Unless You Repent

February 22, 2024 — Krystal Craven
The title text "Unless You Repent" over a u-turn ahead road sign with a road making a sharp turn in the background.

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)

Do you remember in John 9 the situation with the man who was born blind and Jesus’ disciples asked Him if it was the man or his parents who had sinned that caused him to be born blind? And now here we see that the perception of the people mimics this idea that hardship somehow equates to how bad of a sinner someone is.

Even in our current culture of unchurched, people tend to claim “karma” – the idea that if you do good, good will happen to you and if you do bad, bad will happen to you. But Jesus debunked that, not only in John 9, when He answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) but also here, when He says not once but twice, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

To God, sin is sin.

It doesn’t matter if the sin is telling a lie or killing someone, sin is sin.

A common example given is that when you view a city from an airplane, you can’t tell which buildings are houses or skyscrapers. They all look like little tiny boxes from that high. But think of this – If you caught someone lying to you, did they do wrong towards you? How about if someone came over to your house and stole from you, would you say they wronged you? What about if someone walked up to you and punched you in the face, would that be wrong towards you? Sure, you might feel different levels of upset about those, but regardless of how bad, they still wronged you.

But let’s take the emotion out of it - if you get pulled over for speeding 5 miles per hour over the legal speed limit, did you break the law? If you get pulled over for speeding 20 miles per hour over the legal speed limit, did you break the law? Since the law states the speed limit, even if you’re only driving a little over that, you have technically broken the law.

God, who is holy and good, gave us His law, first through the ten commandments, and later in more details through Moses, which included those 613 laws, both ceremonial laws and moral laws. There has only been one human to date who has never broken any of those laws and that was fulfilled through Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, IN ORDER that through His fulfillment of them He would be the perfect substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf. If we’re in court for speeding, even if only 1 mile and hour over the speed limit, facing fines for breaking the law – it would be like Jesus standing up, paying our fines, doing traffic school on our behalf, and our driving record is instantly clean.

But Unless

That is of course a very simplistic example, but the idea is the same – we did the crime but Jesus paid the time, it’s that great exchange in which Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them… For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:19a,21)

But just because Jesus died for the sins of the world and quite literally anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior will be saved, doesn’t mean that everyone will be saved. Jesus makes it very clear that unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. So indeed, sin is sin and all who confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9), but if repentance doesn’t happen, then salvation isn’t received. Repentance is the predecessor, the heart soil prepper, so to speak, to the seed of salvation to be sown and grow – they go hand in hand.

Don’t misunderstand this, because this isn’t adding extra requirements to salvation, simply put – One will indeed be saved if they confess and believe, but one who doesn’t repent won’t confess and believe.

Remember it mentioned that Jesus fulfilled the Law perfectly and then died on our behalf? No one could ever have or ever will fulfill the Law. The point of the Law was to point us to the realization that we are sinners and need a Savior to stand in the gap between us and God to reconcile us. Only Jesus could do that. And it was that kindness towards us, that Jesus died while we were still sinners, that leads us to repentance.

If you are reading this and you’re saved – rejoice that your sins are forgiven and meditate on the love, joy, and unity we get to share with God in the reconciliation that Jesus died to give us.

If you are reading this and you’re not saved – all the sins you’ve committed, no matter how big or small, does not separate you from the love of God. He loves you so much, which is why Jesus died for you. He offers you salvation in Him today – will you receive it?

The text from Luke 13:2-3 that says "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" over a u-turn ahead road sign with greenery in the background.