORD, "Return [shub] to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments." Now return [shub] to the LORD your God.”
Like the Greek word for “repent” (matanoia) in the New Testament implies a change of heart in the inner man, so the Hebrew word for repent (shub) in the Old Testament also implies a “change” of heart “in the inner man.” Hence, both the Old and New Testaments express repentance as a turning away from all offenses against God by turning to Him with “all” our “hearts” and minds.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9 (KJV) “For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle has made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing.”
After reading Paul’s first Epistle, the Corinthian’s were made sorry because they “sorrowed to repentance” in that they experienced an inward change of heart in turning away from their former sinful conduct. The sinning Corinthian’s were not merely sorry that they were caught in various kinds of wrongdoing, they took the word of God to heart by experiencing “sorrow” in their hearts which led to a true repentance.
We know that the Corinthian believers had already believed and repented when they initially received the gospel, so we know that Christians usually have to repent over various kinds of wrongdoing long after they initially repented and were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Although we are initially saved from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light when we first became born again (John 3:3-5; Acts 2:38), true discipleship is an ongoing process of learning how to “walk in the Spirit” and learning how to overcome “the works of the flesh.”
2 Corinthians 7:10 (KJV) “For godly (Theos = God) sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.”
Paul taught by inspiration that true repentance comes from an inward “godly sorrow” that “works” true “repentance to salvation.” Romans 2:4 also states that “… the kindness of God leads you to repentance.” Hence, it is clear that no finites can find true repentance to become holy unless the Infinite God Himself moves upon them to lead them to true repentance which results in true Holiness that comes from God Himself.
True repentance is clearly a “Godly” experience, as “godly” in 2 Cor. 7:10 is translated from “Theos” in Greek which literally means “God”. For it is God who works in the hearts of His true elect to bring about true holiness, as the scripture says, “all our righteousness are as filthy rags” and “there is none that … stirs up himself to take hold of you (God)”. For we cannot turn away from being “slaves of sin (Romans 6:17)” to true “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18) unless God grants us His kind mercy in leading us into true scriptural repentance. True repentance is always a complete repentance which brings a change of heart and mind, resulting in a changed life of true Christ like holiness.
Romans 6:16-18 (NASB), “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
All of humanity must stand before God as either “slaves to sin” (slaves to Satan) or “slaves of righteousness” to God. Christians cannot be the slaves of two Masters at the same time, as “No one can serve two masters” at once.
Matthew 6:24 (NASB), "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
2 Corinthians 7:11 (KJV) “For behold this selfsame thing, that you sorrowed after a GODLY [“Theos” literally means “God”] sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”
Since only “the kindness of God leads” “to” true “Godly” “repentance,” we know that true Biblical repentance only comes from God. Therefore we must humbly ask God for the grace to be able to “walk in the Spirit” and to work out true repentance in our lives, as our own human efforts alone will not result in changed lives.
Jesus himself called on the Ephesian believers to repent because they had lost their first love that they had originally had for him,
Revelation 2:4-5 (Berean Study Bible), “…4But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. 5Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
When I was in the New York City Police Academy, they taught me that public servants can be guilty of both “acts of commission” and “acts of omission.” If a Police Officer commits a crime by abusing his authority in doing something against the law, he becomes a criminal himself. That is a criminal “act of commission.” Likewise, if a Police Officer fails to serve the public by failing to perform his duties in serving and protecting the public, his failure to act is also considered a crime, an act of omission. Therefore we can see that Christians can be guilty of two types of crimes against God: we can break God’s commandments by doing wrong things, and we can also be guilty of failing to perform our Christian responsibility that the Lord has commanded us, such as witnessing, giving, loving our neighbors, and regular church attendance.
Jesus said that the Ephesian Christians had lost their first love, and if they failed to “repent and perform” their “deeds” they “did at first” that Jesus would “remove” their “lampstands from its place.” Christians often use to “perform the deeds” that God has commanded when we were enthusiastic new converts. Just like a spouse is initially enthusiastic about his new relationship in marriage, but is prone to later lose his first love, so Christians can lose their initial enthusiasm in their walk with God in failing to perform our Christian responsibilities which are explicitly laid out in scripture.
Revelation 3:14“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write … 15‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”
Since the Laodicean Christian’s deeds were “lukewarm,” Jesus said that he would “spit” them “out of” his “mouth” unless they repented. Here we see that when professing Christians fail to zealously perform the duties that he has commanded us to perform as on fire Christians, then Jesus will surely reject us from his kingdom on judgment day!
Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Our Lord commands his followers to “overcome” the works of the flesh, Satan, and demon powers just as he overcame. Spirit filled believers can become so lukewarm in their devotion to Christ that Christ is actually being pushed outside of the professing Christians rather than dwelling on the inside. That is why Jesus said, “I stand at the door and knock.” Paul wrote that he was travailing that “Christ” would “be formed” in the Galatian believers (Gal. 4:19). If we fail to allow Christ to be formed in us, then Christ is being pushed outside of our hearts and is left outside waiting to come in.
“My children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Galatians 4:19, Berean Study Bible
Many Pastors have lied to their congregations by giving professing Christians false hopes that do not line up with the words of God. The true standard for all true Christians to observe is to be on fire for God by zealously taking up our crosses so that Christ’s character (“the fruit of the Spirit) (Gal. 5:22)” will live and be displayed in us.
Romans 8:29-30 states that God’s foreknown elect are to be “conformed to the image of his Son.” This means that we must overcome just as Jesus overcame. If we fail to be conformed to the image of our example, “the man Christ Jesus,” then we will not stand in white with him at his glorious appearing. All true Christians must “be zealous therefore and REPENT” so that we may enter into the straight and narrow path that leads to life.
“Lord, someone asked Him, will only a few people be saved? Jesus answered, Make every effort to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” Luke 13:23-24 Berean Study Bible
“Then the king told the servants, ‘Tie him hand and foot and throw him outside into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:13-14 Berean Study Bible