Roman Catholic Heresy On Repentance

By David J. Stewart | August 2014

Mark 1:15, “ And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

       The Roman Catholic understanding of repentance is unbiblical. Roman Catholics corrupt the meaning of repent to mean a change of lifestyle. As do all false prophets, the following description of repentance starts off with the correct meaning of “a change of mind,” and then subtly perverts the meaning by the end of the paragraph to mean “a change of lifestyle”...

But what does it mean to truly repent? The Greek word for repentance that is used in the Gospel is metanoia, which literally means "to change one's mind." This "change" of "mind" necessarily entails a profound interior conversion in which we firmly turn from worldly darkness, and embrace a new way of life as Christ's disciples. Thus repentance is not merely to know of Christ, nor is it a matter of picking and choosing—with an intellectual arrogance—some aspects of our Lord's teaching while coldly rejecting others; rather, it is a union of mind, heart and soul to the Person of Christ. To repent is to die to Christ, discarding our former way of life in favor of the Way, Truth, and Life that is Christ himself.

SOURCE: A Lenten Reflection On Repentance — Catholic Online

Where in the Bible are we taught that repentance means to “DIE TO CHRIST?” We are saved by trusting Jesus. nothing else. Then as a Christian, God wants us to be crucified with Christ and die to the lusts and desires of the flesh. Please understand that the saved life and the crucified life are separate. If you combine the two, you have a corrupted Gospel, a false plan of salvation. Dr. Jack Hyles does a wonderful job explaining this truth in his awesome MP3 sermon titled, STEPS TO SANCTIFICATION (OR THE ROOT OF ALL HERESY).” We are saved by trusting Jesus, period. Whether or not you turn away from the old lifestyle of sin DOESN'T keep you from being saved. Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 5:15; Ephesians 2:8-9). You can be saved by simply believing on Jesus Christ, that He died for your sins on the cross, was buried and raised-up from the dead three days later (1st Corinthians 15:1-4).

What Is Genuine Biblical Repentance?

Most churches today have adopted a Roman Catholic interpretation of repentance, which includes penance, forsaking sinful living and changing one's ways to be saved. The Bible teaches something VERY different. Biblical repentance unto life simply means “a change of mind,” that is, a change of mind about whatever was hindering you from coming to the Lord to be saved. John 3:20 says that sin hinders people from coming to the light (Jesus, John 8:12) to be saved, because people living in sin don't want to be reproved and told they are wrong. When a man repents, he acknowledges that he is a guilty sinner in the eyes of a holy God, and so now he comes to Christ by faith to be saved.

Repentance simply means that you acknowledge your sinnership and thus need for Christ to save you. Romans 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” We are saved by believing, not by repenting, but we wouldn't believe if we didn't repent. This is why the words “believe” and “believed” appear 85 times in the Gospel of John, but the word “repent” is never mentioned even once. A person MUST repent to be saved, but repentance does NOT mean changing your sinful ways and turning over a new leaf for God. I am worried about the salvation of umpteen Independent Baptists in our churches today, who have told me that they don't think believing the Gospel is enough to be saved. They have been caught-up into the heresy of Roman Catholicism.

One Baptist man who teaches in a local Bible college said to me a few months ago, “I think there needs to be a little bit more.” That is, he believes it is NOT enough to trust upon Christ's death on the cross for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection three days later to save us. This is the Gospel (good news) according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. The foolish guy also believes that you must purpose in your heart to stop living in a lifestyle of sin. The guy needs to get saved. My friend, there is a fine line between Christianity and the religion of the cults. Grace is not earned, it is offered!

Pastor Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951) correctly understood repentance . . .

“Repentance is the very opposite of meritorious experience. It is the confession that one is utterly without merit, and if he is ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'who gave himself a ransom for all.' Here is firm footing for the soul who realizes that all self-effort is but sinking sand. Christ alone is the Rock of our salvation.”

SOURCE: Harry A. Ironside; Except Ye Repent, pg. 36)

Clearly, Ironside taught a Free Grace view of the Gospel. Harry A. Ironside correctly recognized repentance as the confession that “one is utterly without merit” and that if one is “ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Salvation is without works of self-righteousness. Romans 4:5 plainly teaches that a man's faith is COUNTED for righteousness, i.e., the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to one's heavenly record by faith. 

“Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word.”

SOURCE: Except Ye Repent, by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3

All that God requires for salvation is that we receive Christ's death, burial and resurrection from the dead three days later as full-payment for our sins. Concerning salvation, “repentance” does NOT mean to cease from sinful bad habits, nor turn over a new leaf, nor make a full surrender to Christ, nor to forsake the world. A person may do all of these things and yet never have believe the Gospel at all. The Gospel is Good News to simply be believed, and not conditions to be achieved.


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