Why Salvation Requires Repentance

Today's devotion offers additional insights and Bible study in the notes below. I encourage you to take some extra time to do this additional study because this subject is of vital importance and we need to accurately understand it. You can also listen to Gail sharing this devotion on YouTube HERE.

Matthew 7 talks about professing Christians who aren't saved. 1 Corinthians 3 talks about professing Christians who are "barely saved." This 1-minute devotion explains. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible #Salvation #Devotions

Matthew 7:21-23 and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 address two groups of people who think they are serving God. Both groups are self-deceived. Their works count for nothing.

But the people in 1 Corinthians go to heaven and those in Matthew go to hell.

Matthew 7:23 is key.

Jesus says He never knew the unfaithful in Matthew, even though they professed Him as their Lord. He calls them "evildoers." They appear to think they are saved because they've done ministry in Christ's name, but Jesus knows they've never genuinely repented of their sins. They may have spoken words of repentance, but biblical repentance is more than words. It's a change of heart.(1) 

In contrast, the genuine believers in 1 Corinthians 3 have wasted their lives on useless pursuits; but they've obviously repented of their sins or they wouldn't be saved.

Sin separates us from God. If a person genuinely follows Jesus, their sins will bother them. They won't excuse them or ignore them. They will face them and repent. 

It's the difference between those who "barely escape" the flames of God's judgment and those who don't escape at all.

(1) Metanoia is the Greek word most commonly translated repentance in the New Testament and it means "change of mind, change in the inner man."

Additional Notes and Bible Study Suggestions

Important notes:    

➯ We don't "lose our salvation" when we sin. All Christians sin. But genuine believers repent of their sins and refuse to live sinful lifestyles. 

➯ We can identify bad fruit in the church (Matthew 7:15-17), but we aren't able to see people's hearts and accurately identify all true and false converts. That's not our job. 

➯ But we can and should examine our own hearts (2 Corinthians 13:5). Do you have doubts about your salvation? Do you have doubts about the "building materials" of your faith? Please pray about these things and seek godly counsel.

 Sometimes we equate a sinful lifestyle only with sexual immorality, but 2 Timothy 3:1-5 lists quite a few lifestyles that reflect people who "have a form of godliness but deny its power." And Galatians 5:19-21 also lists lifestyles of unsaved people. In addition, Matthew 6:15 and Matthew 18:21-35 contain a strong warning in relation to genuine salvation.

To do more Bible study on this topic:

Matthew 7 talks about professing Christians who aren't saved. 1 Corinthians 3 talks about professing Christians who are "barely saved." This 1-minute devotion explains. #BibleLoveNotes #Bible #Salvation #Devotions

 Use a concordance to discover how often Jesus said "repent." If you have difficulty repenting of your sins, please take time to read each of the 1-minute devotions in the collection called Our Need for Repentance. I especially recommend 6 Aspects of Godly Sorrow and 4 Things that Happen when we Fail to Repent.

 Study these passages and note how repentance and obedience are necessary aspects of the Christian life: 
Galatians 5:19-21
Hebrews 10:26-31
1 John 1:8-10
1 John 2:4
1 John 3:6-10
John 14:21
3 John 1:11
2 Timothy 2:19

 Ask God if you are doing His will, using your life for His purposes, and building your faith on sound teachings. None of us want to build with wood, hay and straw when we could be building with gold, silver, and costly stones. See Romans 12:1-2 and Ephesians 2:10, and pray Colossians 1:9-14 for yourself and your loved ones. See 6 Reasons to Pray Colossians 1:9.
Full passages discussed in this devotion:

Matthew 7:21-23: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

1 Corinthians 3:10-15: "By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames."



I encourage you to check out the Wisdom for Life Devotional. It contains 100 one-minute devotions to challenge, encourage, instruct, and inspire your love for God's Word: Wisdom for Life. Read the story behind Wisdom for Life HERE. And find out about the two free Bible studies with purchase HERE 
I also encourage you to sign up for a free subscription to Bible Love Notes and get a free e-booklet. Find out more HERE.

Bible Love Notes

Matthew 7 talks about professing Christians who aren't saved. 1 Corinthians 3 talks about professing Christians who are "barely saved." This 1-minute devotion explains.

Matthew 7 talks about professing Christians who aren't saved. 1 Corinthians 3 talks about professing Christians who are "barely saved." This 1-minute devotion explains.


  1. I respectfully disagree. Eternal salvation requires nothing but belief in God's Son, Jesus Christ and the saving work HE did on the cross for all of us over 2000 years ago. Our only decision is do we believe it or not. It is a pure gift of grace from Jesus/God to us. If we decide to accept His gift, that is defined as metanoia, a changing of our minds. But to imply that repentance is an act we must also "do" in addition to "changing of our mind" is misleading. Repentance implies "works" or some outward sign of proof to others. We are not required to prove anything to man in order to be justified.

    Justification (metanoia) is a one-time, one moment event in our lives. In a nano second we can go from unbelief to belief. It doesn't require a certain prayer or walking an aisle or any other man made ritual or works to profess it. It is a private transaction between us and God. No man can judge our hearts, only God.

    Every act after that moment in time is sanctification. And we are either progressively growing in our sanctification or we are not. Because we still have our sin nature after justification there are many who believe but may never grow in Christ through sanctification. Hopefully, we will allow the Holy Spirit, who enters us at the moment of justification to convict our hearts but many will continue to be strongly ruled by their sin nature. It is only at the moment of glorification, either by death or the rapture, that we will no longer have to contend with our sin natures.

    1. There are probably others who agree with you, but most of what you say in this comment contradicts Scripture.

    2. That's your opinion. This devotion is based on the Word of God in the Bible. Are you saying that the Word of God is false? We all want to goto heaven, but just barely getting there isn't good enough. Because, you're probably deceived from listening to preachers, and not reading and praying and following the Word. If you believe in John 3:16 and believe that you have given your will to God, and His will is in you. You will not be easily swayed towards sin, however you will probably be tempted profusely by the evildoers/Satan. But, if you even sin a small sin it will bother your heart daily until you repent, and the pain of sin hurts deeply. If the sins tempt you the Holy Spirit will deliver you. Now, a heart that is giving, forgiving, loving house, and hate of evils will be in you from God. Nothing of the world will be important, because God provides, and you'll be grateful and thankful. Your main concern is for others to know how God saves and loves. Its very important to read the Bible, and kjv, and pray a lot! Be still and know He is God...means that you stop, wait, for all direction from within from the Holy Spirit. It's not a genie bottle relationship and honestly prosperity is not what you aspire to, but following your own path that God has laid out for you. Forgive and be forgiven. Love others, as you love yourself, as you love God. You follow in faithfulness of God.

  2. Does it? I suppose you could say that if you interpret scripture from an eisegesis point of view. I prefer a literal, exegesis study of the bible, it's more objective and less prone to subjective misinterpretation.

    For me, being certain that my salvation depends only on what Jesus did for me on the cross and that there is nothing I can do to secure it other than believing that with all my heart gives me great comfort at night. It's about what He did, not about me or anything I can do. Remember the thief on the cross? He had no time to "repent", other than to change his mind (metanoia) and Christ said to him: "Today you will be with me in paradise."

    I suppose we will have to agree to disagree.

    1. I have a Masters from Seminary, so I know that your use of eisegesis and exegesis are confused.

      Exegesis - finding out what Scripture actually teaches, proves that repentance is a requirement for salvation.

      The only way you can claim the repentance is optional for salvation is by using Eisegesis, trying to make Scripture fit a preconceived view.

      In seminary, I did an in-depth study and refutation of Zane Hodges writing about "Free Grace Theology" (i.e. cheap grace eisegesis). Hodges believes there are saved people who don't repent and disciples who do, but Scripture makes no such distinction.

      This is a man-made teaching to explain away the obvious truths of Scripture, and it’s pretty lame even for eisegesis.

      And the Authority I found who spoke most eloquently and clearly against Hodges theology is a Man named Jesus.

      “From that time on Jesus began to preach, “REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” - Matthew 4:17 (NIV)

      “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who REPENTS than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” - Luke 15:7 (NIV)

      “But unless you REPENT, you too will all perish.” - Luke 13:3 (NIV)

      You have got to jump through hoops and twist Scripture in incredible knots to believe repentance is not an essential ingredient of salvation, and I have to wonder why people want to do this? Is it so we can continue in sin? "God forbid!" Romans 6:15

      Or is it so we can comfort ourselves that a relative who made a profession of faith is saved even though he lives an evil life?

      I'll just end with a little more exegesis on this subject:

      “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” - Acts 3:19 (NIV)

      “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.” - 2 Timothy 2:25

      “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.” - Romans 2:5 (NIV)

    2. And I apologize for not addressing your example of the thief on the cross who you claim did not repent.

      This is what the thief said and I've capitalized his words of repentance:

      One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And WE INDEED ARE SUFFERING JUSTLY, FOR WE ARE RECEIVING WHAT WE DESERVE FOR OUR DEEDS; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

      Those are clearly words of repentance spoken at a time when most men (and the other thief) would be justifying themselves and feeling sorry for themselves, not sorry for their sins. This thief couldn't prove his repentance, but Jesus saw his heart and knew it was genuine, and it certainly sounds genuine to me.

      I'm not refuting death-bed conversions. I'm refuting salvation apart from repentance. Repentance is knowing we are a sinner who deserves to be punished and believing in Christ who offers the only solution to our problem.

      If we aren't sorry for our sins, we don't know Jesus at all, and if we don't know Jesus, we aren't saved.

      Please note what Hebrews 6 calls salvation:

      Hebrews 6:4-8: those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again TO REPENTANCE, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

    3. Jesus never said repent. Repent is not a greek word. He said metanoia. It means change of mind. To get the true meaning you have to use the words Jesus used and he used the greek Metanoia

    4. Hi BPatenious,
      Jesus never said anything in English.

      But we can trust the thousands of Bible scholars who've carefully studied the Greek and have translated Metanoia /Metanoeite as repent.

      It does mean that we change our mind - it means we change our mind about sin and we realize we need a Savior because of our sins.

      And just to show you how dedicated Christian Bible scholars have handled the word Metanoeite, let's check out 12 Translations of Christ's words in Matthew 4:17:

      New International Version
      From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

      New Living Translation
      From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”

      English Standard Version
      From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

      Berean Study Bible
      From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

      Berean Literal Bible
      From that time Jesus began to proclaim and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near!"

      King James Bible
      From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

      New King James Version
      From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

      New American Standard Bible
      From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

      NASB 1995
      From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

      NASB 1977
      From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

      Amplified Bible
      From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

      Christian Standard Bible
      From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

  3. oh, seems I hit a nerve. I'm sorry but I'm not at all arguing for cheap grace. What I am saying is that God's gift of grace is free, we only need accept it to be saved. There is nothing cheap about that and to say so implies disrespect. I have the utmost respect for the free gift of grace that God offers to us and I am thankful everyday for the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf.

    Where "repentant" behavior may or may not manifest itself on any particular day is through my sanctification not my justification. My daily walk with the Lord is like any other relationship in my life. We have our good days and our bad days, depending on how much I may be battling my sin nature at any given moment. What I do know for certain and without a doubt, is that my eternal salvation is secure, everything after that is between me and God and not for anyone else to judge.

    God Bless You Gail.

    1. If you are talking about daily repentance of sin, we are talking apples and oranges.

      There is a repentance that leads to salvation, an acknowledgment that we need a savior. And the only way we can genuinely understand God's gracious gift is to understand our sins. Hodges and others claim that a person can "believe" in Christ without ever acknowledging and repenting of their sins. That would mean Satan is saved.

      But it sounds like you are talking about our day in, day out conviction of our sins. I am not saying that if a Christian fails to repent of every last tiny sin that he won't go to heaven.

      Scripture is clear that genuinely saved people will not live a lifestyle of sin. 1 John 3:6: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

      But we are not going to be barred from heaven for individual sins we didn't recognize and repent of.

  4. I'm arguing that the title of your article is misleading. Salvation does not require Repentance, only the acceptance and belief of the saving work of Jesus Christ on the Cross on our behalf. Satan certainly acknowledges God but I would hardly say that he accepts HIm.

    Those who truly believe/accept Jesus, are saved for all eternity. Those that don't, are not. That's it. That's the gospel. The gospel is not believe AND in addition to that, say a certain prayer, make a public profession of faith or live a sinless lifestyle. What would a sinless lifestyle even look like and who gets to determine whether or not we are living up to that impossible task while we all wait for Jesus to return? I'm not that holy and perfect, are you?

    What makes the gospel so beautiful and amazing, is the simplicity of it, not the negative, manmade works/laws and interpretations that get attached to it and misconstrue. To accept and believe the true gospel requires humility and self reflection, not a list of do's and don't's in order to join the club.

    And to say the "scripture is clear that genuinely saved people will not live a lifestyle of sin. 1 John 3:6: No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him", is to invoke fear and doubt about the doctrine of salvation not to convey the beauty of it.

    1. I'm fine with my title as I think it accurately reflects the plethora of Scriptures in the devotion, and I don't agree with your turning repentance into a "work." We could just as easily call love for God a "work" and claim that we can still be saved if we don't love God. Or we can call prayer a work and claim that Christians don't need to pray. Etc.

      You keep "putting words in my mouth" and then arguing with your own words, not mine. Where in my devotion or comments did I write "say a certain prayer, make a public profession of faith or live a sinless lifestyle" or "a list of do's and don'ts in order to join the club" or most of the other ridiculous things you are acting as if I have written about. And you've never once responded to the plethora of Scriptures I gave you that directly link salvation with repentance.

      I would like to end this debate because it has devolved, but I do need to add this one thing: If you think quoting 1 John 3:6 invokes fear about the doctrine of salvation, your beef is with God, not with me. I didn't write it. God did.

      Let's agree to disagree, friend.

    2. Everything you’ve said is spot on, and I agree, a lot of people don’t like to hear the truth so they twist it to fit them. Yes it’s so very clear in scripture repentance is necessary, coming straight from Jesus’ mouth multiple times. People will either allow God’s word to change their mind and heart with a humble attitude or they don’t, it’s sad when they don’t. Anyway it’s clear you know God’s word and who He is, thanks for this! Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    3. You are true in your argument, There is no salvation without repentance.Once you get born again, you are also supposed to be aware sin can be committed knowingly and unknowingly, so you must proceed with repe3ntance on a daily basis.The Holy spirit who convicts us of our sins will always highlight to you areas of your life which needs repentance and put remorsefulness in the heart for repentance.After repentance there is responsibility because you become the prime target of the devil hence that salvation can easily be lost.

  5. Please read James 2:14-26. Works cannot save us; works do demonstrate the condition of our hearts.

  6. This is y religion is different from the Word of God, where two gather and agree I am there also, I ask for forgiveness daily, because I sin daily. Because we live in a sinful world

    1. We all sin daily but allow me to give you food for thought on the "ask for forgiveness daily". Jesus died for our sins, past, present and future before we ever came to be. When we accepted him as our savior, we are forgiven our sins. The are blotted out. Our Father God doesn't see them any longer. They are gone! As far as the east is from the west. We are covered by the blood of Jesus and God sees only this -
      Paid in full. Repentance is a whole different matter - but our sins are forgiven thus the need to beg for that forgiveness daily is not needed. I hope this makes sense and just something to think about.

    2. Hi Unknown,
      Annie said "ask for forgiveness." She didn't say "beg for forgiveness." Begging makes it sound like a person has to convince God to forgive, so I'm not sure why you chose to use that phrase when that's not what Annie said.

      Yes, when we genuinely come to Christ, we are forgiven past, present, and future. On that we agree.

      1 John was written to Christians who were forgiven past, present and future. It was not written to an unsaved audience, and in the first chapter verses 8-10 it says:

      "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us."

      And in Revelation 3:19, Jesus says, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent."

      But, if I understand what you are saying, we don't actually need to do what Jesus commands or what 1 John 1:8-10 commands because we're already forgiven. Or are you saying we don't need to do it daily, only monthly or occasionally?

      Because I love Jesus, I want Him to know I am sorry for my sins and I want Him to know that I don't take His forgiveness for granted. Refusing to address our sins when they happen usually leads to excusing them or forgetting them and that leads to a hardening of our hearts and eventually a seared conscience. What purpose would I have in not confessing my sins daily and seeking His help in overcoming them?

  7. I found this discussion very interesting. Thank you both.

  8. Oh Gail! Don’t you get tired of casting your pearls before swine? I wonder why someone continues to read your love notes when they are just looking for a format to show off a few seminary style words, or they want to feel important. Wish their hearts would become open to learning, not trying to sow seeds of discord.
    I think you do a wonderful ministry. I pass on many of your articles to others, including a group Bible study. You have a way to present material that is authentic and easy for new to the faith to understand. Thank you. You are appreciated

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Jennifer. You made my day!

    2. Is there anyone here without sin?

  9. No there is not but the bible clearly states when we are to repent if something we said or partook in we know is wrong the Holy Spirit will convict us and to ask Gods forgiveness he will forgive us so we dont slip back into sin or keep doing the same thing over when we should be moving away from it.i dont watch the same movies or music I used too and has given peace and away from the world. We will not stop sinning because we are still in the flesh. But repentance keeps me humble.

  10. One of the most important word spoken by Peter in Act 2:38 REPENT and Be Baptized ✝️
    Peter's 1st Sermon teaches us the power of repentance and how it has a very important role in our salvation.

  11. Thank you so much Gail for your teachings.I'm a South African, your teachings made me to stop justifying my sins. I believe in repentance.Now,I know that I can't say I'm saved by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ but ignoring or justifying my sins.I have to be aware that I've sinned, oh! Lord Jesus and that my sins are many.I have to repent all my sins.Thanks again, may our Almighty God bless you abundantly.We really need this clarification on the Word of God.

    1. I'm so encouraged that God is giving you wisdom, Rosy.
      God bless you.

  12. WOW, I read through this I have to agree with Gail there's no salvation without repentance what does it say in Scripture, have you read it with understanding? repent! We have to discern the lies no matter how subtle they are from the enemy, thank God for the millennium for the ones that didn't have a chance, that's been misled by the lies of the enemy,(false)prophets teachers preachers. Lord have mercy on all the deceived and lost souls. Amen and Amen... ��

  13. 1. Repent for your sins! (✓)
    2. In humility, pray to God to give you His Grace to come to faith and follow His Son Jesus (✓)
    3. Wait for God to answer (be patient and stay faithful that He will), and have faith that even though with us, our salvation is impossible, but with God all is possible. Pray and submit to God in complete trust and surrender of our wilful rebelliousness to His Will and to His Purpose for us. (✓)
    4. While you wait, read and study the Word of God (you will only prosper spiritually, and also God speaks volumes to us as we read from His Word). (✓)
    5. It is only by God's revelation to us that we are able to come to realise and know that Jesus Christ is indeed His beloved Son, that it is only through Jesus, that we are justified, and that through the Holy Spirit Whom Christ has sent to us are we guided, convicted and sanctified, day by day as we turn our lives towards God, doing His Will while denying ours and grow in faith as we are transformed into the image of our Master and Saviour. (✓)
    6. Do good deeds, not because we can or think we have to, but because it is the fruits of our faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit - even the ability to do good works is a gift of God's Grace (not because of any good from our hearts - no one is good except God) (✓)