Do you have to repent to receive Jesus?

I have often heard TV preachers proclaim you must repent, and then you can receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. They would say you must turn from your sinful ways, and God will forgive you. Did Jesus instruct those that heard him speak, to first stop sinning and then they would be right with God? “ And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Mathew 9:10-13. Is this passage indicating that the righteous are already accepted by God, and Jesus has come to minister only to those in sin? Romans 3: 9-11 has this to say, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” And in the book of Isaiah it is written, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6. Jesus was fully aware that no man is righteouse in God’s holy eyes. To emphasize this point again Paul writes, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23. The so called righteous of Jesus day were the Pharisees. They were sure of their right standing with God, because of the meticulous way they attempted to keep the law of Moses. It is this attitude of self righteousness that Jesus was speaking of, when he told those around him they needed to repent. “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

God does indeed want us to repent of all our sins, but it is in no way a pre-requisite to receiving Jesus into our life. God knows that all forms of sin are harmful, but God invites us into his family joyfully, with open arms, with hugs and kisses, just as the the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15 illustrates. There are plenty of modern day Pharisees, who want to point out your sins and faults, and proclaim you have to get right with God, before he will forgive you. This is most certainly putting the cart before the horse. God wants you to come to him with a humble heart. He wants to begin to lavish upon you all his goodness, love and blessings. You are righteous and holy in His eyes the minute you receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Romans 3: 21-22 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…” Both the Old Testament law and prophets, point toward a time when man is made right in God’s eyes through a personal Savior, who would die in their place. Jesus was the manifestation of the Old Covenant. No amount of good living, or good deeds, or right thinking will put you right with God. Unholy man without God’s Spirit is incapable of pleasing God. But we receive God’s Holy Spirit when we repent of our rebellion against His one and only plan of salvation, which is his Son Jesus. It is only then that we can begin to truly repent of all the other sins in our life, by first beginning to see His love for us all. John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

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  1. Lana

    Amen! I certainly had not repented the day I turned to Jesus and was saved. He is merciful and guides us in sanctification He puts a loathing of sin into our hearts so we repent of it all.

    • Hi Lana, Thank you for taking time to comment. God’s goodness certainly is what leads us to repent.

  2. Maia Armstrong

    Can I point out something from your presentation? If we are told to “repent from our sins”, and “turn to Christ”, then how can someone who claims to be a true servant of the light continue to live in their sin, even if they “get saved”? Doesn’t that technically mean we have to repent anyway upon being saved? We can’t proclaim to be Christ’s children, and act like slaves to sin. Yes, even saved Christians will sin, but they will not delight in it. I have sinned myself from time to time! I am not out of the game of repentance just because I pray and encourage others 24/7. I have my own faults, and so do you.
    One critique I have for the Christian community is how we preach sin and Hell to unbelievers when sharing the Gospel. Whenever we get so caught up in “saving our neighbors”, I have seen many Christians who immediately use the lake of fire as a tool to instill fear among non-Christians who have little to no knowledge of Scripture or Jesus. Think of it this way. When you were a child, you were under your mother’s roof, and had a follow a moral code of conduct and behavior. Would it be loving to tell your second grade child to be on their best behavior and threaten them by saying that they would be grounded if they mess up? No! That defeats the whole purpose of “following the rules”, and disciplining your children in the ways ⠷ righteousness. It’s the same thing with Hell and salvation. Would it be loving for anyoo who claims to be a Christian to evangelize to a group of nonbelievers through just fire and brimstone sermons? No! I highly admire that we are willing to seek the truth. I am glad that we are willing and unafraid to preach the truth, even the most dark and scary parts. But, there needs to be a balance. How can you preach sin and Hell while neglecting the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross so that we may be set free from sin? Isn’t that what the Gospel is? Freedom FROM Hell? Freedom from the fear of Hell and evil!?
    I don’t know if I mentioned this yet, but I am the Vice President of a Christian club at the high school I currently attend, which means I plan and give out most of the presentations and sermons every week. I think this same critique I gave could be applied for myself as well, especially in the ways I teach the concept of sin, evil, and the existence of Satan. While I do strive to communicate my messages in a loving and passionate ways that glorifies God, I understand that as a human being, I acknowledge that I will always have areas which I will need to develop and work on in ⠍⠝ own life.
    I pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us and transform us into agents of the eternal light of Christ!

    • Hi Maia, Thank you for your great and well thought out points. Romans 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? I truly believe many Christians are not aware of how good and generous God is to us, each and every day. Anywhere in the Bible, Old or New Testament, I read of a blessing. I claim it for myself. I know Jesus suffered and died so I could be found worthy to receive it, This revelation is what has led me to repent.

      • Maia Armstrong

        Leon, thank you so much for sharing your testimony. It is so inspiring to see people like you who are using the spirit of encouragement to inspire and challenge believers in their walk with Jesus. In the same way you continue to give hope through sharing God’s everlasting love, I remain committed to emulating that love by encouraging those who are downtrodden, pray for the welfare of others, to encourage those in their fight for the light, and to use my uplifting and insightful words, as well as Scripture, to help others (especially our teenagers) resist and stand firm against the wiles of Satan. And this is how I came (and continue to stay in) the light of Christ!

      • Hi Maia, It is very encouraging to see someone your age so involved in spreading the Good News!

  3. Maia Armstrong

    That’s right, Lee, and thank you! WE ARE COMING AFTER YOU, SATAN!!! JESUS ALL THE WAY!!

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