Repentance, Refreshing and One New Man
by Lonnie Lane
He got saved that very moment. From then on he changed. His whole life changed. His speech and his attitude changed. Everything about him changed. That’s the way to get saved. This is a man who knows what he is saved from — himself and his sin. He saw that he was far from God and violating His holiness. He knows Yeshua (Jesus) as his Savior. Saved = Savior; they go together.
But there were actually some people who knew this man who didn’t believe he was really born again, because he didn’t pray the “sinner’s prayer.” He didn’t say the right words, they said. Now I ask you, could you please tell me where the “sinner’s prayer” is in the Bible? Show me where it says in order to be saved we must recite those exact words: Come into my heart, etc. Yeshua never told anyone to say those words. Peter never told the people to say those words. The closest we come to knowing what was said in response to Peter’s Pentecost message was the people asking, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s response wasn’t to say, “Repeat after me.” He told them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37, 38).
They each needed to transact their repentance with God and respond to Him, not just say some prescribed words before men. When we share the Gospel with others, we need to help them understand it is God they need to appeal to for salvation. They’re not responding to us, but to Him! “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Sam’l 16:7). However each person expresses it, God sees when our hearts are in earnest toward Him.
But I fear that many of us have lost the belief that we can really be people of holiness. It’s a carrot before our faces, like the horse that keeps going trying to reach it, without expecting that we’ll ever get there this side of heaven. But the truth is that available to us NOW is “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus [the Messiah] for all those who believe” (Romans 3:22). We have “been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus [the Messiah], to the glory and praise of God.” (Phil 1:11). Furthermore, you who are reading this can say, I am “in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in [Messiah], the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:9). You have available to you the same salvation as “Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus [the Messiah]” who addressed his letter: “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus [the Messiah]” (2 Peter 1:1). Being holy and righteous doesn’t mean we never have anything to repent for. Quite the contrary. It means we avail ourselves of the gift of repentance whenever we “miss the mark” of holiness. It is receiving forgiveness based upon “the blood of Jesus His Son (that) cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). I dare say that the closer you walk with the Lord the more you’re likely to be repenting of even the tiniest infraction, because the bigger issues will have already been dealt with. We “stay” clean through repentance.
Repentance means not to just realize your sin, but must include a response to that realization by turning away from the sin. In Hebrew the word “shuvee” for repentance means to turn, or return. So to repent is to return to God realizing you were away from Him. If one does not turn away from their sin and return to God, it is questionable as to whether they have really seen the error of their ways and that they have violated God’s holy character. Or for that matter, have realized that it matters! It took me a while before I realized all this and that how God saw me mattered. To be honest, it mattered more to me what people thought of me than what God thought of me. Now it’s quite the other way around.
You may be well aware that repentance is not something new to Christianity. It isn’t just a New Testament practice. It sits clearly on the foundation of the entire sacrificial system God gave to Israel. It was all about blood being spilled in order for sins to be forgiven. If you sinned, you had to know it and had to make it right with God, so you brought the appropriate animal to the temple (or bought it there in Yeshua’s day) and that animal which you came to know, especially if you brought it from home, was one you had to turn over to the priests to be killed in your place for breaking God’s law. You saw it die. Sometimes it was that sweet little “lamb-y” with the soft fur and softer innocent eyes that died instead of you for your sin.
God made many provisions for repentance and restoration to Him in the Old Covenant. He knew man would not walk a perfect walk of Torah observance. Only the sinless Son of God was able to do that. But always there is a call from God to walk holy as He is holy. It is always a call toward a higher life, a more perfect life, a more peaceful and satisfactory life of righteousness, and a safer life, for the individuals and the entire community. When we sin we affect not only ourselves but it always affects others. Since we stray from the ways of God which are always righteous, we need to come back to God and righteousness. We need to turn and/or return to God and His ways. Repentance is forsaking the evil way. It means first seeing sin as God sees it, as sin, and then making the commitment to turn away from it if we want to be right with our Father in heaven. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy because I am holy’’” (1 Peter 1:16; Leviticus 19:2; 20:7).
That John or the disciples facilitated immersion (baptism) didn’t mean they ‘dunked’ them all but that they oversaw the process. That 3,000 were saved as a result of Peter’s message meant most likely that those 3,000 went into the mikveh or baptism pools in the temple to immerse themselves, a process they were familiar with, to wash away any uncleanness they may have come in contact with or indulged in. Realizing their sin through the preaching of the word by Peter was cause for mikveh. As there are no rivers like the Jordan anywhere in or near Jerusalem sufficient for baptism, the temple mikveh pools would have been the only place that was possible. To those Jewish persons, entering the mikveh waters was consistent with turning from sin.
Today there are many Christians who are observing the Sabbath and the feasts and fast day of Yom Kippur. There are other practices that are being observed just as the early believers did, not in legalism, but in freedom and in love of the things of God. This is all good! But “occasions” and “practices” aren’t all there is to being One New Man. Repentance was always the primary step to walking with God. Without repentance, there is no biblical salvation. The whole sacrificial system of Israel was about repentance. Repentance is the very core issue of Torah and the prophets.
We who are Yeshua’s can know the light from the darkness, the truth from the lies, the good from the not good. This is a wonderful thing because people without the Spirit of God don’t know what we know. And they don’t know that it matters how they see God or how God sees them. For many, God just isn’t relevant to their lives. They may see the things of God as worthless, because “a natural man (someone without the Spirit of God) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor 2;14). But we who have the Spirit of God through faith in Yeshua can know God and know the things of the Spirit of God. We see the wisdom of the Cross, for instance. “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).
God went to great lengths to make Israel aware of the difference between what is good from bad, healthy from unhealthy, prosperous from depleting, joyful from down-hearted, godly from apostacy…. All this is to say that that a major issue of the people who choose to live a One New Man lifestyle is that of being aware of what is godly and what is not.
Repentance is for the unsaved to bring them to God and for the saved to keep us close to Him. It may be that some are living independently from Him, even if you’re not committing something sinful. God sees that as “walking according to the stubbornness of his own…heart, without listening to Me” (Jeremiah 16:12) and a returning to Him is needed. Motivated by an awareness of being unfit, unclean or unacceptable before the Lord by our sin, we become uncomfortably aware that we are separated from Him, which causes us an anxiety to want to get right with Him. This is as it should be and is actually a gift from Him so that we don’t stay separated from Him. Repentance then, to say it again, is a distinct turning away from what separates us from God. It is not saying you are sorry with no real intention to change your ways.
It is possible to be under conviction by the Holy Spirit of sin in your life and be sorry but still remain in sympathy with the sin. That’s the difference between remorse (sorrow) and repentance (turning). Remorse doesn’t remove you from the sin; it just allows you to feel sorry about it but has no power to take you out of it. Sometimes remorse is self-pity that you are stuck in your sin and can’t get out, but you want God to know you’re really sorry about it. It is possible to recognize the sin and yet not even consider life without it. You may struggle with it, but that’s not the same thing as repenting and forsaking it. We may be remorseful about it, but have no expectation of being able to wash the thing away and out of our lives by the power of the Blood of Yeshua so that we never entertain or allow it to manifest in our lives again. Oh, we may be tempted, but “no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Many people tell God they are sorry over and over but still stay in the sin. Believing we have no power to be rid of our sin is contrary to everything the Kingdom of God is about. There is a reason for this mindset that is clearly not a biblical one but one we have been inundated with in our culture today. We live in a society that tells us wrong behavior results from having been mistreated, or from something that we may have suffered, so that it’s not really our fault. We’re not the culprit, we’re the victim. If we’re the victim then we are not responsible. And if we’re not responsible, then we can’t repent and be set free. Victims are powerless to overcome their victimization. That’s why they’re victims. So long as we are victims, then we are always under the control of the person who or circumstance that victimize us. It’s their fault that we’re like we are, and so we are not free.
Freedom comes from taking responsibility for our behavior and attitudes, and repenting of those things that are unacceptable to God. But without repentance, we are stuck in the forces and circumstances of evil that lie beyond our control. So if we do not really repent upon coming to know Yeshua, we do not really know what He has done for us. We can’t know Him as Savior if we’re not really saved from our sin but are still in the muck of it. Neither are we able to enter in to His freedom, love and truth.
He is also called our Redeemer: “I, the LORD, am your Savior and your Redeemer” (Is 49:26). These two titles go together in this verse and many others. Wait till you hear this. You’re gonna love it: To redeem means to buy back, to free from what distresses or harms, to free from captivity by payment or ransom, to extricate from or help to overcome something detrimental, to release from blame or debt, to free from the consequences of sin, to change for the better, to reform, repair, restore, and to convert into something of value. Is that awesome or what? That’s what Yeshua our Redeemer bought for us with His blood!!! But like a coupon that must be redeemed in order to benefit from its value, we forfeit the value of all that the Lord has made available to us through salvation by not repenting, by not turning away from what is not acceptable to Him. We can really only avail ourselves fully of the redeeming value of our salvation if we “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thes 2:12). If He says we can, then by His grace we can. If He says we should, then by His grace we should.
Reprint of this article is permitted as long as you use the following; Use by permission by Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2009.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships, one in Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked” and numerous articles on this website. She has been the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click Here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked."
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.