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The Biggest Lie Ever Told
By David A. DePra
And the serpent said unto the woman, "You shall not surely die." (Gen 3:4)
This lie of the enemy was spoken BEFORE the sin. God had told Adam and Eve that if they sinned they would die. Satan said, "You will not die." But today, this lie is still being spoken, although it is spoken from this side of the sin. Today, God says, "Because you are born in sin, and have sinned, you ARE dead." But Satan says, "You are not dead."
Jesus said, "Except you repent, you shall likewise perish." But Satan, and those who are blinded by him, say, "Nope. You donít need to repent of anything, except maybe of thinking too little of yourself. And you wonít die. God loves you too much. So be the best you can be. Have your best life now. Just adopt a philosophy centered around Jesus and youíll be fine."
The biggest lie of all is the one that suggests that we are not dead. Translated, this lie suggests that we donít need to repent. Of course. If you arenít dead, you are alive Ė and essentially ok. Thus, letís have a positive gospel of self-esteem, and affirmation of ourselves just like they are. Letís have a Jesus that we can accept into our hearts without ANY MENTION AT ALL of our sin, or of our need to repent.
The Truth is, unless we repent of the sin we cannot be saved. If you and I do not repent of our sin against God, we will not receive Christ, and we will not go to heaven. We remain DEAD, and are on our way to eternal death and separation from God.
Why? Why must we repent in order to be saved?
We must repent in order to be saved because what we are to repent of is the refusal of Jesus Christ. Get that. When all is said and done, the ONE SIN we must repent of is the sin of refusing to come to Jesus. Repent of that and what happens? You come to Jesus. And your sins are then forgiven. You are saved.
This is why Jesus preached, "Repent and believe." You really cannot repent without believing, nor can you believe without repenting. Why? Because repentance is a change of mind FROM not believing TO believing. The two go together.
We see this more clearly when we see that repentance is A CHANGE OF MIND. But not a change of mind as a thing unto itself. Repentance is a change of mind towards God Himself. I change my mind from unbelief Ė or independence from God -- to faith, which is surrender and reliance upon Him.
"Mind," here, does not mean, "brains," or, "thinking." It means attitude of heart and INTENT. In short, I change my relationship to God from that of rebellion to surrender.
Now, of course, I cannot save myself or take the initiative to change myself. God must draw me to Christ and give me LIGHT. But I must respond by coming into the LIGHT. (see John 3:19) If I do, then repentance will follow. Repentance is a MORAL change because God has shown me the Truth about myself, and the Truth about Jesus.
More About Repentance
Repentance is not merely altered conduct. Anyone can alter their conduct if they come under a rewards and punishment system of religion. Neither is repentance merely a matter of being sorry for my sins. Of course, that will be included, but this is not the root of repentance. Repentance, when all is said and done, is a change of my MORAL RELATIONSHIP Ė my heart attitude Ė towards GOD HIMSELF.
The key to repentance is to see that we have been WRONG WITH GOD. I certainly do confess my sins. Sins are the many violations of Godís law that characterize our lives. But sins are really only the evidence of our being wrong with God. On the other hand, being, "wrong with God," involves more than just sins. I am wrong with God because I have been living life on my own terms Ė living life independent of God. Doing my own thing. Being my own God. OWNING MYSELF. This is THE SIN.
Here we see a definition of the sin of UNBELIEF. Unbelief is the sin of the human race. The term may be a bit confusing to some, for many of us think that faith is merely believing true facts, and that, consequently, unbelief is merely, "NOT believing true facts." No. Rather, faith is a moral surrender TO the Truth, who is a Person. And that makes unbelief the opposite. Therefore, faith is a condition of being RIGHT with God through Christ. Unbelief is the condition of being WRONG with God because I am living life on my own terms. Unbelief is a refusal to believe, a neglect to believe, and a moral position outside of accountability to God.
It is possible for a person to live in unbelief, but to be a nice person. You can be a person who, "has really never done anything wrong," and be in unbelief. Indeed, you can be an upstanding, church-going, respected individual, who serves on committees, and lives your religion with dedication. You might even be in the ministry. But you might still be WRONG with God. All of the things you are doing may not be the outcome of repentance Ė but a substitute for it. The question is whether you are living life on your own terms, or on Godís terms.
Again we see direction Ė MORAL direction. Repentance and conversion do not mean perfection. They speak of DIRECTION OF RELATIONSHIP. In other words, I will always sin, but if I have repented, I will not WANT to sin. My flesh might still like to sin, but the REAL ME wonít want to sin. I will be like Paul in Romans 7: "If I donít want to sin, then it is no longer I, but sin in me."
Today, repentance is preached less and less. Why? Because it offends people, and hurts church attendance. And sometimes the WAY repentance is preached is not in the Spirit of Christ. God never says, "Repent and believe or Iíll will punish you by sending you to hell!!!!" No. This is not the attitude of God. Rather, He says, "You are already dead in sin, and on your way to hell. Jesus came to give you LIFE. Repent and be saved."
Thus, we see that, yes, the alternative to repentance is eternal death. But the gospel is not a threat of punishment, but rather, an offer of life.
There are other deceptions. For instance, how many people have been told that all they need for salvation is to repeat the words, "Dear Jesus, come into my heart."? That sounds good. And I do believe that if a person is really sincere about that, that God will begin a work in them. But it will be a work UNTO REPENTANCE. Jesus cannot come into a heart that has not repented of the very things that oppose Him in that heart. He cannot.
Read the Bible. Repent and believe always go together. In the end, they always do. Because again, you cannot truly believe unless you are repenting of unbelief, and you are not truly repenting unless it results in faith.
The oldest lie in the world, and the biggest one, is that we will NOT DIE. In the Christian age, this translates into the notion that we donít need to repent, and we donít need salvation. This is a deception that is more and more becoming the NORM in our churches today. But these passages should more than prove to us the importance of seeing the Truth on this matter.
(Luke 13:5) I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
(Acts 2:37-39) Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
(Acts 3:19) Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
(Acts 17:30-31) And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commands all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
(Mark 2:17) When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
(Luke 3:7-8) Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
(Luke 24:46-47) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
(Acts 20:20-21) And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, 21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Rom 2:4) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
(2 Cor 7:10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
(2 Pet 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
(Mark 1:15) And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
(Mark 6:12) And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
The reason the gospel does not seem effective today is because so many are NOT preaching the gospel. They are not preaching repentance, or if they are, are preaching it as a threat of punishment. We must repent and believe. But all of it is unto LIFE in Jesus Christ. Any other message is part of the biggest lie ever told.
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