Hebrews 6:1 says that if we are to mature in our faith, we must leave behind repentance. This is in conflict with much of what is taught today by many Bible teachers. Many believers are taught they need to daily focus on repentance, meaning confessing of sin so they can be forgiven by God, remain holy before God, and so they will not be "out of fellowship with God". By repentance, they are taught they need to be turning from a certain sin and trying harder not to commit that sin again. This constant focus on sin keeps believers immature and in bondage to sin because they continually focus on sin and live in fear of being unholy before God and out of fellowship with God. Only by leaving behind repentance and embracing the finished work of Jesus on the cross can we ever move forward in our faith.
Those who are stuck in the cycle of repentance constantly feel condemned by God and separated from him. They feel God is angry with them. They feel God is sick and tired of them. So what do they do? They repent. They ask God to forgive them for the thousandth time. They tell God they will turn from that sin and try harder to not commit that sin again. Yet, they commit the same sin again and again and again. And what do they do? What have they been taught to do? Repent again and again and again. Yet, they continue to fail. Then they are told by their preacher, teacher, or mentor that they did not really repent because if they would have they would have not gone back to that sin. This brings even more condemnation, guilt, and shame. So what do they do? They try to repent earnestly the next time. Yet, they find themselves caught back up in the same cycle of repentance: sin, confess, ask for forgiveness, turn from the sin, try harder not to sin, eventually fail, experience guilt, shame, and condemnation, confess, and on and on and on for the rest of their lives. Some people even give up because they believe God is tired of them and their cycle of repentance. Believing God is tired of them, they walk away from God and dive deeper into the sin they have been repenting of for years.
How does a person break this pattern of endless repentance? According to the Bible, Hebrews 6:1, leave it behind. Repentance has it's place, but it is for the unbeliever. In repenting, the unbeliever is led by the kindness of God (Romans 2:7) to admit (confesses) to God he is a sinner, acknowledges Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead, and accepts Jesus' payment by faith; thus beginning a relationship with God. Once an unbeliever repents there is no more need for repentance. He can now move forward in his newly found faith without saying stuck in the continuation and condemnation of repentance.
If we are leaving behind repentance, then what do we move forward into? The answer is found in the book of Hebrews. We move forward into the new covenant of grace...the finished work of Jesus on the cross where all of our sins have been forgiven and GOD REMEMBERS THEM NO MORE (Hebrews 8:12-13, 10:17-18). We move forward into the truths of the new covenant where God says we have been made holy and perfect before God forever through Jesus' one time sacrifice and payment for all sin for all time by grace (Hebrews 2:9, 7:27, 9:12, 10:9-14). We move forward into the truths where we know God in an intimate relationship based upon his love that he has written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:10-11, 10:16). In this intimate relationship with God made possible through the blood of Jesus, by which he ushered in the new covenant of grace, we draw close to God in an authentic, genuine, and sincere relationship (Hebrews 7:19, 10:19-22). In drawing close to God, knowing we are loved, forgiven, and accepted by him, we can be, for the first time, honest and transparent with him. We no longer see God as one who is sick and tired of our endless repentance, but as the God who welcomes us into the throne of grace, the very presence of unconditional love and unmerited kindness. We talk with God about everything in our lives, knowing he cares for us as his own.
Because of the new covenant of grace, not only can we be open and honest with God for the first time without fear of rejection but assured of his love and acceptance, we can also be open and honest with others as well (those who understand grace...those who don't will only beat you down more). Through honesty with others who understand grace, we can come out of hiding our sins and talk about them openly. By doing this, we find healing.
Living in the endless cycle of repentance keeps a person in bondage...bound by fear. Leaving behind repentance sets a person free from fear as they embrace the truths of the new covenant of grace by faith.
Once we embrace the new covenant truths of grace by faith, meaning we believe the truth that Jesus paid the full and eternal payment for our sins through his sacrifice, that God remembers our sins no more, that all of our sins have been forgiven, that God sees us as holy and perfect in his sight, that he accepts us, that we are now in an intimate love relationship with God where we come into his presence of grace with an authentic, genuine, sincere heart, having to no longer hide from him and having to no longer beg him for forgiveness for the thousandth time, we begin to thank God (Hebrews 13:15) for all that he has done for us through Jesus, rather than constantly ask him to do what he has already done.
As we leave behind repentance and begin walking in the fullness of the new covenant of grace by faith, thanking God for all that he has freely and lovingly done for us in Jesus, something happens...we begin to grow, we begin to change, and we begin to experience joy. Our hearts begin to be strengthened by grace (Hebrews 13:9).
Leaving behind repentance and embracing the new covenant of grace is the reason the book of Hebrews was written. The Hebrew or Jewish people were refusing to rest in the finished work of Jesus (Hebrews 3:19-4:11). Rather than resting, they continued in repentance. By continuing in repentance, they were daily crucifying Jesus (Hebrews 6:6), they were trampling under foot the blood of Jesus, they were treating his blood as not sufficient for the forgiveness of all their sins (Hebrews 10:29). By continuing in repentance, they were sinning in unbelief by refusing to rest in the finished work of Jesus (Hebrews 10:26, 3:7-19) In doing this, they were insulting the Spirit of grace (Hebrews 10:29).
One of the reasons the author of Hebrews wrote a letter to the Hebrew people was to help the believers among them escape the endless cycle, misery, burden, and bondage of repentance by embracing the truths of the new covenant by faith and by thanking God daily for all he did for them through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, rather that begging him daily for what was already freely theirs through the shed blood of Jesus.
Maybe you have been living in the bondage of repentance, believing God is sick and tired of your empty confessions and promises. Maybe you are ready to give up because you believe God is ready to give up on you. God is not ready to give up on you. The cross is proof of how much he loves you. No, he is ready to give to you his grace. He is ready to reveal to you just how great his grace is. He wants you to know he loves you. He wants you to know he remembers your sins no more. He wants you to know you are holy and perfect in his sight through the shed blood of Jesus which has cleansed you from all sin. He wants you to know you can be open, honest, and transparent with him in a genuine, authentic, and sincere relationship without fear of rejection. He wants you to know, because of grace, you do not have to live one minute longer in fear, condemnation, guilt, and shame. He loves you. He has forgiven you of all your sins. He accepts you.
And what do you do in light of all he has done for you out of his love and kindness? Just say "Thank you."
As you live daily thanking God for all he has done for you with a heart of appreciation, watch what will happen in your heart...depression will leave..fear will leave...condemnation will leave...guilt will leave...shame will leave...anger will leave...addictions will leave...along with many other things that will leave, too!
And why will these leave? Because you will have left behind repentance and moved forward in the new covenant truths of grace.