Hi John,

In repentance for salvation, is there any element of desiring to turn from sin? Thanks.



Hello Jeff,

Thanks for your question. Repentance has become a confused doctrine. Some nearly turn it into works, even though they do not believe in a works-salvation.

Since the natural man does not discern spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14), his only hope is the fact that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). The Spirit’s conviction regarding sin as the problem, judgment as the consequence, and Christ’s righteousness as the solution is what brings sinners to repentance. But what is repentance?

Repentance is a change of mind regarding these three truths. To repent means to change your mind. “Mind” involves the understanding. “Your” involves the affections, where you allow what you understand to affect you. And “change” involves the will based on what you have become convinced of. That’s why the Holy Spirit is the convincer—to convince people of sin, righteousness, and judgment so that they trust in Jesus (righteousness) to save them from sin (sin) and hell (judgment). This is faith in Christ, yet this is repentance. Believing in Jesus emphasizes the object of faith, whereas repentance emphasizes the transaction.

Repentance is the turn of trust in Christ alone for salvation from sin and judgment. However, repentance does not mean to “turn and trust” or you’re back to works. It is the turn of trust. This brings us to the focus of your question.

The reason the Holy Spirit convicts people of sin and its consequence of judgment lifting up Christ as the answer is so that they will turn to Christ to save them from sin and judgment. A sick person cannot turn from his sickness or he would not need a doctor. Rather, he turns to a doctor to deliver him from his sickness. In the same way, a lost man does not turn from his sin or he would not need a Savior. Rather, he turns to the Savior to deliver him from sin and judgment.

The problem is sin, but not sinning is not the solution—Christ is. Yet when a lost person receives Christ, then the indwelling Christ can free him from the power of sin as he walks by faith. But at the moment of salvation, when one repents by turning in faith to Christ to save him, he, through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, has seen sin as the problem, and so turns to Christ to save him. However, the dependence is on Christ, not one’s desire to turn from sin, or you’re back to self-dependence.