A Discussion of Ability and Willingness

Quotes taken from various Emails: 


“A sinner can't stop sinning before he receives Jesus, otherwise he would be his own savior. He must repent of his past sin in order to receive Jesus. He then has the life of God in him to keep himself from sin.” David

“Receiving Jesus means that you accept Him as your Savior and Lord. When you accept Jesus as Lord, the consequence is that you will obey Him. A person is forgiven by God when they accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is not that you need to stop sinning for an hour or a day or a week before you can be forgiven. Rather, you must change your mind about breaking God's law, accepting Jesus as your Lord, and then God will forgive you immediately. Than this inward change of mind, or this inward acceptance of Jesus, will result in outward actions and conduct.”  Jesse

“I agree completely. A person must stop all known sin BEFORE God will forgive them. If a person has even ONE known sin in their life, they are under the wrath of God. The blood of Christ only covers those who forsake all known sin. If a person persists in even one known sin, the blood of Christ does not cover them. This is what I have been preaching for years and years. " -Jesse

“The Holy Spirit influences sinners to submit and surrender totally and entirely in their hearts so that God can pardon them. The submission and surrender comes before forgiveness, the outflow or outward manifestation then comes which is the Christian life.
When I say "stop sinning" I do not mean that you must cease from sin for a week in order for God to forgive you. I simply mean that you must change your mind about sinning in order for God to forgive you, and then this change of mind will have an outward change of life. But forgiveness, and receiving Jesus, are two different things. Stopping sin comes before forgiveness, but stopping sin cannot come before receiving Jesus, since receiving Jesus is stopping sinning. Once a person receives Jesus (accepts Him as Lord) THEN God can forgive him. Repentance (a change of mind about sinning) comes before forgiveness but cannot come before receiving Jesus. Receiving Jesus (making Him Lord of your life) must come before forgiveness. So a person changes their mind about sinning and makes Jesus their Lord BEFORE God pardons them. Your question, "Does a person have to stop sinning to Receive Jesus?" makes no sense, because receiving Jesus is stopping sinning, and stopping sinning is receiving Jesus. You cannot make these two separate events, one coming before the other one. They are precisely the same event.  Jesse

“Sinners can stop sinning of their own free will. But sinners are unwilling to do so. Therefore God must influence them through the Holy Spirit to stop sinning. God must graciously influence sinners, by presenting truth to their minds, or else sinners would never stop sinning. Therefore GOD is the one who gets us to stop sinning, but we still do so by our own free will. It is not "either, or" it is "both, and". When a sinner stops sinning, He does so by his own free choice under the influence of God.” Jesse

"Motives of the will always come before outward actions. Acts of sin are nothing more than an outflow of a sinful motive. The essence of sin is selfishness. The law requires benevolence towards God and man. The law requires that we will the highest well-being of all, supremely of God and equally towards our neighbor. Any action done with a motive other than benevolence is sinful, because it is a violation of the moral law of God which requires benevolence." Jesse  (thus, Everything is sin until you are Saved)

"If a person stops drinking or smoking, for selfish reasons, then this is sinful. Their motive is still violating the law of God. Sinners who stop drinking or smoking, with selfish reasons, are not stopping their sinning, they are just redirecting their selfishness. The person who gives money to the poor to make himself feel good, and the person who hires a prostitute to make himself feel good, are equally wicked because they are both acting selfishly. Therefore they are both violating the law of God, which requires benevolence towards God and towards others. Jesus said that if men do outward acts of righteousness to be seen of men, they are still inwardly full of iniquity. Outward actions have no moral character independent of the inward motive of the heart."  Jesse

"A sinner stops sinning when they stop living for themselves and they start living for the glory of God and the well-being of their neighbor. A moral being stops sinning when they are no longer selfish in their motives but are benevolent. Only Christians actually stop sinning. Sinners never stop sinning, even if they quit smoking and drinking and cursing etc. They are still sinners because they are still living for themselves, because they are not doing these things for the glory of God and well-being of their neighbor. Sinners only stop sinning when they become Christians. Until they become Christians, all they do is become more and more sinful because the more they grow in knowledge and the more they grow in disobedience, the more sinful they become. Sinners do not stop growing in sinfulness until they are totally converted unto God, choosing to live for God's glory and the well-being of His universe."  Jesse

”Because of free will, men are capable of living for God and living for their neighbor instead of living for themselves. But they are unwilling to do so. At creation, God made them capable of being sinless by giving them a free will, but at conversion God makes them willing to be sinless by influencing them through the Gospel. The sinners problem is not inability but unwillingness. They want to live for themselves supremely. Because they don't have to be selfish, they are rightly subjected to punishment. But even though they are capable of living sinless, they are unwilling to be benevolent, and therefore they need the influence of God through the law and the gospel. The only way that a sinner will actually turn from selfishness to benevolence, deciding not to live for themselves anymore but to actually live for God and for their neighbor, is through the influence of the Holy Spirit presenting the truth of the law and the Gospel to their minds. Sinners never decide, by free will, to live for God and their neighbor except by the influence of God. Men need the law and the gospel. Not because they cannot obey God, but because they are unwilling to obey God. Therefore these must serve as moral influences upon their minds, to change their will from selfishness to benevolence. Sinners stop sinning only under the influence of God. The revelation of Jesus Christ, dying for our sins, is the most powerful moral influence that the Holy Spirit could ever present to our minds. It has been in light of the cross that men have been converted out of their selfishness to actually serve God and begin to love their fellow man. We love Him because He first loved us. It is the benevolence of God, as revealed at the cross, which begets benevolence in us towards God.” Jesse


The Above quotes are taken from a fundamental Street Preacher who rejects the fallacies of Original Sin, total depravity and moral transfer. Yet comparing his quote with that of RC Sproul (a hardcore Calvinist heretic!) we find the similarity rather disturbing!

The reason why man CANT choose God unless God FIRST chooses him is simply because man WONT choose God and we can NOT choose what we DON'T want --- So the problem with us and our ORIGINAL SIN is LOCATED according to Edwards at the WANT TO..." RC Sproul

"Because of free will, men are capable of living for God and living for their neighbor instead of themselves. BUT they are unwilling to do so." (Jesse)

"The sinners problem is NOT inability, but UNWILLINGNESS." (Jesse)

The Contradiction remains in both men. Man has 'free will' but can't exercise it unless God off-sets his 'unwillingness'

Again Jesse says, " The sinners problem is NOT inability but unwillingness. They want to live for themselves supremely. Because they DONT HAVE TO BE SELFISH, they are rightly subjected to punishment..." 

And in another place he explains, "Because of free will, men are CAPABLE of living for God and living for their neighbor INSTEAD of living for themselves. BUT they are unwilling to do so. At creation, God made them capable of being sinless by giving them a free will, but at conversion GOD MAKES THEM WILLING to be sinless by influencing them through the Gospel."

 So man has a free will but is UNWILLING to use it to choose anything but selfishness UNTIL he is totally converted, that is,
"until [sinners] become Christians, ALL they do is become more and more sinful because the more they grow in knowledge, the more they grow in disobedience, the more sinful they become. Sinners do NOT stop growing in sinfulness until they are totally converted unto God, choosing to live for God's glory and the well-being of His universe."

It seems to come down to this: man is able to live for God and neighbor, but is unwilling until he is "totally converted"...therefore...man has free will BUT is only able to use it in the context of SELF(ishness), until conversion...therefore...until 'total conversion' man lives wholly for self (all though he has alternative choice) and is rightly subjected to punishment for NOT choosing what he was unwilling to choose to begin with, that is, to love God and neighbor??? So, again, it looks as if we have opposites testifying to absolutes. Jesse says that man is NOT incapable of choosing God, but unwilling...why?...because they are totally selfish until 'God makes them willing' at conversion to be unselfish. So he retains the freedom of the will, but makes it clear that one cannot choose God until God chooses him. This is where the confusion arises...  Even man's Best efforts (in an unconverted state) are sinful or 'selfish'.

That would have to mean that the Prodigal Son, wallowing in the Pig Pen, 'selfishly' decided to return to the Father and be restored. How could ANYONE therefore Trust their own inclinations to Do what is Right if they could only act from selfish motives? Would Jesse say that 'God made them willing' ? I suppose he would have to. But why strip man of his Natural Ability, guided by a Moral Conscience (that God has placed in every man)  in order to get him 'Saved' in his sins?


My initial thought is basically this...I would agree that unconverted (natural) man is unconcerned regarding the things of God, that is, he (unconverted man) is living according to the flesh, therefore, carnally minded (i.e purposed), separated from God and abiding in a state of death. I see this condition being obtained when one knows to do right and does wrong, that is, they sin and willingly choose to suppress light and move towards darkness.

 I see the reversal of this through the CONVICTION of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8). When sinner is convicted by God of sin they must by necessity amend their ways and their doings, seek to clear themselves through repentance and cry to God for mercy. They must lay aside ALL filthiness and overflow of wickedness BEFORE they can receive the IMPLANTED WORD...I see this process CLEARLY taking place in Corinth (e.g 2 Co. 7:10-11) in true godly sorrow that works repentance leading to salvation, that is, the diligence, clearing of self, indignation, fear, vehement desire, zeal and vindication. This scripture clearly explains the mind, ,inclinations and desires ALL change in this process (metanonia) and MUST lead to an immediate change in conduct (conversion) if it is for real.

I also recognize this process of 2 Co. 7:10-11 to be in perfect harmony with Acts 15:9. If man is incapable of any good prior to conversion (because of unwillingness to do what is right and depraved) then it makes me question what is written regarding Cornelius in Acts 10 & 11. How could he be a devout God fearing man, who gave alms and always praying BEFORE he received Baptism of Holy Spirit with Peter? How could Peter say:

"In TRUTH I perceive that God shows NO partiality. But in every nation WHOEVER fears Him an works righteousness is accepted by Him..." (Acts 10:34-35)???

 This also takes me to Christ continual call to discipleship:  "Then he said to them ALL, 'If ANYONE desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Lk. 9:23) " He who does NOT take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me" (Matt. 10:38)

 I see God Calling and Drawing all men to Himself and is not willing any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9)  This is Universal going out to all mankind if they will SEEK Him! (which of course requires some sort of human ability) If he were naturally 'unwilling' to Seek and had to be somehow further compelled (beyond that which is ALREADY compelling everyone) how is he Free to Choose?

 So a person hears the Real Message of Repentance, is then convicted by his conscience he must choose to forsake his vile sins, then enters a Season of godly sorrow where a Clearing and Vehement desire change takes place and finally results in full Justification. The Spirit of God is now able to enter into a CLEAN Vessel made Pure by a Working Faith!


Back to our Original Premise: "When Does the Sin Stop?"

Jesse says the Sin Stops When a Person 'Receives' Jesus. It all happens simultaneously, in his mind. He seems hung up on the 'Stopping' part by suggesting we mean a person must Stop sinning for a few days, week, month, (whatever) BEFORE he Comes to God and Repents. However I am more concerned with Ability here. Stopping Sinful conduct to a vital part of Real Repentance. I see it happening in the PROCESS of the godly sorrow and Clearing BEFORE Justification can take place!

Although we appear to be practically on the same page here, as purely a matter of semantics, I am convinced that Jesse's Message of Repentance (although better than most today in the system) is MUCH more widely accepted in the System than ours. It could be mainly because he fails to Pull Down many of the Strongholds of false Doctrine and expose the false teachers as wolves in sheep's clothing. With the exception of Calvinism, he entirely neglects the glaring errors of the so-called holiness reformers and wholly embraces MANY of the present day pundits who promote the saved in sin message. (Disturbing indeed!)

Therefore Jesse has Disconnected the Sin Stopping with the Process and retreated to the Straw Man argument that Man is incapable of doing anything but Sin until he is fully converted. He agrees that a person can stop smoking, drinking, lying, porn watching, cussing, fornicating, drugs, molesting, etc, without coming to Christ, but it's only from his Self Centered Motives, therefore making it sin. (a sort of depravity without saying it) or is he saying this merely because he THINKS a person who stops these sins is trying to 'save himself'
(that's what we are constantly accused of) or does he really believe that the best efforts of person are still sinful, including any form of self sacrifice?

Jesse says sinners never stop sinning, meaning ( I think), if a sinner stops doing drugs so they can get a job, they are still sinful since the motive is SELF. Or if the Mom who finds out she is pregnant cold turkeys the smokes, there is still a motive of self involved and Christ excluded, therefore is it TOTALLY sinful. Even if a fireman runs back into a burning building to save a baby and dies in the attempt, did so out of some deep seated selfish motive to gain recognition as a hero. (foolishness! in my view) Man is perfectly capable of benevolent acts because he is created with FREE WILL! NOT to Save himself....but Because it's the RIGHT thing to Do!


This is why ( I think) Jesse and others have to CONNECT A TIME FRAME with the stopping of sin. To them stopping sin is IMPOSSIBLE until conversion, so receiving Jesus is stopping sin (or willingness to stop)...this would also be why there seems to be an issue of WHEN THE SINS STOPS and WHEN ONE IS PARDONED. In their Minds we have the person saved on virtue of the merit involved in stopping his sin. In other words when the person stops drinking, smoking, fornicating, etc, they are automatically 'Saved'
BUT that's not what we are saying at all. It's Christ who does the Saving, but it's US who Does the REPENTING!

The Condition we all agree is: 'Repentance and Faith PROVEN by Deeds', in that Process the Sin Stops (Clearing) The argument is:
WHO Stopped it??? God or Man? ......OR is it a Synergy that CANNOT take place unless BOTH Sides of the Dynamic Function together to produce a Result not independently obtainable.(2Cor6:1)

The Critical factor in this argument, in my mind, is to retain the Free Will of man in its proper sense. We Can't rob God of His Glory in the the Salvation of Sinners or limit His Sovereign Power. But we also Cannot limit man's ability to that of an insect. Man is a Self Aware being created by God, endowed with FULL freedom of will to Choose between Right and Wrong. His Right choices are simply that....a RIGHT Choice, whether made from some ulterior motive or just because it was the right thing to do. THAT makes him fully capable of Seeking God, Forsaking his vile sins in the process and crying out for Mercy to be Granted. (Just as the people of Nineveh Jonah 3:5-10) They certain Changed their Minds when they heard the Preaching of Jonah, but they ALSO STOPPED sinning in the process, BEFORE God relented and granted them Mercy. Christ used this as His example of Real Repentance in Gospel Preaching: Matt12:38-42, Lk11:29-30  (this should conclude any argument about true repentance)


 In Conclusion we have to stand aloof of Jesse and the many others who argue from his mind set. They may speak out strongly against sin and tell the people that it has to Stop, but it's highly disturbing that they continue to associate with the likes of Ray Comfort and others who CLEARLY Preach the Saved in Sin message. (rather than exposing them) So we cannot agree to disagree. The issues may seem trivial based on time frames and explanations, but it goes much deeper than that. Something is amiss when someone claims to reject the fallacies of Original Sin, Moral Transfer and Eternal Security, but FAILS to expose the Teachers promoting these deadly lies and worse considers them Brothers in the Faith! What could be behind such duplicity? (but something dark and sinister?)

If there is no ‘Original Sin’ inherited from Adam,  (which Jesse affirms) WHY Can’t man be also Willing to Come, since he is able? Where Did his ‘Unwillingness’ Come from, IF indeed he is BORN with the Ability? It Doesn’t fit the True Nature of God to Condemn a man for his Unwillingness, when HE has to MAKE them Willing by some kind of ‘Gracious Influence’! That’s saying man is condemned for not coming, because he is Unwilling, but God has to MAKE him willing or he will NEVER come to begin with! What is the Difference between that and what people like Comfort and Sproul are saying? ONLY the Original Sin, which Jesse denies.

Explain Please where the Unwillingness comes from if man is born free....

"You Can Come, but you Won’t, But how Can you until God Makes you? So your Condemned!"  It Doesn't make any sense! 
Man Must be BOTH Able and Willing when CONVICTED by the Spirit. And Since God is No Respecter of Persons, ALL MEN are Convicted Equally and Given a CHOICE to Come of their own Free Will. Therefore Gracious Influence smells of favoritism & Suggests that God Does the Choosing! Certainly God KNOWS WHO will Come when Called, But that doesn't mean that He makes the Choice for them. And the fact that God Knows in advance who will and who will not Come is NOT the deciding factor, since EVERY Man is under the same Divine influence.