The Heart of the Matter!
Does a person have to STOP Sinning to Receive Jesus as Savior? This is the question that has opened the flood gates to the very heart of Satan’s Deception sweeping the present day church. The Doctrine of Repentance from sin and Faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ is the fundamental issue of New Testament preaching. It is where initial Salvation begins in the human soul and Regeneration Works to bring man out from under the corrupting influence of sin. Inoperative Repentance (much like dead faith) renders Salvation null and void and creates a ‘System’ where people can be pronounced Righteous while they remain sinful.
To our dismay the overwhelming response to the question above from a cross section of main stream churches has been a resounding ‘NO’! (Approx 250 Responses!) Or simply, “NO, you DO NOT have to STOP sinning to Receive Jesus as Savior.” On the Contrary almost everyone argued IN FAVOR of sin, not for Righteousness. (or right conduct subsequent to salvation) Sin was the Foregone Conclusion from the Start! Let us examine the Ramifications of this hasty answer. First we did not ask if a person Has to become ‘Righteous’ before he can receive Jesus as Savior, but merely focused on the sin question. That which separates man from God. Therefore the NATURAL response SHOULD have been a discussion of Biblical Repentance, NOT an argument in favor of sin!
Also we did not ask if a person must merely ‘Forsake’ his sins to Receive Jesus or even be ‘Willing’ to forsake them. That should too should be assumed by ANYONE who understands the dynamic of genuine repentance in the Bible. Consequently THEY should either use that kind of language in their explanation or ASK what Exactly do we mean, STOP and What SINS are you Talking about?
However, the manner in which the Spirit chose to give us this question has lead to this discovery. Because it has UNCOVERED their TRUE feelings on the matter! Without question or consideration of the ramifications behind their words, they have GRANTED Permission to CONTINUE in sin! How can we make such an accusation without further discussion on the matter? Mainly for the following reasons:
1) The answers contained no indication of a heart willingness to forsake all KNOWN sin or make amends for that sin. Therefore no vindication is present in their understanding of repentance
2) Everyone seems to ‘Believe’ that the forsaking or ‘stopping’ of sin happens after repentance and receiving Jesus. Not during the PROCESS of godly sorrow for sin, brokenness of will and zealousness to CLEAR ones self of all wrong doing.
3) NO ONE asked any further questions concerning the matter. They merely assumed that Salvation happened by ‘Receiving’ Jesus into the heart and then the ‘Cleaning up’ process could begin.
Certainly we can all agree that a ‘Willingness’ to forsake sin is a Far Cry from Actually forsaking it. A person could be willing to stop stealing, but is still doing it. It is ONLY in a STOPPING of the stealing that any amends can be made, the conscience cleared and forgiveness granted. The husband who is ‘willing’ to forsake his adultery but won’t actually CUT the ties to the other woman, has absolutely NO sincerely whatsoever to REPENT to his wife and restore his broken marriage. Neither then can a person receive Forgiveness from God on these terms. Since God looks on the heart, the INTENTIONS MUST be Clear! He CANNOT Grant Pardon to the soul Severing TWO Masters.
Granting forgiveness while the soul is still in the clutches of sinful bondage would only lead to further rebellion and ‘permission’ to KEEP on sinning under Grace. (Which is forbidden, Rom6:15) Certainly the Holy Spirit is given at initial Salvation to ‘empower’ the soul to godliness, self-control and obedience to the truth. BUT the sin STOPPED BEFORE this happened, not after! (otherwise it is NOT given)
If you can come to God, Receive forgiveness and the Holy Spirit while your soul remains in bondage to sin that translates into ‘Christian’ adulterers, drunkards, drug addicts, child molesters, liars, cheats, thief’s, ect! (of which the churches are full of!) Since we only asked does ‘SIN’ in General have to STOP, not a specific sin, the door is WIDE OPEN to any of these things. Remember, NO ONE asked us what KIND of sin we were talking about!
We could rephrase the question and ask does a person have to Stop ‘Committing adultery’ to be forgiven of adultery? BUT it’s the SAME question when you boil it down to what’s being said here. WHY? Because they are making NO Distinction as to the manner of sin! Just that Jesus will forgive, if you Receive, apologize for the sin, but NOT actually forsake it.
Thus the moral dilemma in our churches and society can be traced DIRECTLY to this fact. People are being lead to Christ, pronounced forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit, while they remain addicted to immorality, pornography, drugs and other vile behavior. And this is happening across the board. No Denomination is exempt, regardless of doctrinal stance on holiness, imputed righteousness or eternal security. The answers reflect that this poison has spread into everyone’s understanding of Repentance and Salvation by faith. They come across into the Kingdom ‘Believing’ that it’s now God’s responsibility to clean them up. That He will some how ‘CHANGE’ their desires away from the pornography, drugs, sex and alcohol. But in the meantime they will wallow in these things and attend addiction classes at church, buy books and tapes, go to seminars and learn to cope with their carnality.
The problem is that this supposed ‘Clean up’ NEVER happens! They just keep getting worse as the carnality grains control of their entire being. They sin with impunity, already forgiven, without fear of Condemnation, so the conscience soon becomes hardened to the Convicting power of the Holy Spirit and they are given over to their lust. Had they experienced a genuine Godly Sorrow for sin, Brokenness of spirit, will submitted to Christ at initial Repentance, there may be some HOPE that the Regeneration process could very well WORK from within and KEEP them from further defilement.
But coming over in your sins requires no CLEARING, VINDICATION or ZEAL to make Amends. This translates into NO REPENTANCE, According to the Scriptures.
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 2Cor7:10-11
Does anything in this Scripture even slightly suggest that it’s God’s responsibility to clean you up? Didn’t John the Baptist tell the people to ‘Lay the Axe to the ROOT of sin!’ ? When you CUT out the Roots the WHOLE Tree is destroyed and must be REPLANTED to live again! Isn’t that the illustration of True Repentance? Zacchaeus restored FOURFOLD what he taken from the people and gave HALF his goods to the poor besides, BEFORE the Lord announced his Salvation. (Luke19:1-10)
This Pattern follows throughout the Scriptures, from the Prophets to the Apostles:
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. Isa55:7
But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Ezk18:21
This is NOT a matter of God Requiring perfection before forgiveness can be granted, but it is HIS pattern of Repentance and TURNING from sin. How could there possibly be Justice and Reconciliation in the Divine Nature if God were merely to Grant forgiveness while man is still in rebellion against Him?
You need look no further than your local churches to see the RESULTS of Pardon granted WITHOUT abandoning sin. Imagine a human Judge pardoning a condemned criminal while standing before him with the smoking gun still in his hand, anxious to kill again when given the opportunity!
Yet that is EXACTLY the kind of Pardon or forgiveness we are seeing communicated in the answer to our question. Repentance has been reduced to a mere apology for sin, without godly sorrow or vindication of any sort.
God Receives you addicted, fills you with His Spirit and grants you pardon for your sinful condition. Even though you have made NO EFFORT to STOP the sin (which is perfectly within your power to do so!) or even a willingness to abandon it!
I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds! Acts26:20
Perhaps this horrible distortion of Truth stems from man’s flawed reasoning of ability or inability to do anything RIGHT without God’s help. Why else would the vast majority of church leaders be saying that you Receive Forgiveness ‘IN’ your sins instead of ‘FROM’ them? Here are a few examples:
“Jesus takes us where we are (adultery, lying, stealing, language, pride, greed, etc.), forgives us, changes us and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. “ Pastor Dave, First Church of the Nazarene.
the only thing a person has to receive Jesus is pray and ask him to come into your heart. (John 3:16)
No, Christ takes care of your sin all Himself! He will give you the power to choose to stop sinning AFTER you have received Him. He changes your desires as you allow Him to do it. There are NO requirements to receive Christ. Not before or after. Only sincerity. Alaska District Church of the Nazarene
A false belief and lie of Satan is that you have to clean yourself up and somehow be "good enough" before accepting Christ. It is sinners that Christ died for and every one of us is a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Pastor Brent
No, we are incapable of stopping sin before we receive Christ (take a look at Romans 7:14 - 8:2)...this occurs only through the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
I have been asked to respond to your question. A simple answer
would be "No," but that needs qualification. Even if you had asked, "Will a
person stop sinning after receiving Christ?" the answer would still be "No," yet
also with a qualification. Zenas J. Bicket, past-Chairman Doctrinal Purity
Assemblies of God
The answer to this is quite simple. No. Let me explain why. 'Sin' means 'Disobedience against God', and as human beings, following the fall in the Garden of Eden, it is part of our very nature. When one becomes a Christian you don't stop sinning. Homerton Baptist Church
If you have no desire to STOP sinning at the beginning, HOW is the Spirit of God going to CONVICT you to do so later? You are ALREADY Forgiven (and filled with the Holy Spirit) There is Absolutely no incentive or motivation to Stop or ANYTHING to further Convict your conscience that your behavior is not acceptable to God. The Convicting Power of the Holy Spirit is MOST powerful DURING the PROCESS of Godly Sorrow, Brokenness and Repentance. The Sin MUST STOP DURING This time, not AFTER, or the Spirit will NEVER be Given and then NOTHING can hold back the flesh from further transgression.
The Whole tenor of Scripture speaks of this Vital Truth: “But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds. Jer23:22. Instead they Cry ‘Peace, Peace, when there is no Peace! And ‘Dress the wound of the people as though it was not serious!’ Jer6:14. NOTHING in all the Scripture is Inconsistent with this Process of Forsaking Sinful Conduct BEFORE Forgiveness can be Granted!
Is it any wonder why so FEW are coming OUT of their sins? They were pronounced Saved, Forgiven and Filled ‘IN’ them, what could Convince them now that God is dissatisfied with their behavior and will hold them ‘accountable’ for it? The Die is Cast, Guilt has been removed and with NO Spirit present NOTHING can hold back the flood gates of iniquity. This is the reason the Preachers Won’t and Can’t Condemn sinful behavior happening in their churches. HOW can they indict anyone for sins they ALLOWED into the Kingdom in the first place!? It’s God’s responsibility to clean them up and who can interfere?
Admonishing their behavior would only discourage them, impose unfounded guilt and make them feel unloved. Thus the Process of Conviction is neutralized and every sermon only serves to insulate them further in their delusion.
Repentance is CLEARLY Defined in the pages of Scripture and with VIVID Example. It implies that a measure of Divine Wisdom is communicated to the sinner (by the Holy Spirit) and that it makes him ‘wise’ unto Salvation. In godly sorrow and deep anguish of soul his Mind, Purposes, Opinions and Inclinations are CHANGED and in consequence there is a TOTAL CHANGE in his Conduct! In true Repentance the penitent sees his soul exposed to hell and himself unfit for heaven, FORSAKES his sin with all Zeal, not only because it has been ruinous to his soul but also because it has been offensive to God.
This is a Radical Departure from a ‘Confession’ or ‘Apology’ for being Sinful that is being passed off as Repentance by today’s pastors. The WHOLE NATURE or True Repentance is LOST and there is NO possibility of an Obedience heart made Pure by Faith WORKING by Love! If the Foregone conclusion is SIN (continued in thought, word and deed for the rest of your life!) NOTHING under the Sun is going to CHANGE the person’s DESIRES (or inclinations) and Free them from the Bondage of sin.