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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Can a lost sinner stop sinning?

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Joined: 2006/4/13
Posts: 58
South Central Kentucky

 Can a lost sinner stop sinning?

I would like to hear everyone's perspective on this. Is a lost sinner in such bondage to sin, that he can't stop sinning unless he becomes Born Again? Or can he stop sinning and does he just need to put his faith in Christ and become Born Again in order to be saved (go to Heaven)? I know this has the possibility of turning into a Calvinistic/Arminian debate...but I hope it doesn't. One stipulation if you are going to participate: please back up EVERYTHING you say with Scripture. NO opinions please...thanks and I look forward to seeing what everyone has to say!

Kerrigan Skelly

 2006/8/22 21:33Profile

Joined: 2004/9/28
Posts: 957
Cleveland, Georgia

 Re: Can a lost sinner stop sinning?

Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to post the Scriptures as you asked:

You must repent to be saved:

Ezek 18:30b Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.

Luke 5:32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 13:3b and 5b except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Luke 15:7 and 10 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance...Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

Acts 3:19a Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out

Acts 17:30b commandeth all men every where to repent

Acts 20:20-21 I...have taught you publickly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:19-20 I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God

Repentance must be granted by God, though:

John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

Acts 11:18b Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

2 Tim 2:25b if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth

I think Paris Reidhead says it best to not try to figure out the "why" that is stated in Scripture, but rather just understand the "that" stated in Scripture.

We should preach, we should pray, God bringing the increase. Anyone who claims to understand grace worked in the heart by the Holy Ghost to 100% accuracy is either much more intimate with God than everyone on this site, or they are just guessing.

God chooses who are His:

John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you

...then He draws them:

John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him

...through the preaching of repentance and the cross:

Luke 24:47 repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations

But clearly the Holy Ghost can be resisted:

Acts 7:51b ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

This does not discount the foreknowledge and predestination of God's elect:

Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will

Nor does it discount the freedom we are given to reject God:

Rom 1:24 and 26 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

So my take on all this is that God sovereignly chooses a man (John 15:16), but the man is free to resist the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51). But God has knowledge of everything that will come to pass ahead of time. If the decision was 100% God's and nothing of ours, why would there be a judgment? If the decision was 100% ours, and nothing of God's, you have a God that is not in control.

God always does His part, if man chooses not to do His, and accept the free invitation into God's family, he will burn for eternity. But the Father is not anxious, neither was Christ during His ministry because:

2 Tim 2:19a Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.

Concerning who will be numbered with the saved /lost: He knows, we don't.

Spurgeon put it best (paraphrased), when he said, 'God call out your elect. And then elect some more.' As well as, 'On the gates of heaven, we will see the words "whosoever will." But then, looking back after passing through, will see "the elect of God" on the inside.'

Hal Bachman

 2006/8/22 23:02Profile

Joined: 2005/11/2
Posts: 3708


How do we know what to repent of if we don't have the Mind of Christ because we believe. Our old mind is the mind of Satan. He don't care if we repent or not. When we believe and are born again then our repentance is directed by the Holy Spirit and The Mind of Christ that is now ours.

Hab 1:5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for [I] will work a work in your days, [which] ye will not believe, though it be told [you].

Luk 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

Jhn 3:12 If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things?

In believing by the power of the Holy Spirit we are saved and then can repent be baptized, but not before the birthing of Christ in the believer.

John 3:14-19 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

In Christ: Phillip


 2006/8/22 23:15Profile

Joined: 2006/6/12
Posts: 524


Can a "lost" sinner stop sinning?

You're kidding, right? :)

 2006/8/22 23:36Profile

Joined: 2006/4/13
Posts: 58
South Central Kentucky


Actually, mamaluk, I'm not. I said this on another MB:

Do you believe that a lost sinner can stop sinning? My understanding of what the Word says is that they are slaves to sin. The only thing that can give them the ability to live a Holy life is for them to Repent, put their Faith in Christ and become Born Again. Then the Spirit enables them to live a Holy Life...

And then a friend of mine posted this in response to what I said:

Yes a sinner is capable of stopping his sin. That is why God "commands all men everywhere to repent."

God only commands the possible. He doesn't require apples from peach trees. He doesn't cut down and burn peach trees for not bearing apples.

But his stopping his sin does not justify him before God. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord" and also, without the Lord, no man shall see holiness.

Though a sinner is capable of not sinning, which is why God punishes him, he needs the cross of Jesus Christ to have a right legal standing with God, for the forgiveness of the sins he willfully choose to commit.

But yes, a sinner does not have to sin.

John Fletcher really hammers this in his "Checks to Antinomianism".

He tells a story about a traveler going to a country.

On the road he sees a carriage driving by full of gold that says, "Free Inheritance!".

He asks a man on the road about the carriage and the man says, "Oh, our Lord gives away a free inheritance every day to a random person. He is so good, that he gives it away freely without conditions, upon the person he chooses."

A few minutes later, another carriage drives by with man locked in chains. The carriage says, "Free execution". He asks the same man about this carriage and the man says, "Oh, our Lord is so just, that every day he picks somebody to execute."

The man says, "Well, do the men do anything to deserve this execution?"

The other man says, "Oh yes. They very much deserve it indeed. You see, when they were small children, the Lord has the parents break the legs of the child and not allow them to heal. And now that they are full grown, the Lord asks them to run a race, and when they fail to run the race, the Lord has them executed."

So...I wanted to see what others thought of this concept...

Kerrigan Skelly

 2006/8/23 0:27Profile

Joined: 2006/4/13
Posts: 58
South Central Kentucky


letsgetbusy...I appreciate your long and detailed response. I believe you bring a very balanced view from Scripture. You and me have very similar theology!

Kerrigan Skelly

 2006/8/23 0:30Profile

Joined: 2004/5/25
Posts: 96

 Re: Can a lost sinner stop sinning?

As best I can tell he a sinner may be able to stop himself from having some physical manifestations of sin(pharisees) or even "blameless" according to the law(PAUL(Phi 3:1-6) though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless.")

but the sin which makes us condemned begins in the heart and as long as the heart is without God it is black with evil and though we may gain reprieve from physical sins God considers it to be only "white-washed walls"

(Rom 2:28-29) For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

So I dont believe you can stop sinning(in the sense that every act not done in faith is sin) until your heart has been radically transformed, wether we are totally depraved and God must do it or we have enough to be able to choose God is another subject and for one of those long 200 page (totally depraved vs almost totally depraved) topics ;)

anyways thats my 2c hope it made sense.



 2006/8/23 0:34Profile


Great thread brother Kerrigan!

These are some very important questions!

Can a sinner stop sinning?

Does God command all men everywhere to repent when he knows that no sinner, anywhere is capable of repenting?

Does God send men to hell for failure to do the impossible?

 2006/8/23 0:49

Joined: 2005/7/20
Posts: 671
Los Angeles, California


The problem with many street or so called "holiness" preachers today is that they love to tell people that they have to stop sinning but never tell them how to do it. Thus they are just condemning and accusing and since that is the devils job they become co-workers of Satan. They love to condemn unregenerate wicked sinners for acting like unregenerate wicked sinners - which is exactly how they should and would be expected to act.

We can repent of our sins (say we are sorry and turn from our sins - change our mind towards sin) but we can never stop sinning with out the resurrection power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We can change our mind but God needs to change (circumcise) our heart. Some have a false idea that to repent means to stop sinning through the power of our own flesh. They tell people that they must repent and stop sinning, but they never tell them how. They are basically self-righteous who condemn sinners for acting like sinners. Jesus Christ beaks the bonds of sin not our own flesh breaks the bonds of sin. We must teach people what it means to die and be born again. If we do not die then we are still slaves to our sin nature. Many people who have views like your friend deny the doctrine of original sin in order to make their theology work. Ask your friend if he believe in original sin or not. To say that one can stop sinning in the flesh or on their own really mocks and denies the power and the Good News of the Gospel. To preach this Gospel just set ones up for failure and false conversion. These Scripture are a few of many that state things pretty clearly.

Romans 6
1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Romans 6
20When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. 21What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 7
14We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit
1Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

9You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

12Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." 16The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.

Patrick Ersig

 2006/8/23 1:30Profile

 Re: Can a lost sinner stop sinning?

I have posted this before but I think this clears things up.

Exact quote from Finney's Systematic Theology -- 1851 Edition Lecture 50

"It is true indeed that God requires of men, especially under the gospel, what they are unable to do directly in their own strength. Or more strictly speaking, he requires them to lay hold on His strength, or to avail themselves of His grace, as the condition of being what he requires them to be. With strict propriety, it cannot be said that in this, or in any case, he requires directly any more than we are able directly to do. The direct requirement in the case under consideration, is to avail ourselves of, or to lay hold upon his strength. This we have power to do. He requires us to lay hold upon his grace and strength, and thereby to rise to a higher knowledge of Himself, and to a consequent higher state of holiness than would be otherwise possible to us. The direct requirement is to believe, or to lay hold upon his strength, or to receive the Holy Spirit, or Christ, who stands at the door, and knocks, and waits for admission. The indirect requirement is to rise to a degree of knowledge of God, and to spiritual attainments that are impossible to us in our own strength. We have ability to obey the direct command directly, and the indirect command indirectly. That is, we are able by virtue of our nature, together with the proffered grace of the Holy Spirit, to comply with all the requirements of God. So that in fact there is no proper inability about it."


The grace of the gospel offers you, with every command, the strength to obey, and work in you the very thing commanded. Every command implies a corresponding promise, that is, if we are required to do anything by Christ, the very requirement is an implied promise or offer of all the aid we need to make it possible for us to perform it. Indeed, the command in itself is an implied gift of all needed help. The command itself implies the ability to obey it. Every command of God implies this in the strongest manner. It should be remembered that God is perfect in both love and wisdom: therefore He cannot be so unjust as to demand something from us that is impossible for us to perform. THE GRACE OF GOD TURNS THE REQUIREMENT OF THE LAW INTO A PROMISE OF GOD.


From Christian Perfection by Asa Mahan

The sinner is not required to "make himself clean," or to "make to himself a new heart," in the exercise of his unaided powers, but by application to the blood of Christ, "which cleanses from all sin." The grace which purifies the heart is provided; the fountain, whose waters cleanse from sin, is set open. To this fountain the sinner is brought, and because he may descend into it, and there "wash his garments and make them white," he can fulfill the command, "Wash you, make you clean," "make to yourself a new heart and a new spirit," and "cleanse yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." The sinner is able to make to himself a "new heart and a new spirit," because he can instantly avail himself of offered grace. He does literally "make to himself a new heart and a new spirit," ONLY when he yields himself up to the influence of that grace. The power to cleanse from sin lies in the blood and grace of Christ; and hence, when the sinner "purifies himself by obeying the truth through the spirit," the glory of his salvation belongs, not to him, but to Christ.

 2006/8/23 7:09

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