I Can’t Repent

You may say “I can’t repent”

What most people mean by “I can’t repent” is: “I can’t ‘repent of sin”

Nowhere in all the New Testament is the commonly used phrase “repent of sin” mentioned

If you are not a Christian, it is OK that you can’t repent of sin. This is because you do not need to repent of sin to be saved. Salvation is by just believing the gospel (see part [1] below)

If you are a Christian, it is OK that you can’t repent of sin. This is because you do not need to repent of sin to be obedient to God. Obedience to God for a Christian is to be obedient to the truth of the gospel (see part [2] below)


Repent means ‘to have a change of mind’

Paul defines the change of mind necessary for salvation: a change of mind towards God (Acts 20:21).

Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 20:21

It is not stated anywhere in the New Testament that the repentance necessary for salvation is a change of mind “from sin”.

Paul preached repentance towards God and faith towards Jesus Christ to be saved.

This simply means to have a change of mind towards God and have faith in what Christ did on the cross.

These two things are the same thing. If you suddenly trust in Christ for your salvation, you have a change of mind towards God when you believe, in that you accept God’s provision for you in Jesus Christ, instead of trusting in your own self righteousness (Philippians 3:8-9)

Scripture declares over and over again that the response that God requires a person to have towards the gospel is simply to believe it (Romans 1:16, 3:22, 3:25, 5:1, 6:17, Galatians 3:26, Ephesians 2:5-8).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

Also, in practical terms, the gospel is an actual statement of truth: Christ died, was buried and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:1-4):

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

When you hear the gospel, the only thing you can do with it is believe it or not. Nothing else.

So, God has determined that salvation/the forgiveness of sins is just through faith in what Christ did on the cross (the gospel).

Such faith IS repentance towards God

So you can say “I can’t repent” and still be saved.


When you believed the gospel, your spirit was baptised into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27, 1 Corinthians 12:13)

As a result, a spiritual union was set up between you and Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17). This is how you came to be ‘in Christ’

Your spirit then died with Christ and was raised with Christ (Galatians 2:20, Colossians 2:12). That is how you were born again

When your spirit died with Christ, but your flesh did not, your spirit effectively died to your flesh

Effectively, your flesh was cut off from your spirit (Colossians 2:11-12, Galatians 2:20, 5:24). This is spiritual circumcision

Since your flesh was cut off from you, it is not you anymore (Romans 6:6, 8:9)

Consequently, any acts of sin done in your flesh are not accredited to your account (Romans 7:17, 20).

Therefore, you are not guilty before God (Romans 8:1) and you stay permanently righteous before Him (Romans 5:1)

As a Christian, you are obedient to God if you obey the truth that you are righteous by faith alone (Galatians 2:16, 3:1; Romans 6:16-18)

That is why for a Christian, the Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness, not sin (John 16:8-11)

So if you are a Christian and you say “I can’t repent”, you can still be obedient to God


It doesn’t matter if you can’t repent of sin

This is because God does not ask you to do that for salvation, or in order for you to be obedient to Him as a Christian

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