The “Repent of Sins” Heresy
What I want to preach about today is what I believe is the #1 heresy facing the Christian church today.
And there’s nothing new about this heresy; it’s the same heresy that’s been preached by every false religion for ages.
It’s been preached by the Catholic church, many Protestants, and even some Baptists.
It’s been preached by every false religion that places emphasis on works as a means of eternal salvation – as opposed to faith alone through Jesus Christ.
Now within official Christendom, this heresy takes on two separate forms.
It manifests itself in 2 different ways which are ultimately 2 sides of the same coin.
1. First, it takes the form of an in your face, outright, openly works-based Gospel, as presented most predominantly by the Roman Catholic church.
We all know that the Catholic church teaches a works-based Gospel.
They don’t deny it, they don’t hide it.
The Catholic organization teaches that grace & faith alone aren’t sufficient to save, that faith must be accompanied by good works in order to achieve genuine salvation.
Now, I don’t want to pick on the Catholic church today, I’ve done that in plenty of other sermons …
But the Catholic church teaches an overtly works-based message.
That’s the more obvious form that this heresy takes.
2. The second form that this heresy takes is a much more subtle, hidden works-based Gospel message which they try to bring in through the backdoor.
It’s the same msg, it’s just covert; it’s hidden; it’s deceptive.
In some ways, I respect the Catholic method, because at least they’re not trying to outright deceive you about what they teach (unless you get into the Jesuits, which is another story).
But at least they’re upfront that they believe in a works-based Gospel.
• But when it comes to many evangelicals, Charismatics, Pentecostals, and even some Baptists …
They’ll speak out of 2 sides of their mouth.
& they’ll tell you that salvation is by faith alone, but then they’ll say that you have to “turn from your sins” in order to be saved.
And you might say well, what’s wrong w/ that?
If you don’t know, you need to listen to this sermon very carefully.
*** And what I’m talking about is the “repent of sins” heresy, aka “Lordship salvation”.
This is the idea that you have to make Jesus complete Lord of your life by obeying Him in order to get saved.
Not for discipleship, but for salvation.
And that’s the distinction that I want to make:
* You have to be able to separate THE MOMENT OF BELIEF & SALVATION from the DECISION TO DEDICATE YOURSELF TO THE LORD.
What this sermon is focused on is the moment of salvation.
• There’s a difference between SALVATION & DISCIPLESHIP.
• Jesus became my Savior when I believed in Him and asked Him to save me.
The moment I believed, I was saved.
The moment I confessed – not to man but to God – and asked Jesus to save me, I was cleansed by the blood, I was born again, I Received the Holy Ghost.
Now, the Holy Ghost inside of me, I had the desire to forsake my sins …
It didn’t come before I got saved, it came after I got saved.
After I got saved, I had the desire to follow the moral Law, not for salvation anymore, but because I had the power now.
I had the desire now, to follow God’s commandments.
And I had a choice to make: would I follow?
Luke 14:27: “And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
Yet Preachers like Ray Comfort and those like him are barring the way to heaven and turning people away into Hell:
“But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).
The decision before me was salvation (which was already done) & discipleship (which was yet to happen).
I chose both.
I made Jesus my Savior & my Lord.
But still I’m an imperfect servant.
But many modern evangelicals are bringing in a works-salvation secretly through the backdoor and pretending that it’s by faith alone!
And that’s what makes it so dangerous!
They’re lying! They’re false teachers! They’re false prophets “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”
And we hear The “Repent of Sins Heresy” preached from false teachers like Ray Dis-Comfort, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, and others.
And you might why are you naming names?
Because Paul said to MARK THEM which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them:
18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18
But I have to tell you that I’m sick of hearing it from the Do-Not-Judge Cult who attack me for preaching a hard msg, and then turn around & tell me that works must accompany salvation.
& They’ll claim that if you’re really saved, you’ll have good works.
That works will be the evidence of your faith.
But isn’t that just the same as saying that you have to do works to be saved?
Romans 4:5: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
So you have to decide: Which is it?
Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Paul is being mathematical here.
He’s saying there’s no shade of variance.
It’s either works or grace &
They’re diametrically opposed.
That’s the very definition of grace: that it can’t be earned. It’s undeserved.
You can’t work your way to God.
27 Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
*** ARE YE SAVED THROUGH FAITH; and that not of your selves: IS IT the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast OR IS IT NOT?
Is Romans 3:20 God’s Word when Paul says: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.”
Can you trust Galatians 3:2 where the Bible says: “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
Or Verse 6, which says: “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Or Verse 11: “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.”
How about Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
There’s literally hundreds of verses in the Bible that just say “believe”. Believe and you will be saved.
But preachers like Ray DisComfort & John MacArthur will say that you have to:
Repent of your sins … turn from your wicked ways … stop fornicating, stop drinking, stop lying, stop bearing false witness, stop taking the Lord’s name in vain, and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
IS THAT THE GOSPEL?
Now it sounds really good.
It sounds really righteous.
But is it the Gospel?
Do you have to stop sinning before you can be saved?
If you answer YES to that, which sins do you have to turn from? ALL OF THEM?
Some of them? The big ones? The little ones? What about sins you don’t even know about?
Do you see how this creates a grey area in the Bible, when salvation should be BLACK & WHITE.
God is not the author of confusion.
Now, look if an unbeliever came to me and said they want to turn from their sins, they want to stop fornicating, they want to stop lying, stop cheating, and accept Jesus, I would encourage that.
I’m not saying don’t turn from your sins …
I’m just saying understand that turning from your sins isn’t what saves you in the end– it’s Jesus’ blood that saves, it’s His sacrifice that saves, not yours.
Do those things because you love God & want to obey God, and because God might punish you if you don’t.
But RAY COMFORT SAYS THAT YOU HAVE TO
ACTUALLY STOP SINNING.
How is that even possible?
But here’s Ray in his own words, from his website, LivingWaters.Com:
And look, I really liked Ray Comfort, I liked his 180 Movie about abortion … But let me prove to you that Ray Comfort is a heretic:
“Merely being sorry for your sins, or confessing them to God won’t help you. You must turn from sin (repent), and your faith must be in Jesus Christ alone.”
John MacArthur says the same thing.
I have a video clip of MacArthur literally saying, “Turn from your sins and believe in Jesus”.
“You have to face your own sinfulness; You have to face the reality that you’ve violated the Law of God; that you’re headed towards judgment and eternal Hell, and in order to be saved from that, you have turn from you sin and embrace the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Forget that John MacArthur claims that you can take the mark of the beast and still be saved … even though the Bible says in Revelation 19:20 that those who will receive:
“the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
Forget that John MacArthur is a Calvinist who believes that God is going to randomly throw people into Hellfire and that we have no free will.
Forget that John MacArthur promotes corrupt modern Bible versions.
And So they preach out of 2 sides of their mouth.
They’ll preach by faith alone but also say that you have to turn from your sins …
1 John 3:4: “whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
So if sin is transgression of the law, and they’re saying you have to turn from sin to be saved, they’re saying, “FOLOW THE LAW” to be saved.
And we’re not disputing that repentance is necessary for salvation.
Jesus said, “Repent ye!”
John the Baptist said, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
In fact, the word “repent” was the first recorded word in Scripture that came out of the mouth of John the Baptist.
Jesus Himself, after he was baptized by John and taken up into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, the first words that came out of his mouth when he began his public ministry was:
“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
But what IS Biblical repentance?
• Now, depending on the Bible Version you’re reading, the NLT, The Non-Living Translation, will add the words “of sins” to “repent”.
NLT, Matthew 3:2, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
God’s Word Translation: “”Turn to God and change the way you think and act, because the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Douay-Rheims: “Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
So we have to ask: WHAT DOES THE WORD, “REPENT” mean? That will define the doctrine.
And the best way to define a Bible word is to use the Bible.
Let scripture define itself by itself.
The King James Bible has a Built-in bible-dictionary.
We can look up every instance of a word and using the surrounding context, we can determine what that word means.
The word “repent” and “repentance” all of its variations, like “repented” or “repenteth” appears 111 times in the Bible.
46 of those instances are in the OT. And of those 46 times, GOD is the one repenting 28 times of the 46 times. And dozen or so times, it’s about God NOT repenting of something that He promised to do.
So the majority is about GOD repentning.
But does God ever sin? Obviously not.
So “repent” doesn’t automatically mean turning from sin.
You have to study the surrounding context to find out what “repent” means in that particular passage.
And in most cases, “repent” simply means to turn or to change the way you think.
• The first time “repent” appears in the Bible is found in the very first Book, of Genesis 6:6:
“And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”
So the first mention of “repent” is in relation to God repenting … not man.
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although thatwas near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
So the first two times it appears in the Bible, “repent” has to do with a CHANGE OF MIND.
[Exodus 32:14: “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”]
Psalm 110:4: “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
AGAIN REPENT = GOD NOT CHANGING HIS MIND
We see that the word “repent” is not automatically associated with sin.
For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
And you can do this all day …
But 3 verses in the NT that really define “repent” are:
Hebrews 6:1: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”.
20 [And] how I kept back nothing that was profitable [unto you], but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus
In Acts 19:4, Paul tells us plainly what John the Baptist meant when he said “repent ye”:
“Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
• James 2:17-20, [14-22]
• Matthew 7:21-23
But what is the “will” of Jesus Father?
John 6:40: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day”.
John 6:29: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
ACTS 16:28-31 & ACTS 8:35-37
If we try to do it ourselves, it’s a slap in the face of the Son of God.
It’s rejecting His sacrifice. It’s the opposite of salvation
It’s like saying that His sacrifice, everything that He went through, wasn’t enough!
That we have to add to His finished work of grace and save ourselves!
The REPENT OF SINS HERESY comes down to one thing:
It’s a self-centered, narcissistic works-based Gospel that says you have to save yourself – by repenting of your sins and doing good works – rather than asking Jesus to take your sins upon Himself!