Does God command sinners to humbly repent and stop sinning before he will have mercy on their souls?
There seems to be a deceptive movement lately. There are people teaching that God does not command all sinners to fully and humbly repent with the full acknowledgment to turn from and cease or stop all known sin in their lives before God will show mercy and blot out or wash away their past sins. These usually say that God simply wants us to "accept Him" or "turn our lives to Him", but yet their gospel message is void of teaching about genuine deep repentance that humbly and seriously examines one's life so that they will genuinely repent of all sin and walk in newness of life as they live to follow Jesus each and every day.
Let's look at a few things these people cry out, in order to try and defend their views, and let's also look at the Bible to find the full truth.
I. These people will cry out, "We're saved by GRACE, not works!"
All true Christians should be in 100% agreement with one another that we are saved by grace and not works. No one could work their way to please God for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We all are in desperate need of God's grace. It was by the sheer grace of God that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and be treated in complete humiliation as men spit upon Him, scorned and mocked Him, stripped Him, whipped Him, and nailed Him to a cross. Why would God in His grace allow such a vile thing to happen to His only begotten Son? It's because He loved this world so much that He wanted to provide a way of salvation for the few who would come to Him in true faith by turning from their ways of sin and self and living to follow Him.
God knew that apart from His perfect Son's shed blood, that no man could stand before a holy God, and that all would perish in hell for their sins. But by the grace of God, Jesus provided a way of escape from hell and a way to the Father! All true Christians should be in perfect agreement, that it is only by God's wondrous grace we are saved, for apart from Jesus' precious redeeming blood we would have no hope of salvation. This is the amazing grace of God, that He sent His Son to provide a way of salvation.
The deception behind this matter is that there are people who want to teach that God's grace means that God does not expect us to humbly repent of all known sin in order to have our sins washed away by Jesus' redeeming blood. They'll say this is a 'works gospel.' How far it is from the truth, to call obeying a gracious command from the Lord to repent of all known sin in our lives a 'works gospel.' These people have a deceptive 'grace message' where God does not teach and command for all men to turn from all known evil (forsake sin), and follow Him. They have a counterfeit deceiving grace message that merely covers over sin. They have the perverted grace message as Jude warns about in Jude 3,4 which tells us that ungodly men will creep in and pervert the grace of God to allow for lewdness and sin. Friends, if you hear a 'grace message' that does not command sinners to humbly repent and forsake all known sin and live to follow after Jesus, close your ears to it! But let's not just stop there, but let us also contend earnestly for the faith and expose their lies with the truth of Scripture so these lies might be exposed in order that they do not lead others astray on the wide path of destruction with this counterfeit grace gospel message.
What does the TRUE grace of God teach us? The true grace of God is taught about clearly in Titus 2:11-12 and tells us that the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, and that the true grace of God teaches men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts (this means to come broken before God in true humble repentance with full admission to end all sinful ways), and to live godly, soberly, and righteously in the present age. (This means to continue each day on the narrow path of following Jesus and shunning all evil.)
II. These people cry out "We're saved by FAITH ALONE!"
These are people who seek to imply that faith is synonymous with simple belief. They imply that faith is simply believing and do not earnestly convey that the clear evidence of a true saving faith is a transformed born-again life that has forsaken sin and lives to follow after the Lord.
James warns about these teachers and tells us that if our faith has no works it is dead. A genuine saving faith is not mere "head knowledge belief", but will be evidenced by the works of God seen clearly in our lives. Genuine saving faith will also be seen in someone's life because their life will be centered around God and His will. Hebrew chapter 11 gives clear strong examples of what a true and genuine saving faith really looks like in the life of a true believer.
The evidence of God living inside our hearts and lives will be seen as we continue to walk in the Spirit and shun all ways of evil and choose to honor God with our life. True faith in a person's life will cause them to walk in His holiness and seek to share His love and compassion with all others. This is evidence of a true saving faith.
So instead of listening to smooth talking teachers who teach a dead faith, let's examine our lives as God's Word teaches. Let us make sure we have a true saving faith as evidenced by a born again way of life that ceases in ways of sin and lives to follow after Him each and every day.
III. These people will cry out "All we need to do is BELIEVE - Look at John 3:16!"
It's amazing how these people seem to know all of the verses that at first glance provides an 'easy believe gospel', but yet they want to ignore so many other verses that teach very differently and give us the complete picture of the true Gospel message.
In other words, these are people who want to pull out a few verses here and there that tickle people's ears with half-truths, while ignoring all of the important warnings and serious teachings of God's Word. They share a very distorted view of the Bible instead of the full counsel of God and they lead many on the path to delusion and destruction.
Let's take John 3:16 for example. If we look at that verse out of context, it seems to imply that a person only needs to 'believe', and they are guaranteed eternal life. But yet these people want to skip the verse that teaches that even the devil believes! (James 2:19) They also want to only dwell on John 3:16 and not continue to read the following verses in the rest of that chapter which tells us....
John 3:17-21....." (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (19) And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. (20) For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (21) But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God"
So as we continue to read the following few verses after John 3:16, we get a clearer idea of what true belief in God really is. A person who truly claims to believe in God does not just acknowledge mental consent for even the devil believes in God and trembles. But rather, a TRUE believer is one who TURNS from sin/darkness and comes to the LIGHT where his deeds can be clearly seen that they are not deeds of sin/darkness, but deeds that glorify God and shine for holiness, righteousness, and true purity. True believers live to follow after God's commands and walk in obedience to Him.
IV. These people will cry out "Where are the verses that teach that God commands sinners to stop in all ways of sin in order to be saved and washed clean so as to have their sins blotted out?"
A. All the true holy prophets of the OLD TESTAMENT taught that God commands sinners to cease in sinful ways or they will not be saved from punishment/hell/wrath. Here are a few examples:
1. MOSES gave MANY warnings from God to stop disobedience/sin, and obey the Lord:
Deut. 11:26 "Today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse- 27 a blessing, if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28 but a curse, if you disobey these commands and turn away to worship other gods that you have never worshiped before.' "
Deut. 28:13-14 "The Lord your God will make you the leader among the nations and not a follower; you will always prosper and never fail if you obey faithfully all his commands that I am giving you today. But you must never disobey them in any way, or worship and serve other gods."
Deut. 28:45 "All these disasters will come on you, and they will be with you until you are destroyed because you did not obey the Lord your God and keep all the laws that he gave you. They will be the evidence of God's judgment on you and your descendants forever. The Lord blessed you in every way, but you would not serve him with glad and joyful hearts. So then, you will serve the enemies that the Lord is going to send against you. You will be hungry, thirsty, and naked-in need of everything. The Lord will oppress you harshly until you are destroyed."
Deut. 30:9-10 "The Lord will make you prosperous in all that you do; you will have many children and a lot of livestock, and your fields will produce abundant crops. He will be as glad to make you prosperous as he was to make your ancestors prosperous, 10 but you will have to obey him and keep all his laws that are written in this book of his teachings. You will have to turn to him with all your heart."
2. DAVID taught that if he regarded iniquity in his heart that God would not hear him. (Psalm 66:18)
3. SOLOMON taught that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. (Proverbs 8:13)
4. ISAIAH taught that men must end their sinful ways and only then God will have mercy on them and wash them white as snow. He will keep them white as snow IF they are willing and obedient, but IF they turn and rebel, they will endure the Lord's punishment.
Isaiah 1:15-20 - "When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless; plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, says the LORD, Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
5. EZEKIEL teaches that those who don't repent and stop their ways of sin will die (perish in hell.)
Ezekiel 18:26-32 - “If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. Yet the house of Israel says, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!"
Ezekiel 33:11 - “Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'
6. JONAH preaches to the people in Nineveh and the people know to turn from all evil.
Jonah 3:8 - “Let every person turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” (and vs. 10) “Then God saw that they turned their evil way and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them.”
7. ZECHARIAH preached the Lord's strong warning for the people to turn from their evil ways.
Zechariah 1:3-4 - “Return to Me says the Lord of hosts and I will return to you. Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts; turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.' But they did not hear nor heed Me,' says the Lord.”
B. All the true holy prophets of the NEW TESTAMENT taught that God commands sinners to repent and cease in their sin or they will not be saved from punishment/hell/wrath. Here are a few examples:
1. JOHN THE BAPTIST refused to baptize those who came to him to be baptized until they sincerely and humbly repented by truly committing to turn from evil/stop sin and live in true holiness.
Luke 3:7-14 - In these verses, John the Baptist refers to those desiring to be baptized as a brood of vipers and told them they must have fruits worthy of true repentance for all who do not bear good fruits will be cut down and thrown into the fire (hell). The people asked what they should do, and John the Baptist told the tax collectors to stop stealing, and soldiers to stop lying and intimidating others etc.
2. JESUS in His love perpetually warned those who would listen to Him to turn from sin through true repentance and to sin no more.
John 8:11 - “...And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
Luke 12:35-48 - In this parable Jesus teaches that men need to always be prepared and not to return to sinful ways for we never know when the master (Jesus) will return to us, and if we have returned to ways of sin such as drunkenness and abusing others, we won't be spending eternity with the Lord, but instead the Lord will appoint us a place with the hypocrites and unbelievers at that time.
3. PETER taught that unless a man repents and is converted he will not have his sins blotted out.
Acts 3:19 - “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out....”
4. PAUL teaches that men must turn from wickedness or they will know God's wrath.
Romans chapter 2 - This chapter describes how men can see that God exists because of the magnificence of creation and should automatically know to love, glorify, and fear Him and turn from wickedness. Yet men became futile in their minds and decided to worship the creature instead of the Creator, and their foolish hearts were darkened. They were full of lust, full of all terrible forms of sexual immorality, were wicked, malicious, full of envy, murder, deceit etc. Paul warns that these will NOT escape the Judgment of God. God is full of long-suffering, goodness, and forbearance in hopes that men will repent. Yet men have hard and impenitent hearts and are treasuring up God's wrath unless they sincerely repent by stopping in all their ways of sin! God is not partial, and all those who patiently continue in doing good and not evil will gain eternal life, but those who are self-seeking and unrighteous will know God's great wrath.
5. JOHN taught that if we confess our sins that the Lord will be faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (When we truly confess, we have the full intention to stop these sins and evil ways, and then we know that God will forgive us and cleanse us from our past sins. If we say that we have not sinned before then we are lying and need to confess.)
1 John 1:9 - “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 3:6-9 - “Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin because he has been born of God.”
Revelations 2:5 / 2:16 / 2:22 / 3:3 / 3:19 - These verses all teach that until men repent (stop the specific sins listed in these verses), that God will not forgive them. But if they do repent (stop in their sinful ways), then God will have great mercy and forgive.
There are just so many verses that clearly tell us that God commands us to obey His gracious call to sincerely repent which is evidenced by those who turn from sin
and live to follow Him. I will share many of these verses here:
Here are a few Scriptures that teach that God saves us after we humbly and sincerely repent of all known sin:
2 Chronicles 7:14 "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
Jeremiah 4:14 "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?"
James 1:21 "Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
Ezekiel 33:11 "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Exodus 23:7 "Keep thee far from a false matter; and the innocent and righteous slay thou not: for I WILL NOT JUSTIFY THE WICKED."
Isaiah 55:7 "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
Ezekiel 18:31 "Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
Acts 3:19 "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
Isaiah 1:16 "Wash yourself, make yourself clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil..."
Proverbs 28:13 "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."
Jonah 3:10 "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
Ezekiel 18:21 "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die."
Proverbs 17:15 "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are an abomination to the LORD."
Ezekiel 3:19-20 "Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand."
As we can clearly read from the list of scripture verses above, God lets us know that people need to repent and only then can they know the confidence that the Lord has washed them clean with His precious redeeming Blood and blotted out all their past sins! God commands us to 'sin no more' from this time on but if we might stumble and sin and truly confess, the Lord will be our propitiation and provide forgiveness. (1 John 2:1-2)
It is no wonder that the world is so full of evil in our day since there are very few preachers teaching genuine repentance which involves that men humbly come broken before God and cease from all known willful sin in their lives. Yet many deceptive teachers are calling this a 'works salvation' and that God does not command us to stop in our ways of sin to know true salvation. We must beware of these deceiving teachers who lead men into delusion and confusion.
As Jeremiah 23:16 warns us concerning deceptive teachers: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; they speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of the Lord. They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The Lord has said you shall have peace', and to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, 'No evil shall come upon you.' “ and as Jeremiah 23:32 tells us: “Behold... I am against those who cause my people to err by their lies and by their recklessness...”
Please friends, out of love for men's souls, let us warn men to cease in their sinful lives and to open their lives to only abiding and following Jesus in total obedience. We must also expose all false teachers who teach that we don't need to repent of sin to know God's salvation. We need to do this for these teachers are causing men to fall prey to a counterfeit gospel in which they won't come to genuine repentance and it is possible that these men will be with the group that Jesus warned of in Matthew 7:21-23.....
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
One Final Warning:
There are a few people who claim that repentance is a "work" that causes us to have a "works salvation". Repentance isn't an outward work, but rather it is a state of the heart caused by the conviction of the Holy Spirit upon hearing the Word of God taught to us. The RESULTS of true repentance then LEAD to outward works of walking with the Lord in righteousness, having the fruits of the Spirit etc. Repentance and Faith are two sides of the same coin. If one side is MISSING, then you have a COUNTERFEIT on your hands. Repentance is commanded all throughout the Bible so please beware of people wanting to deceive us about it and stand firm in God's truths.
Article by F. A. Butler
The dear Lord let us know that Christians would be rejected and hated by the world. Yet never lose your hope and keep trusting in our faithful Lord!
As Christians, when we share about God's truths, we will many times be hated for it just as we are so often hated when we share the Gospel with people or when we contend for the faith. It doesn't matter how kind and patient we are - we just have to accept the fact that people will condemn, belittle, and loathe us many times. But praise God when the few awaken and come to see the light of truth! Just ONE person who can see the light of truth makes all of our hard work worth the pain and suffering we must endure so often. We can thank the dear Lord that nothing we do for Him is in vain!
"I was saved only after I forsook my sins"......The testimony of Patricia White
I was very inspired when I read Patricia White's testimony. She made it clear that the wonderful grace of God was leading her to truth, but she also made it clear that God's grace taught her to forsake ungodliness, all known sins, and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, just as we are taught about clearly in Titus 2:11-12. Thanks for letting me share your testimony sister Patti, and I hope it might help lead others to the fullness of truth in understanding what true salvation and true saving faith are all about.
Patricia White's Testimony......
Many years ago, I became aware that the Spirit of God was drawing me to Himself. At that time I was deeply involved in the occult, a practitioner of magic and divination. I knew not the Lord, nor His Word, yet I understood that I needed Jesus, that I was dead and needed the life, and that life could be found in Him. I became desperate for the Lord, wishing only to find Him. (Jeremiah. 29:13)
There were times it seemed He was close to me and I could experience a moment of His peace, and then it was gone and I was left alone desperate for a touch again of Christ and His love. (Hos 2:14) I knew without a doubt that I must forsake the wickedness I was involved in and truth be told, at that point I could have cared less about anything except to know God. (Psalm 42:1) My desire for truth became paramount and days were spent in prayer and tears. I picked up the Bible and had faith in what I was reading, where in the past I did not. (Romans 10:17) It was through this period of repentance and faith in Jesus and His Word, that I received His Holy Spirit. (Acts 5:32) I was changed from the inside out. I was filled with the peace of God, joy and His life. The world became dead to me. I was driven, it seems, to the Word of God in hunger and need. I lost family and friends for my choice, yet I knew God was with me and I was not alone. (2 Cor. 5:17)
I share this all by way of testimony – that I was saved only after I forsook my sins. Even though I knew nothing, I knew there was no way God would have accepted me while I was a charmer, a consulter of familiar spirits, a wizard or a necromancer. I repented of this sin and others and was accepted in the beloved. In the days that followed, as I continued to read the scriptures and pray, I understood there were other things in me that were not of God and repentance was ongoing as revealed. (God will reveal sins of ignorance which we will repent of as God reveals them to us through His Word etc, but God clearly teaches us to humbly repent of all known sins in our life before He will save us.)