The Greatest Story Ever Told About
The Greatest Man That Ever Lived
The very first message Jesus preached was "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near".  So
did the disciples and so did John the Baptist.  Obviously we need to repent.   Repent means to
change or think differently.  The question is:  What are we to repent from?

Matthew 3:1
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying "Repent, for
the kingdom of heaven in near"

Matthew 4:17
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near"

Mark 6:7-12
Calling the twelve to him he sent them out two by two....they went out and preached that people
should repent.

John the Baptist was the first one to preach that we should repent.  The first message Jesus
preached was that as well.  He then instructed his disciples to go out and preach the same
message.  Obviously, this is an important message.   Repent means to change, or to think

Acts 2:37-39
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles,
"Brothers, what shall we do?"  Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the
name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. "

On the day of Pentecost, when Peter preached about Jesus many people were touched by his
preaching and wanted to turn to God.  Peter told them what they needed to do....repent and be
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 17:30
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to

Luke 15:7
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

God and all of heaven are overjoyed when someone turns to God and accepts Jesus as their
Saviour.   God has asked all peoples to repent, John the Baptist preached that we need to
repent, Jesus preached it, he told his disciples to preach it, and Peter preached it on the day of
Pentecost.  Obviously, we need to repent.  However, the question is:  What are we to repent
from?  Repent means to change or think differently.  So what are we to change or think
differently about?

If you ask a Christian and even many pastors this question, most of them will say we are to
repent of our sin.  It seems the most obvious answer so that is why it is taught.  I was taught that
as well when I first became a Christian, and for many years I really tried to do that.  But
repenting from sin is very difficult.  The problem is that no matter how hard I tried, I simply
could not.  Oh sure I could repent of some of the more obvious of my sins, but what about the
rest?   For many years I lived a very frustrating life.  Trying so hard to turn from all my sins so I
could please God.   Feeling guilty and ashamed and afraid to face God when I missed the mark.  
Things would go okay for awhile and I thought I was making progress, then I would lose it and
have to start all over again .  I would go to church and at the end of the sermon I would go up
front, kneel down and cry out to God with the rest of them.  I never felt good enough.  And it
didn't make it better to see some Christians who seemed to "have it all together".  No matter
how hard I tried, it just wasn't working.  One day I was so depressed over this that I lay in bed all
day.  I was disgusted with my life.  I was trying to please God with my life and I felt like I was
just spinning my wheels.  So I said to God; "God, I can't do this.  No matter how much I try, it's
just not working.  Why would you ask me to repent of my sins when you know I can't do it."  
Then that quiet still voice spoke to my heart and said "I never asked you to repent of your
sins."   What, I was sure that was the devil talking, not God.  But I heard it again, and going back
and forth with God, that's what he was telling me.  So I got out of bed, got my Strong's
Concordance and looked up every scripture with the word repent, repentant, repenting, etc.  
And guess what?   God was right.  Nowhere could I find a scripture that said I was supposed to
repent of my sins.  Nowhere.   Well, that was a big relief.  A real big relief.  Yes, that would make
things easier.

But, this now posed another problem.  If we are not to repent of our sins, then what are we to
repent of? Obviously it's something.  What is it?  I tried to figure this out and prayed about it,
and then I found the answer.  It was in one of the scriptures I found when I looked them all up.   
In Hebrews Chapter 6, Paul tells us about the elementary teachings of Christ.  One of those is
"repentance from dead works".  What is dead works?  It is not sin.  It is works that are dead.  
What could dead works then be?

If we look at who John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul were preaching repentance to we can
understand this better.  They were preaching to the Jews that were at that time living under the
Law of Moses.  This Law was enforced by the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the time who
would constantly tell the people they were not doing this or that according to the Law.  Since
the time of Moses the Jews tried to keep the Law which had many rules and regulations.  Jesus
had many run-ins with the Pharisees and rebuked them many times instead telling the people
that now there was a new way of salvation, and that was through the sacrifice that Jesus would
provide when he died on the cross.  Therefore, he was asking the people to believe in him.  
When Jesus died on the cross, he fulfilled the Law.  Now all one had to do is believe in Jesus.  
Up till now what the people did was "dead works".  They were trying so hard to keep the Law
and please God with their life.  But they were constantly failing for no one could keep the Law,
not even the Pharisees.  So "dead works" are anything that we do to try to impress God with our
self attained righteousness.  This is what Jesus told them to think differently about.  Stop trying
to attain your own righteousness with your "good works" because you never will.  I will provide
it for you.   The Bible says that Jesus was the only one that lived a sinless life, that is why he
was the perfect sacrifice, the righteous for the unrighteous.  The sinless for the sinner.  So now
all we have to do is believe in what he did for us instead of trying to attain our own
righteousness which we can never do.  And if we could....we wouldn't need a saviour would we,
we could attain righteousness on our own.  Jesus told the Jews, Pharisees, and us today, that
we need to think differently or repent of trying to do it on our own because we will not be able
to.  That's why he did it for us, he knew we couldn't do it.

Believing that we are to repent of our sins produces two types of results.   Arrogance and guilt.  
There are those that are in denial and think they have overcome their desire to sin, and
therefore they are now in a higher standing with God and sometimes they even look down upon
those that are still struggling with sin.   Those who are more honest with themselves feel real
guilty every time they sin and this keeps them from having a close relationship with God.  Both
are just as bad.

Once we know who we are neither of these will happen.  Once we realize that we will sin for the
rest of our lives we can relax and let the Holy Spirit do his work in us. Little by little, as we can
respond to it, he will lead us out of more and more sinful things.  But we should never let this
keep us from God.  As the Bible says in Romans 8:1  
Therefore, there is now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me
free from the law of sin and death...
  When we are forgiven, all our past, present, and future sins
are forgiven.  We don't have to keep confessing our sins to God because they were all taken
care of the day we accepted Jesus as our Saviour.  God knows we will sin for the rest of our
lives, so why be a hypocrite, you can't fool God.  

The other thing this type of teaching produces is that you are sometimes saved and sometimes
not.  Sometimes you are "backslidden" and sometimes you are in good standing with God.  All
of this is untrue because we are either saved or lost.  We are saved as long as we believe in
Jesus as our Saviour.  It's not that we are saved when we don't sin and not saved when we are
"backslidden" or in sin.  

I used to have a magnetic cross stuck to the dashboard of my car that said Get Right With God.  
After I realized what I am telling you here, I scratched out the Right and wrote in Real.  Then it
said Get Real With God.  And that's what I still do.  I talk to God about anything and everything,
including some of my sinful desires.  Why shouldn't I you think he doesn't know what I am
thinking?   Why should I try to hide it?  It's much better to talk about it, and if I can talk to a good
friend about it, I can certainly talk to God about it.  In fact talking to God is better because he can
give me the best advice.  

Since I learned this, I have had the best relationship with God that I have ever had.  He has
never made me feel guilty or ashamed.  I have talked to God about some real hardcore stuff,
and we can talk about it just like we can talk about anything else.  The Holy Spirit still convicts
me of sin, and most of the time I respond, but he never makes me feel bad about it either.  God
doesn't do things that way.  Only men do.

So if you are struggling with these issues, relax, be honest and open with God, and talk to Him
about it.  You will see what an understanding friend He will be.  But Never, Never, Never let the
devil convince you to stay away from God because of it.
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