Key Verse: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
How many times do we need to repent? Is repentance only a one-time event? In regards to salvation, yes, most certainly. The Bible is clear, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). The moment we trust in the finished work of Christ nothing else is required. We only need to cry out for salvation once.
Furthermore, Acts 3:19 says, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,” We don’t need to keep coming back to God and repenting of the same sin over and over. The enemy will keep reminding us of sins from years ago to make us feel guilty and unworthy. The Bible teaching is clear, and God says in Isaiah 43:25, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” When we turn to God in repentance, our sins are gone, dealt with and wiped out and removed forever.
Nevertheless, ongoing repentance has an essential role in the life of every believer. We called to maintain a repentant heart, to acknowledge our sin and seeking God’s grace and mercy daily. At the moment of our salvation penalty of sin is removed, but the reality of sin in our earthly life remains. Consequently, we have a secondary form of repentance, as the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and we repent in the process of sanctification. Westminster Shorter Catechism says, sanctification is “the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.”
Jesus told the church in Ephesus that they must repent of their poor witness (see Revelations 2:5). Hebrews 12:7-11 teaches that if we live in unrepentant sin, we will suffer consequences of our sin as we are disciplined in love by our heavenly Father. Our need of ongoing repentance comes as a result of our sinful self, interfering with the closeness of our walk with Christ.
At salvation, we prayed with a repentant heart crying out for forgiveness and eternal life. Now having been saved, we repent for a different reason. We repent that our fellowship with God would not be broken. That we would remain a faithful witness and daily become more like Christ. We need to confess our sins to Him and seek His forgiveness without delay. Remember the Bible says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).