Repentance – Turn Back To God

“Therefore, tell them that the LORD of Hosts says this: ‘“Return to me,” says the LORD of Hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Hosts” (Zechariah 1:3).

In a conversation with some Jehovah Witnesses about  being born again into the Kingdom of Heaven, they said they believed that it was only a ‘change in personality’.  Of course this is not Scriptural, and because it came from a group of people who deny the deity of Yeshua and other Biblical truths, I dismissed  it.  I’ve also been told that repentance has nothing to do with turning from sin, but a removal of God’s laws by Jesus on the cross so there is no basis for defining sin.  This also is not a Biblical truth, but a lie from the father of lies.   It is of utmost importance to understand true repentance because it is the foundation of Yochanan’s call at the Jordan River that started the month of Elul.

What is Sin?

The dictionary defines sin as “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.”  This definition agrees with the Biblical definition and should be how kingdom citizens should define sin.

Everyone who sins break the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

Law in this verse is the Greek word nomos.  According to Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, when nomos is preceded by a definite article i.e. ‘the’, it is referring to the Torah of God given to Moses.  Thus 1 John 3:4 should read “Everyone who sins breaks Torah; in fact, sin is lawlessness (anomia).  The Greek anomia means ‘lawlessness’ or ‘without Torah’.  Torah in Hebrew means ‘teachings  and instructions’.

Drawing the logical conclusion from all of the roots of these words, sin is breaking the teachings and instructions of God.  This lifestyle is called lawless by the very definition of sin.  Today lawlessness is everywhere because the Torah has been deemed pointless, useless, legalistic,  bondage and a curse by those who should be exemplifying it with all their hearts, minds and souls to a fallen and dying world.

In complete contrast to these misrepresentations of God’s laws, the apostle John states that the commands of God are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).  Moreover, Yeshua states that obeying the commands is an outpouring of our love for God (John 14:24).   Those who do not love God will make all the excuses they can find to not obey His commands.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for correcting, rebuking, teaching and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

 The above Scripture means exactly what it says.  All Scripture contains teachings and instructions that train us and keep us from being lawless people – whether Jew or non-Jew.  It also means that using Scripture properly, especially Torah and God’s outline for a life of faith,  keeps us as ‘lawful’ citizens of God’s kingdom here.  Above all, ALL Scripture includes the first five books of the Bible.


“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

The dictionary defines repentance as “sincere regret or remorse”.  Though that is a good definition, sincere regret or remorse doesn’t necessarily involve a change in one’s heart and the actions it produces. Being sorry for something isn’t the same as repentance.  Repentance brings salvation – justification, sanctification in the present and ultimately eternal glory.  Most people are ‘sorry’ when they are confronted with something they did wrong and feel bad for getting caught.  Repentance isn’t about being caught, it’s about realizing the need for a change of heart and a change of life.

Metanoia is the Greek word used for ‘repentance’.   This word is found in verses like Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, and Acts 20:21, 26:20.  It suggests that repentance from sin is a action or requirement by God on man’s side of the relational order.

“In the NT the subject chiefly has reference to ‘repentance’ from sin and this change of mind involve both a turning from sin and a turning to God.  The parable of the Prodigal son is an outstanding illustration of this.  Christ began his ministry with a call to repentance (Matthew 4:17), … to the individual.  The effects of repentance are spoken of with a new birth, and generally, in the active turning from sin to God by the exercise of faith … (John 3:3, 9:38, 1:19)”  (Vine’s page 525).

In Hebrew, the word for ‘repentance’ is naham which involves a change of heart.  The new covenant foundation in Ezekiel 36:26-27 involves the transformation of one’s heart from stone to flesh.   The new covenant itself is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34  and Hebrews 8:7-12 and says that ‘the law’ or Torah will be written on the new heart.  This is not something an individual can do in and of themselves, it is the work of God’s Spirit.  However, it is clear that repentance brings more than a change of personality or mind, it brings forth a change in the heart that desires to turn away from sin.

Another Hebrew word often used for repentance is teshuvah. This word literally means ‘to return, go back, bring back, return to the beginning’.  It is often explained as making a 180-degree turn and going the other direction.  True  repentance turns an individual away from breaking God’s commands to becoming obedient to them.   This is the full and redemptive essence of the new covenant.   A repentant heart of flesh will have the ability through the Spirit to make teshuvah and live according to the Torah of God.  The result of repentance will be evident through the living of one’s live in God’s holy and perfect will.  It will forth the fruit of good works in the guarantee of a eternal redemption .

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8, Galatians 5:22-24).

‘Fruit’ is the Greek word karpos and suggests that which is produced by the inherent energy of a living organism.   It can also be used as a metaphor to express  the visible expression of power working inwardly producing the character and image of Yeshua.  Karpos is the opposite of ‘works of the flesh’ and produces spiritual fruits.  Hebrews 12:11, Philippians 1:11, James 3:18 all use karpas as  ‘fruit of righteousness’ or living rightly before God.  One of the results of karpos will be a life of sanctification that serves God.  Karpas is also the word used in the Passover seder for the green herb parsley that is dipped in salt water to symbolize the hyssop and the blood that was put on the doorposts and lintel of the houses in Egypt.  It was upon seeing this ‘fruit of faith’  the the LORD would pass over that home and everyone inside would have life.

“First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds” (Acts 26:20).

‘Deeds’ in this verse is the Greek word ergon and denotes a work where working is stressed.  For those who struggle with the concept of  ‘works’, ‘works’ prove there has been repentance.  These types of  ‘works’ denote things that are worthy to God and glorify God. These ‘works’ correct evils (Philippians 2:12-13).

“In the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

Repentance, brings a person to their senses and leads them to the knowledge of the truth in the Word of God.  The definition of ‘sense’ is: the characteristic of having good judgment, especially when based on understanding.  It also means being able to use their physical senses to perceive and to learn.  Yeshua says the ‘Word is Truth’ and repentance will return us to the Truth so we can be sanctified as the children of God (John 17:17).

“But you know that he (Yeshua) appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.  No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.   Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God” (1 John 3:4-9).

Sin comes from the devil and if we do not turn way from sin, then we have no witness to knowing true salvation.  Until we have repented, we are of our father the devil and hear nothing but lies and are deceived (John 8:44).  Yeshua came not only to remove our sinful nature by defeating the devil, but to remove his lies from our lives in its entirety.  This does not mean will will not battle with sin, be tempted with sin, and need to confess sin when we stumble.  It does mean that we will not keep on sinning as a matter of lifestyle.  It means that we will no longer desire to break the commands of God no matter what they are or where they are found in our Bibles. Because the Spirit of God lives in us just as it did in Yeshua and his apostles, we will yearn to live according to God’s commands because they will be written on our hearts.  As we begin to allow the Torah to be written in our heart, we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds from the ways of our ‘old father’ to the ways of our  ‘new Father’ (Romans 12:1-2).

Like Yochanan at the Jordan,  Yeshua’s message of salvation begins with repentance.  It is his command requirement to enter the Kingdom of Heaven promised by our Father in heaven.

“From that time on Yeshua began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).

“’The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!’” (Mark 1:15).

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:17).

“I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

©2011 Tent Stake Ministries

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