When People Find No Place for Repentance

by Terry W. Benton

If grace so freely covers all sin without repentance, why was Paul so concerned that he warned night and day with tears about people in the church teaching false doctrine? I have a hard time reading Paul’s warnings to Timothy and come away with the modern lackadaisical attitudes toward sin and error.

At Galatia there is no indication that the ones who wanted to bind circumcision were consciously rejecting Jesus as the Son of God. They were not denying His death, burial, and resurrection. They were simply adding circumcision as a requirement. Yet, Paul said he was “afraid for them” (Galatians 4:11) and said that such was a perversion of the gospel or “another gospel” than what they preached (Galatians 1:6-10). But so what? If grace covers all things without repentance, what is the big deal?

Of Esau the record says “he found no place for repentance” (Hebrews 12:17). This seems to be the problem with sin and the misuse of grace by the modern grace-fellowship advocate. The reason Paul was so concerned about false teaching, even a small addition to the gospel like circumcision, was because people tend to accept a false doctrine and “find no place for repentance.”

If people could find a place in their thinking for repentance, grace would abundantly pardon. When the people on Pentecost asked ‘What shall we do?” and Peter told them to “repent” and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, 3,000 found a place in their heart for repentance. Simon the Sorcerer would be cleansed and pardoned again if he could find a place for repentance (Acts 8:22). David was cleansed of his sins, but only because he found a place in his thinking for repentance (Psalm 51). The people of Nineveh could save their nation from coming disaster if they could find a place for repentance, and for a while they did (Matthew 12:41).

Paul was afraid to come see the brethren at Corinth and find this situation: ”I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practice” (II Corinthians 12:21). Grace does not automatically pardon and cover our sins if we find no place for repentance. God warned the church at Thyatira that like He gave a Jezebel woman “time to repent and she did not repent” (Revelation 2:20-22) He might find them in the same danger. She found no place in her thinking to repent. The church was in the same danger unless they could find a place for repentance.

The common danger of the doctrine of “once-saved-always-saved” and of the modern doctrine of grace-fellowship is that in neither doctrine is there a place for repentance. Thus, it is one of Satan’s most effective wiles. Beware of holding to an attitude or a doctrine that leaves you or loved ones finding no place for repentance toward sins committed against God and man. When people “turn the grace of God into license” (Jude 4-5), they usually “find no place for repentance.”