by Phillip Vanwinkle
AUGUST 28, 2015

Myths of Repentance #3

Myth #3: If I do enough other good things, then that will equal repentance.

We don’t like to admit this one, but this really comes down to the Roman Catholic idea of PENANCE.

Or… “If I pay a certain amount of money, then God will forgive me.”

And you say, “oh that is silly… no amount of money will buy forgiveness of sins” so, that doesn’t happen today in the Lord’s church. And I would agree, I’ve never heard anyone in the Lord’s church say that they can pay penance – and that will count as repentance.

But, you know what I have seen? I’ve never heard anyone come out and say it. They don’t speak it, but they LIVE it- and that is this.

 "I know I did wrong in my past, but now I am going to do right, and that will cover what I did in my past."

Well, let me be the first, to applaud your effort and say good job that you have decided to turn your life around, and that now you are doing good things rather than bad.

But, let us not kid ourselves and just think, that well, I don’t actually have to go and make things right, as long as, I am doing good things now.

You recall the story of Herod, who beheaded John the Baptist, as recorded in Mark 6. How that Herod had killed John, because he had told his wife and daughter that he would give them anything they wanted… and you recall the wife asked for John to be beheaded. So, Herod beheaded John.

You remember how that Jesus came before him to stand trial, and he was glad to see Jesus, thinking it might be John. And how our Lord never opened his mouth to say a word to Herod.

But, Why? "I mean… C’mon Jesus, look… lots of time had passed from that event. And even though I did that, C’mon Jesus, I am doing good things now. I am making better decisions now. Jesus, have a heart! Jesus, don’t you know how long it has been? That’s old history, that’s old news."

"Jesus, guess what, I am using money to feed the poor… I am using my own personal wealth, to do lots of good things. Jesus, I go to the YMCA and teach them about how to be good people. Jesus, can’t you see all the good that I am doing now?"

Would Jesus have just said, “Oh well, never mind that sin then that you did back then. Because, pssshh,  all these good works outweigh that sin - so don’t worry about asking forgiveness, don’t worry about seeking to make things right with his family… don’t worry about it… after all, man, you are giving turkey sandwiches to poor people. Good on you, mate!"

Listen friends, no amount of turkey sandwiches and chicken nuggets is equal to the blood of Christ. And no amount of ‘good works’ – redeems you from previous sins.

The only way that you and I are redeemed from previous sin, is to go to the ones we have sinned against, (if it was a sin against another) ask their forgiveness, and then go and lay our gifts upon the altar to God, seeking His forgiveness too. (see previous blogs about Myths of Repentance

Paul wrote: 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Samuel said:

Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 1 Sam 15:22

All the ‘good works’ in the world, will not forgive sin. We do not achieve salvation by the good works that we do. We attain it by the blood of Christ. We appropriate it by obedience to His will.

In the case of repentance and forgiveness, it cannot be achieved, by simply doing good works, and hoping your good works will somehow outweigh your sin. That, would be a works based salvation. And the scriptures are clear, that good works such as feeding the poor, being friendly with your neighbors etc… while those are good things to do, those things do not forgive sin.

Un-repented sin remains sin that has yet to be repented. The only way to make it right is to do what God has said in His Word. Repent, change your heart, which will lead you to change your life. Make things right with your fellow man, and seek forgiveness from God.


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