"The Elementary Teachings" Series


From Acts that Lead to Death - Returning to Your Creator

By David M Rogers

Published: November 2017

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Messiah and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in Elohim, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And Elohim permitting, we will do so. (Hebrews 6:1-3)

Table of Contents

The Promises of Blessings and Curses

The Biblical Definition of Repentance

The Promise to Those Who Repent (Return to Sender)

The Call to Repentance

Repentance as Taught by Yochanan the Immerser

Repentance as Taught by Yahusha Messiah

Repentance as Taught by the Apostles

Is Confession of Sin the Same as Repentance?


It is instructive to us that the writer to the Hebrews refers to repentance from acts that lead to death as one of the elementary teachings about Messiah.  This thing called repentance is a foundation for us.  It is something that everyone should understand, even those brand new to faith in Messiah.  If we properly understand this elementary concept of repentance, then we can build an accurate set of teachings about our walk of faith upon it.

But there's the rub.  A misunderstand and failure to comprehend the importance of repentance has led many in the "faith community" to map out a wrong walk which has misled and deceived many.  The Christian church by and large has NOT had a proper, biblical understanding of the foundational concept of repentance.  As such, many of the doctrines found in most churches are flawed and lead many astray from a true, biblical walk of faith.

The passage in Hebrews 5 and 6 is stated in full:

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.  In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of Elohim's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 

Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Messiah and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in Elohim, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And Elohim permitting, we will do so. (Hebrews 5:11-6:3)

Here, a fundamental element of repentance is alluded to.  Contrary to the teachings of many, repentance is not just a change of mind.  It is a necessary change of action on the part of followers of Messiah.  We will see this as it is developed in Scripture.

There are many question we endeavor to answer as we study this topic of repentance.  What is repentance?  Is repentance a gift from Abba or is it solely a work on our part?  What does it mean to confess our sins?  Is repentance a one time event?  How do we recognize someone who has truly repented?

The Promises of Blessings and Curses

The need for repentance is stipulated upon a core understanding of what the Creator demands of humans to be restored to proper relationship with Him.  When setting the parameters for a functional covenant relationship between him and his people Israel, Yahuwah established the standards for that fellowship.

3 "'If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands,
4 I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit.
5 Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.
6 "'I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove savage beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.
7 You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you.
8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.
9 "'I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you.
10 You will still be eating last year's harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.
11 I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you.
12 I will walk among you and be your Elohim, and you will be my people.
13 I am Yahuwah your Elohim, who brought you out of Mitzrayim so that you would no longer be slaves to the Mitzrites; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 26:3-13)

Being in favor with Yahuwah is not random.  You cannot simply "believe" in Jesus and expect to walk in favor with Elohim.  He has revealed for us the circumstances under which his blessings will fill our lives.  The Almighty promises blessings and well being to those who walk in obedience to his decrees and commands.  Those who cling to his ways, obey his instructions and listen to his voice will walk in favor with him and enjoy all the positives which Yahuwah grants to his people.

But for those who reject his commands, curses and bad things accompany them.  Yahuwah will make sure of it!  He is always faithful.  He will do what he said he will do.  Just as He will reward obedience and right living, He will also punish and condemn disobedience, transgression, rebellion and wrong living.

"'But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands,
15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant,
16 then I will do this to you: I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it.
17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
18 "'If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over.
19 I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze.
20 Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit.
21 "'If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve.
22 I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted.
23 "'If in spite of these things you do not accept my correction but continue to be hostile toward me,
24 I myself will be hostile toward you and will afflict you for your sins seven times over.
25 And I will bring the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant. When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you, and you will be given into enemy hands.
26 When I cut off your supply of bread, ten women will be able to bake your bread in one oven, and they will dole out the bread by weight. You will eat, but you will not be satisfied.
27 "'If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me,
28 then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over.
29 You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters.
30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you.
31 I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the pleasing aroma of your offerings.
32 I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.
33 I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 26:14-33)

These negatives are the curses of the Law written about by Paul in his letters.  They are the result of disobedience to Elohim's law.  Many Christian churches erroneously teach that returning to obedience to the Law given by the mouth of Elohim at Sinai is tantamount to rejection of His grace and a falling away from the work of Messiah in his atoning sacrifice.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Elohim wants to bless his people and will do so when they obey his law.  But for those who won't obey, he sends curses.  He is faithful to what he said he will do.

Paul speaks of this faithfulness of Elohim to reward the obedient ones and punish the faithless ones:

Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13)

In other words, He is going to do what he promises to do.  Those who cling to him will enjoy his favor.  Those who are faithless and disown him will reap the consequence of their own choices and find Elohim fulfilling his word against them.

The Biblical Definition of Repentance

The word repentance comes from the Hebrew bWv (shuv).  The BDB says this word means to turn back, return.  The HALOT tells us this word means to turn around, repent; hif. (causative) stem - to bring back, refresh, refute, to be changed . And the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) gives us this:  The basic meaning of shûb "to (re)turn" implying physical motion or movement appears over 270 times. A few times God is the subject, "At the appointed time I will return to you (Sarah)," (Gen 18:14). Most often the subject is a person: "I (Abraham) and the lad (Isaac) will go yonder and worship, and return to you" (Gen 22:5). In the Hiphil stem form there are eighty-seven occurrences of shûb in the sense of "bring back, carry back."

Additionally, TWOT explains: Another important use of shûb in the Qal, and theologically the most crucial, is in passages dealing with the covenant community's return to God (in the sense of repentance), or turning away from evil (in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin), or turning away from God (in the sense of becoming apostate). In such contexts shûb in the Qal is used 129 times. By contrast, in the Hiphil shûb is used only eleven times when discussing the divine-human relationship. "turn back (Qal imperative) and 'let yourself be turned from your idols' (Hiphil) " (Ezek 14:6).

So the Hebraic concept of repentance is simply to return to Elohim's ways.  It means to go back to  obedience.  By forsaking the path that we have been on and returning to Him, Elohim will recieve us again.

If you are in a Messianic or Hebrew Roots environment, you will often hear the term teshuvah meaning repentance.  But in a strictly biblical usage, teshuvah is not used that way. Just to let you know, the Hebrew hb'vut. (teshuvah) means to answer, (re-)turn. Appears eight times, five times in reference to the spring as the "turn" of the year (2Sam 11:l; 1Kings 20:22, 26; 1Chr 20:1 ; 2Chr 36:10); once "return" to a place (1Sam 7:17), and twice in the sense of "answer, retort" (Job 21:34; Job 34:36). (TWOT Lexicon).  Here is an example:

Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Yisrael and said, "Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring (lit. “at the turning of the year”) the king of Aram will attack you again." (1 Kings 20:22)

Teshuvah is not used in the Tanach for repentanceShuv is the word for repent.  Yet, it is okay to refer to teshuvah as repentance.  I'm just showing you its biblical usage.

The Promise to Those Who Repent (Return to Sender)

The love of our Maker compels him to reach out to us with terms of reconciliation.  He desires that - although banished from his presence - we might still change our ways and turn back to him.  His promise is to receive those who will turn away from their disobediences and cling to his ways.  At the time he layed out the two choices and their outcomes, Yahuwah gives hope to those who are receiving the curses on account of their disobediences:

You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers' sins they will waste away.  You will perish among the nations; the land of your enemies will devour you. Those of you who are left will waste away in the lands of their enemies because of their sins; also because of their fathers' sins they will waste away. 

"'But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers-- their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies-- then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Ya'acov and my covenant with Yitzchak and my covenant with Avraham, and I will remember the land. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 26:38-42)

Yahuwah is the "sender" of the rebellious sons of Israel into exile around the world.  But his promise to those of them who repent and return to Him is to restore them to covenant relationship with him.

True repentance reaches down deep.  It requires a wholesale change in our life.  We must transform the choices we make and the actions we take.

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever Yahuwah your Elohim disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return (Heb. shuv) to Yahuwah your Elohim and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then Yahuwah your Elohim will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.  Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there Yahuwah your Elohim will gather you and bring you back.  (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 30:1-4)

When the change of heart occurs in us and we decide to abandon our own control over our lives and give Him control, He will keep his promise to return us to our inheritance so that we can be his people again.

Furthermore, he will bless his people more abundantly in the land he promised the patriarchs.

He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.  Yahuwah your Elohim will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.  Yahuwah your Elohim will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you.  You will again obey Yahuwah and follow all his commands I am giving you today. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 30:5-8)

The end result of repentance is that we obey all his commands. No true repentance happens without the result being full scale obedience to his commands.  For those who think they can "confess" their sins and be "in Jesus" but not obey his commands, they are deceived and don't truly know Elohim.

The book of Deuteronomy goes on to tell us more about the prosperity of those who repent:

Then Yahuwah your Elohim will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. Yahuwah will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, if you obey Yahuwah your Elohim and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to Yahuwah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. (Devarim [Deuteronomy] 30:9-10)

The Christian view that just accepting Jesus into your heart will gain you all the blessings of God just doesn't cut it.  It doesn't ring true with the plain teachings of Scripture and the words that the Almighty himself spoke.  The death of Messiah provides an atonement for all who will repent and return to Elohim.  But the fruit of true repentance is a changed life which is featured by obedience to all the laws, commands, decrees and judgments as given to and through Moses.

The Call to Repentance

The promise to those who repent, as found in the Torah, is reinforced by the words of the prophets.  All the prophets called Israel to repent of their rebellious ways in forsaking the Law of Elohim and to return to right living as expressed through obedience to His Word.  At the dedication of the Temple, Elohim responds to Solomon's prayers and makes a promise of restoration to those who repent.

When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.  (2 Chronicles 7:13-15)

The pleading of Elohim to return to him is found all over the Scriptures and to every generation.  This is the very heart of the Everlasting Gospel, which is the good news that the Almighty wants us to enjoy the fullness of life through proper relationship with him.  That relationship begins when man becomes aware of his separation from Yahuwah and the reasons for it, and then repents of his lifestyle choices and returns  to submission and obedience to Elohim's commandments.

Isaiah the prophet describes a generation of people who repent of their wrong doing and return to Yah.  These people will prosper in the inheritance Elohim gives to those who are of the faith of Abraham.

From the west, men will fear the name of Yahuwah, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of Yahuwah drives along. "The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Ya'acov who repent of their sins," declares Yahuwah. (Yeshayahu [Isaiah] 59:19-20)

The theme of repentance is always featured when the prophets tell of the future blessings Yah brings to his people.  It's only on the condition of repentance and return that Israel can experience His favor.

Jeremiah also brought the good news predicated upon repentance.

Therefore this is what Yahuwah says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you," declares Yahuwah. (Yirmeyah [Jeremiah] 15:19-20)

Restoration, blessing and favor never comes to a people who are steadfast in their rebellion.  The true biblical message of grace teaches us that since Elohim is consistant, fair and righteous in his dealings with mankind, people cannot and will not experience favor just because of grace.  The grace, or favor, of Elohim comes to those who return to him in repentance.  And that manifests in obedience to El's commands.

Ezekiel preached repentance.  But why should this surprise us?  The love of Elohim is communicated through the call to repentance so that mankind can set himself in a position of receiving the promises of Yahuwah.

Therefore this is what Yahuwah says: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter worthy, not worthless, words, you will be my spokesman. Let this people turn to you, but you must not turn to them. I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you," declares Yahuwah. (Yirmeyah [Ezekiel] 18:30-32)

The Christian theologians, pastors and teachers have done a great disservice to the body of Messiah when they don't emphasize the importance of from-the-heart change of mind and actions, which is the essence of repentance.  The prophets make it clear that humans must align themselves with the will of Elohim in order to receive the blessings and prosperity of Elohim.

Repentance as Taught by Yochanan the Immerser

In the New Testament, the message of repentance is the same as we see in the Law and in the Prophets.  The message of Scripture from the very beginning is that man has transgressed the instruction of Elohim and has thus fallen out of fellowship with his Creator.  For restoration to occur, man must repent of his rebellion and return to obedience.

John the Baptist (Yochanan the Immerser), whom Yahusha Messiah described as the greatest of all the prophets, preached the message of repentance, just as had all the prophets before him:

In those days Yochanan the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Yehudah and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Yeshayahu: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for Yahuwah, make straight paths for him.'" Yochanan's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:1-4)

The everlasting gospel is simplified by Yochanan in the short phrase, "repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."  Repentance is a requirement for entering into the kingdom.  The wicked and sinful cannot take part in Elohim's righteous government.  A wholesale transformation is necessary for anyone to participate in it.

John’s message and its effect on people is further explained in the verses that follow:

People went out to him from Yerushalayim and all Yehudah and the whole region of the Yarden. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Yarden River. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3:5-8)

The people who heard Yochanan's message were convicted of their wrongdoing and so confessed their sins.  The baptism or immersing was the response, as stipulated in Torah, of a cleansing act, symbolic of the change from a dirty, sinful person to one who walks in cleanness and integrity.  The result of this change that comes from repentance is the fruit of ones actions.  By their fruit you will know them.

The English word repentance is translated from the Greek meta,noia (meta-noi-a), which may be translated repentance, turning about, conversion; (BDG).  The Friberg Lexicon tell us that our word takes on the meaning of strictly later knowledge, subsequent correction;  religiously and morally, as a change of mind leading to change of behavior repentance, conversion, turning about (MT 3.8; 2C 7.10).

Paul explains the Gospel by first explaining that "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23).  Transgression of Elohim’s law requires a payment.  That payment is death.  Thus, Elohim requires everyone who sins to pay the penalty with death.

But Elohim in his love for those made in his image devised a way to restore the fallen man.  The sacrifice of animals as a substitute for the death of a human was permitted from the beginning.  The price of sin was paid by the death of the innocent animal.  This sacrifice was acceptable to restore fellowship with the Creator.  And this death also foreshadowed the death of Yeshua, whose death on the tree was a permanent solution to the sin problem for those repenting.

Now true repentance is distinct from a false, pretended repentance.  Yochanan explains: 

Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Avraham as our father.' For I tell you that out of these stones Elohim can raise up children for Avraham.  The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. Yochanan answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely-- be content with your pay.“ (Luke 3:8-14)

What is the fruit of repentance?  John gives three examples.  These cases are the practical actions of changed people.  Those who repent from the heart and really mean will alter their actions from sinful, selfishly motivated actions to responses rooted in love for others and the rejection of greed and selfish gain.

Yeshua later spoke of this "fruit in keeping with repentance":

By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:16-20)

Just as a tree is recognized by its fruit, so the person's repentance will be tested by the fruit of his life.  Again, Yahusha tells of the fruit of a man's inner heart disposition:

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (Matthew 12:33-35)

The baptism of Yochanan was for those who had confessed their sins and repented.  Again, the baptism represented the cleansing of the confessing individual and the ridding of sin.

Everyone who has this hope in him (of being like Yeshua) purifies himself, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins breaks the law (Torah); in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he 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 Elohim appeared was to destroy the devil's work. (1 John 3:3-8)

Upon confession of sin and repentance comes purification and the forgiveness of sins.  This is followed by a lifestyle of living righteously.  Yochanan's definition of righteousness is simply doing right.  The disciple of Messiah no longer can live any which way he wants, but must walk uprightly before his Redeemer by obeying all the commandments.  He must stop sinning.

Repentance as Taught by Yahusha Messiah

Yahusha taught repentance as an integral element of the characteristic of those entering into the kingdom of heaven.  Following his baptism and temptation in the wilderness and at the beginning of his public ministry, Yahusha began to preach the message of repentance:

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

Entrance into the kingdom of heaven could only be granted to those who first repent.  And what do religious people need to repent of?  Certainly they are a pious bunch!  Yet, even the religious leaders of Yahusha's day needed to repent.  They had basically created their own religious system  They now call that religious system Judaism.  It is not the same as faith walk as dictated by the Law of Elohim.  The leaders of Judaism had formulated a religious system based on the Bible, but without actually following the instructions of the Bible.  They needed to repent of their open rebellion against Yahuwah's commandments.

Following several healings, Yahusha admonished the recipients of the healing to stop sinning.  This is another example of the fruit of repentance.  To the Invalid at the pool of Bethesda Yahusha directed him to repent, which means to stop sinning:

Later Yahusha found him at the temple and said to him, "See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.“ (4th Gospel 5:14)

Repentance in the bibical sense means “Stop Sinning”!  The woman caught in adultery was told the same message:

Yahusha straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"  "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Yahusha declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin (Greek literally, ‘go, for now on no longer commit sin’).“ (4th Gospel 8:10-11)

Yahusha told it to her straight on.  A person who anticipates entrance into right relationship with Elohim MUST stop sinning.  If the person does not stop sinning there is very real doubt that the repentance was genuine.

Is it practical or even possible for any human being to stop sinning?  Of course it is.  Yochanan tells us:

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 Elohim appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of Elohim will continue to sin, because Elohim's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of Elohim.  This is how we know who the children of Elohim are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of Elohim; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:6-10)

Those who have genuinely given their lives to their Maker have a transformation in their being performed by the Holy Spirit.  They have the power over the choices in their lives.  They can literally stop transgressing Elohim's commandments.

Repentance as Taught by the Apostles

Repentance was also preached by the Apostles as an entrance requirement.  Changing one's life choices in rejecting sinful practices and accepting Elohim's way of life is the first step.  Peter preached repentance at Pentecost:

"Therefore let all Yisrael be assured of this: Elohim has made this Yahusha, whom you crucified, both Master and Messiah." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Kepha and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Kepha replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Yahusha Messiah for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:36-38)

Amazingly for some, Peter's message to the crowds was exactly the same as Yochanan the Immerser's and Yahusha's messages.  Repentance is the necessary beginning of a new relationship with the living Elohim.  Forgiveness and restoration cannot happen until the sinner repents.

Peter later spoke the message to the crowds after healing the man crippled from birth.

Repent, then, and turn to Elohim, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from Yahuwah, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you-- even Yahusha. (Acts 3:19-20)

Paul spoke repentance to the philosophers at Athens:

"Therefore since we are Elohim's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone-- an image made by man's design and skill. In the past Elohim overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.“ (Acts 17:29-31)

And again later, Paul was still preaching the gospel of the kingdom just as Yochanan the Immerser had and as Yahusha Messiah had:

First to those in Damascus, then to those in Yerushalayim and in all Yehudah, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to Elohim and prove their repentance by their deeds. (Acts 26:20)

All the disciples of Yahusha preached repentance because this is what all the prophets throughout all time taught.  There is no other way to enter into Father's presence.

Is Confession of Sin the Same as Repentance?

It has been alleged by some Christian groups that repentance is not needed to obtain salvation.  Confession of sin, they say, is all that is required.  They say something like this: Just believe that Jesus died for your sins and confess or admit that you are a sinner.  Then ask Jesus to forgive your sins and to come into your heart.  That's it!

Now that may sound good to many.  And a precursory glance at a couple passages of Scripture may appear to support this notion.  Yochanan, for example, seems to lay out a simple remedy for the guilt of sin:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)

So the word translated confess is from the Greek o`mologe,w  (homologeo).  The BDAG Greek Lexicon provide this about our word:

1.      to commit oneself to do someth. for someone, promise, assure

2.      to share a common view or be of common mind about a matter, agree

3.      to concede that something is factual or true, grant, admit, confess

Taking definition number three, it appears Yochanan is telling believers to admit that in fact, they are sinners.  And this is the totality of finding forgiveness from Elohim.

Even the Torah seems to support confession as the way to forgiveness:

But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers-- their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies-- then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant… (Vayiqra 26:40-42).

It would be easy to read the "confess" part of this message and conclude that conceding that we are sinners is all that's necessary.  But we would miss the point if we didn't dwell of the rest of the passage.  The Law says then that we must pay for our sin.

The payment for sin - that is, the wages of sin - is death.  The individual must die for that sin unless there is a substitution for that penalty.  And surely Elohim has provided a substitution.  The animal sin offering was the temporarty substitution in death for the sin of the person.  Later, Elohim send his only begotten Son to pay the price for the sins of mankind.

But the Law tells us there is more to paying for sin than just the death.  In the here and now, payment must include the restoration of that which was taken with a fifth of its value added to it.  Wrongs done against an individual must be restored according to the value of the thing done wrong.  Leviticus 5 and 6 list out for us what one must "pay" for his sin. Sins of uncleanness, failure to speak up, taking thoughtless oath: Leviticus 5:1-13; sins against Yahuwah’s holy things: Leviticus 5:14-16; sins against a person: Numbers 5:6-8; sins of doing what is forbidden by Yah’s commands: Leviticus 5:17-19; more sins: Leviticus 6.

The repenting part of restoration is that a wrong is being made right.  If you have taken something, you must give it back or its equivalent.  This is a change of behavior.  And you are returning to Elohim by making the wrong right.  Your neighbor is being compensated for his loss.

Nehemiah’s pray of confession is an example of what true confession entails.  Not just admitting an offense, but reversing the behavior of the offender:

Then I said: "Yahuwah, Elohim of heaven, the great and awesome Elohim, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Yisrael. I confess the sins we sons of Yisrael, including myself and my father's house, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Mosheh. "Remember the instruction you gave your servant Mosheh, saying, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.‘ (Nehemiah 1:5-9)

Thus, Nehemiah implies that this confession of sins is accompanied by a return to the Almighty and a return to obeying his commandments.  The is the very definition of repentance.  True, biblical confession includes repentancee and restoration.  Merely "confessing" a wrong does not fix the wrong.  The repenting is what makes right out of wrong.

In Paul, sorrow is the result of the realization of sin - confession if you will.  Paul's prior letter of rebuke stated the Corinthians sins and problems, causing them to sorrow.  And that confession is designed to lead the transgressor to repentance:

Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it-- I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while-- yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as Elohim intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)

It is not sorrow that leads to salvation, but repentance leads to salvation.  Sorrow and confession brings about repentance, which in turn leads to salvation.

What is in the heart of Elohim?  The Almighty is not after making our life miserable.  But is we are a miserable person because of sin, often it takes misery, pain, affliction and sorrow to drive us back to the basics.  We may realize our plight when we experience difficulty and afflication.  This leads to sorrow and confession to Elohim.  Then turning away from that which brought about sorrow and turning to Elohim to love him and obey him results in forgiveness, restoration and salvation.

The sacrifices are to atone for sin.  But Elohim does not delight in sacrifice and offering.  He would rather that we didn't sin at all.  If we would be doing the will of Elohim instead of trying to satisfy our own flesh with all its desires, there would be no need for sacrifice.  The Psalmist puts it this way:

Psalm 40:6-9 - Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require. Then I said, "Here I am, I have come-- it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my Elohim; your law is within my heart." I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as you know, Yahuwah.

Elohim wants our obedience rather than our payment for sin.

"Does Yahuwah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of Yahuwah? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry." (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

At the end of the day, we must pay for our sins because of the effect of sin on our lives.  But it was never Elohim's will that we need a system that remedies the problem of sin.  He would rather have our obedience.

What does Elohim require of us?  Certainly not our sin and guilt offerings.  He wants us to be like him.

With what shall I come before Yahuwah and bow down before the exalted Elohim? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will Yahuwah be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does Yahuwah require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your Elohim. (Micah 6:6-8)


It would be tragic to know the importance of turning back to Yahuwah with all you heart and soul by keeping all his commandments but fail to know what those commandments are through purposeful ignorance.  To love him with the whole heart means we must diligently find out what his word tells us, and then do it.

Repentance is not a one etime event.  Certainly it is the beginning of a new relationship with the Creator.  But it is also required of us everytime we become aware of an area in our thinking or in our life that is wrong before him.  We should be humble enough to repent just as soon as we know we have displeased the Master.

One final exhortation comes through David’s prayer of confession – Psalm 32

Of David. A maskil. Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  2 Blessed is the man whose sin Yahuwah does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.  3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah   5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to Yahuwah"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah 6 Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.  8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.  9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but Yahuwah's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.  11 Rejoice in Yahuwah and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart.

This is the goal of all these things.  To enter into fellowship requires a change of mind and action on our part.  Elohim doesn't need to change.  We do.  He is a holy and righteous Master.  We need to be holy and righteous to enter into his presence.  Repentance is a good thing.  It prepares us to hear the "well done" when we must stand before him in judgment.