The great dilemma in the present day Church is at WHAT point does the sin have to Stop in order for real Salvation to take place? Must it stop before pardon can be granted or after, or does it NEVER stop?
Unanimously the Church preaches that God ‘Saves you in your sins and cleans you up later.’ BUT the actual stopping of sin remains in question. If the person cannot, of his own power, stop sinning when he comes to God, WHY is he STILL unable to stop after Salvation has supposedly taken place since everyone will agree that NO ONE EVER stops sinning?
Any suggestion that the person can indeed Stop the evil of his doings BEFORE pardon can be granted is automatically equivalent to ‘Saving yourself’ and no longer needing Jesus. Therefore repentance is a confession that you are a sinner, unable to prepare yourself and call upon God and you merely come to Him DOING NOTHING but seeking His forgiveness and mercy as the remedy for your sin. The reason for this is that you are Born a Sinner, morally depraved by nature, unable within yourself to do anything leading to your salvation. Until God by His Grace liberates your free will in order for you to repent and believe. Therefore Christ doesn’t have anything to do necessarily with you stopping any particular sin at initial conversion, only providing His remedy for your ‘Sinfulness’ in order for you to be forgiven and have your moral imperfections covered by His blood.
Here is the Doctrinal Statement of Wesleyan Theology:
We believe that man’s creation in Godlikeness included ability to choose between right and wrong, and that thus he was made morally responsible; that through the fall of Adam he became depraved so that he cannot now turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith and calling upon God. But we also believe that the grace of God through Jesus Christ is freely bestowed upon all men, enabling all who will to turn from sin to righteousness, believe on Jesus Christ for pardon and cleansing from sin, and follow good works pleasing and acceptable in His sight. We believe that man, though in the possession of the experience of regeneration and entire sanctification, may fall from grace and apostatize and, unless he repent of his sin, be hopelessly and eternally lost.
The major problem with all of this is that it is IN REVERSE of the SCRIPTURE! In the Bible repentance CEARLY means a STOPPING of sin BEFORE pardon can be granted. Note the following:
“Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isa. 55:7
“Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; then the LORD will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you.” Jer. 26:13
A CLEARING of the wrong doing MUST take place BEFORE God can abundantly pardon or relent from His wrath. This follows throughout Scripture without exception. The message of the Bible ASSUMES that man is FULLY CAPABLE of obeying God and DOING what God has said to do, namely repent, STOP what your doing, and SEEK His mercy! All the Prophets preached in this manner as did the apostles in the Book of Acts. Again, let’s see what the Bible has to say:
“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.”
Here is a clear cut case of the preaching of repentance and the manner in which the mercy of God is dispensed on the people. NO ONE assumed that their stopping meant anything more than the POSSIBILITY of God sparing them from destruction. They DID NOT need some special grace or even the Holy Spirit to come in and reveal to them the evil of their doings. They KNEW ALREADY they were in the wrong by the VERY fact Jonah came preaching to them to repent. The Prophet told them the consequences of their actions and gave them the way of escape through repentance.
This should settle all the arguments anyone may have about repentance, but the church ignores it and CONTINUES to preach COME IN YOUR SINS! They insist that you must have the Holy Spirit’s presence to reveal the error of your ways, bestowed through some special operation of grace BEFORE you can turn to God and believe. And if you were able to STOP sinning (as the people of Nineveh did) you would NOT need Jesus because you could save yourself. They just can’t seem to connect the dots.
The entire fallacy of coming in your sins is based on being Born a Sinner. Therefore man is not responsible for his sin, but only receiving Jesus as the remedy for it. Then as the Holy Spirit liberates his free will and reveals wrong doings to him he becomes responsible to forsake those things as a Christian. That’s why NO ONE preaches against or about sin or sinful behavior in the church because it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to clean the people up, not the preachers responsibility to point anything out. This mission of the church is to compel people to ‘Receive’ Jesus, not seek a clearing of wrong doing. So real repentance NEVER takes place.
Why is sin committed in the dark or covered by lies? The Bible says that men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. (John 3:20-21) They KNOW adultery is wrong. If they didn’t, why lie to cover their tracts? The Holy Spirit doesn’t have to indwell them BEFORE they are aware these things are evil in the sight of God and must be abandoned. That’s why the ONLY way real conversion has any possibility of taking place is through the preaching of Repentance and faith PROVEN BY DEEDS! Man ALREADY knows he is responsible for his sins, his own conscience either accuses or excuses him.
The PROBLEM is when the Church gets into the mix and convinces them they can be SAVED in spite of what they DO! Once a person buys into the big lie of being born a sinner, they can no longer be conceived of the possibility of stopping sin. It is simply a foregone conclusion of the message that you come to God in your sins, therefore He cannot possibly hold you accountable for continuing in them since they were NEVER your fault to begin with! Man’s accountability begins and ends with ‘Receiving Jesus’ as his remedy. NO ONE is able to say that the sin has to STOP because they hold firmly to the doctrine of Man born into sin. No matter how good they can make it sound or how much they try to back it up with Scripture, the bottom line remains. You CANNOT stop (or even have the possibility of stopping) UNTIL He saves you, fills you with His Spirit, and works the sin out of you by process.
Here’s a perfect example of what I mean, written by a holiness preacher who believes you can lose your salvation by sinning:
“He takes a work of salvation in the soul to cease from sin. God gives us that power when we are saved. Prior to getting saved, one is under conviction and will bring forth fruits meet (or fit) for repentance, meaning they will be trying to stop some things as much as they can, and discontinue going to places they know are wrong.”
Notice that this has an element of truth to it and speaks of the power of God, conviction and fruits. All Scriptural terms. It seems to fit into the common salvation experience people are having in the churches. But he is extremely careful to point out and ‘strongly suggest’ that the person CANNOT STOP doing what is wrong until God comes in and helps him. (This is the common type answer from pastors.)
Now using your own sense of reason and understanding, DOES THIS match what happened in Nineveh? Were the people UNABLE to stop the evil of their doings until God saved them or did they do it BEFORE anything happened?
Did anyone in Nineveh ASSUME that their stopping of sin meant they no longer needed God’s mercy extended to them? Or did they obey the command to repent, come before God, PRESUMING NOTHING, and seeking His mercy! Unless you’re blind, the answer is obvious.
WHY then does EVERYONE THINK it happens in REVERSE? It HAS TO BE because of the presupposition that Man is Born a Sinner and CAN’T stop sinning! So back to our question:
“When Does the Sin have to Stop?”
Thanks to Mike Desario