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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