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What Does Repent Mean? Can A Person Be Saved If They Didn’t Repent?

REPENT and Believe……. Old Testament Meaning vs New Testament: It Matters

Do you need to repent to be saved?

Today we are talking about two kinds of repenting that we see in the bible. One is outward, and the other inward.

The new testament meaning of ‘repent’ is very different than the one used in the old testament. One is about turning from behavior, the other is about turning from a belief system. Here’s what you need to know.

I believe there is a misunderstanding of “biblical” repentance and its use in the New Testament. Many people describe NT repentance (metanoeo) as being the same as Old Testament repentance (shuwb). To them repent has one meaning—Turn back and DON’T SIN AGAIN and if you struggle with a particular sin they assume you have not turned back and are not repenting and thus are not saved. But is this really true?

Repent Meaning

Repent as Defined in Strongs Concordance

Yes, to a degree repenting includes a “turning” away from our sinful desires, however, it is not a promise we make to “be perfect at the law” for our salvation. If new the testament meaning of repent only meant stop breaking the law to be saved then wouldn’t that be a works-based salvation and wouldn’t it totally undermine verses like “you are saved by faith” or “apart from the law” and “apart from works” you are saved?

If you look through the Gospels we discover the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees and the BEST law keepers of them all were being told to REPENT and BELIEVE.

QUESTION: In the bible, why would anyone tell the most religious law-keeping people on planet earth (the Jews) to repent?

ANSWER: Because “repent” did not mean performing better and stop breaking the law. This was an inward repentance. Turning from the inward sin of unbelief. 

So then, what did repent mean in the new testament? It meant to think differently. To reconsider. In other words a turning and a changing of mind about their belief system. They were denying the deity of Christ and His saving ability and instead of looking to the LAW (rule-keeping) to save them. One could say this message was the same as “CHANGE your mind and think differently (repent) about the idea that keeping the law saves you and BELIEVE that only Jesus can do it”.

Old Testament repentance (shuwb)


NT repentance (metanoeo)


“Repent and Believe”. There was a sin alright, but it was the sin of disbelief being addressed, hence they were being called to repent (change their mind about their belief system of what saves them), and believe (that Jesus is the only way to the Father).

The unpardonable sin and the only one where we discover that there is no forgiveness.  The unpardonable sin is ‘unbelief’. 

Side Note: We DO believe Christians should, and are called to turn from sin. This is in no way an endorsement for even the smallest of sins.  However, we hold strong that outward repentance saves no one. It is only inward repentance that can save us. I find it sad that Christians must give these kinds of disclosures to ward off angry people that don’t have much appreciation for the grace message, and only see it as ‘cheap grace’. But nonetheless, the grace message shall prevail.

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.


  • Samuel Seaton Posted November 30, 2022 11:10 am

    Thank you for emphasizing the true gospel of Jesus Christ! The only victory I ever have over sin is when I revert back to the truth that Jesus IS and DID everything concerning my salvation! To be honest, I continually struggle with my “repentance/behavior/works” that I fail at and makes me feel condemned. I have been a Christian/Believer for a long time and still get sucked into that legalistic mentality. I am grateful for the truth you are presenting and it is very encouraging to my walk!

    • Mike C Posted November 30, 2022 12:03 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the kind words

    • Savannah Posted February 19, 2023 11:50 pm

      I have also struggled as a believer who can fall into a legalistic mentality. This message is great! It’s also nice to know I’m not alone in my struggle of feeling condemned. Thank you so much and God bless!

  • Andy Posted September 3, 2023 2:45 am

    Hi Mike, first I want to say I have been tormented for years about my salvation rather or not if I’m a fake Christian or a sinner who can’t do anything right to save himself but confused about how salvation really applies to a person to be saved. I hate the sins that I know are sin that I sin again God and have begged and prayed for God to help me stop commiting those same sins to the point of self harm by beating myself with my fist and belts and I’ve even shot myself with a 12 gauge shotgun in hopes I would prove to God I don’t want to live that life anymore I want a true relationship with God. But I’ve been spiritually wounded by pastor’s and other believers saying I’m playing church or that I don’t really have faith in Christ Jesus or God to deliver me from my sins and addictions and I read verses like Hebrews 10:26-29 and others verses that pertains the same. And what about the verses that say if we are not living by the spirit for God is spirit then we are none of His. I’ve been praying for clarity and trying to understand God’s word but then I read verses about the double minded person who is toasted around with every kind of doctrine unstable in all his ways. In revelation it says even some of the elite in the church will even be deceived by satan. Is there any hope for any of us? There’s so many denomination and doctrines and beliefs everyone claims that they are teaching the true doctrine and gospel. What if we ignored all of the Bible and only focus on the part that says believe on Jesus Christ and have enteral life will we be saved and be right with God? I believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God and all that He done was and is for our salvation and that there is no other way to have forgiveness of sins. I do and try to do my best not to do as I once did but I find myself doing the very thing I wish not to do and I hate myself for doing what I asked God to help me not to do. I know it’s not God’s fault for the sin I do it’s my choice to give in to my temptation, but will I continue in my sin until death and then be cast into the lake of fire or will I be under God’s forgiven Grace because I believed in Jesus Christ as my salvation for my sins that I knowingly or not knowingly committed and knowingly I mean the one’s I struggled with that I allowed to control me and I didn’t control them like Romans 6:12 says? Please pray for and with me for God to give me and others who struggles with these issues. And if God has given you a word for us please share. God bless everyone and may His truth be known. Amen

    • Mike C Posted September 3, 2023 9:32 am

      First of all, let me encourage you to stay far away from anyone who is instructing you to the point where you think it makes sense to harm yourself to prove something to God. God is NOT asking you to do that. He harm himself so you would not have to. By IS stripes we have been healed.

      Our salvation is by faith alone. Not by how awesome we are at avoiding sin. I’ve never met an atheist, who was worried about sin. Just based on your message, it is highly unlikely that you are an unbeliever.

      Let’s chat about the verse you posted. I really believe you are horribly missing the contact and probably because of some terrible teacher:

      Hebrews 10:26-29 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

      Who is the audience? They are JEWS

      I challenge you to read the first 10 chapters, and find even one single mention of OUTWARD sin.

      What you will discover as that this letter is writing Jewish people with heard the good news. They tasted it. But they have an actually believed. The first 10 chapters is only talking about a specific kind of sin. Inward sin. The sin of unbelief.

      So the writer is saying, if we deliberately keep on unbelieving, after receiving the knowledge of what Jesus did for us on the cross, and not believing that Jesus, sacrificing his life was the propitiation for our sins, then no sacrifice remains. In other words, if you reject the living sacrifice, and instead you run to the temple, sacrificing bulls and goats, it’s not going to lead to salvation. And his point is if you got severe punishment when you ignored the law of Moses (the OLD covenant), which is wildly minuscule compared to Jesus (the NEW covenant) how much worse will it be if you ignore what Jesus did?

      I do a full study on Hebrews. I think it would be very helpful to your competence, if you would watch the series. Here is a link

      [Romans 6:12] Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

      The apostle Paul is not saying that Christians don’t make bad decisions. This versus encouraging us to recognize that the source of sin it’s not you. The enemy is not flesh and bones. The source is a real external dark power. You’re not YOURSELF. Pay very close to how the verse reads. Specifically the word ITS. He’s not telling you not to obey your desires. You have a new heart with new desires. He’s asking you not to obey ITS desires. This is referring to the evil one who is always trying to deceive you. But you are not the enemy. You are not evil. Although you may foolishly allowed the deceiver to lead you to do things that your new self with your new heart does not want to do, God is not obsessing over your behavior. Although the evil one would like you to believe that he is. The evil one doesn’t want you to believe that your sins have been fully paid for. Taken away. Remember no more. Because as long as you don’t believe it, you’re never going to sin less. The evil one loves you to doubt yourself, vacation and feel like you need to prove to God that you have a new heart. A new spirit. Slam the door in the evil ones face and stop buying the lies he is selling.

      Lastly, It really does seem that you have been giving a lot of poor teaching and have been left very confused about the gospel. I sincerely believe if you watch this video that I created that really breaks down the entire gospel, it was free from all this garbage that is preventing you from resting in Christ..

      Here is the link

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