The Sin Must Stop ‘Before’ You Are Forgiven
‘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.’ ~ Isaiah 55:7
The greatest lie from Satan and all his teachers is that lost people can be saved while they continue in willful sin; that people are to come as you are to God and that he will receive them in their evil ways.
Will God justify and forgive people while they continue in sin? Do we have to stop sinning before we are pardoned and forgiven?
1.1 God Will Not Justify People Who Are Presently Wicked
God in his grace will surely help wicked people to stop being wicked but he will not justify or forgive them until this wickedness stops.
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.
- God promises that he will not justify or forgive people who are presently sinful.
Jeremiah 36:3 ~ It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.
- It is an unalterable requirement that people must turn from their sin if God is to be able to forgive them.
Proverbs 17:15 ~ He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
- Those teachers who tell people that they are justified and forgiven while they continue in sin are an absolute abomination to God.
- This is because God loves people and does not want them to perish. He knows that he cannot justify a person until they repent and turn from all known sin.
1.2 God Commands We First Forsake All Sin Before Pardon
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.
- God gives a list of things that must be done before God will hear peoples prayers, justify the, and forgive their sins.
- He says they must humble themselves, pray to him, seek his face, and turn from their wicked ways. All these things absolutely must happen before God will forgive people or God is a liar.
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.
- If a sinner wants to experience the mercy and forgiveness of a holy God they must meet his requirements.
- God here shows that he requires that sinners stop their sins and return to God from their rebellion. Only then will he offer pardon.
Jeremiah 26:13 ~ Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you.
- God has pronounced a judgment against all sinners in that the soul that sins it shall die.
- If God is ever to turn from the judgment he has pronounced upon sinners they must turn from their evil ways and obey the Word of God. This must happen before God will turn from his decision to destroy us.
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.
- The True Gospel message is that people must first stop their sins and be converted to a righteous life and then their sins can be blotted out that they may experience the presence of God.
1.3 Only Those Who Forsake Their Sins Are Offered Mercy
All sin must be forsaken 100% before God can offer a person mercy.
Proverbs 28:13 ~ He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
- Many teach that repentance is merely confession of sin but here we see that the true repentance required to receive mercy is both confession and forsaking of sin.
- If we cover our sins by believing a false gospel of salvation in sin then there is no hope that we will have mercy.
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?
- God says that his people are on spiritual death row and the only way they can be pardoned is to cast away their transgressions or stop their sinning!
- Unless we first make ourselves a new heart and spirit in repentance from sin and clinging unto God we will surely die.
Psalms 50:23 ~ To him that ordereth his conversation [derek: way of moral character] aright will I shew the salvation of God.
- Only those who convert their moral character from choosing to sin to choosing God and his ways will experience the salvation God offers.
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.
- A wicked man absolutely must turn from all his sins, start keeping the commandments of god, and do those things which are right before he can be delivered from the second death and live eternally.
1.4 We Must Stop Sinning In Order To Qualify For Salvation
Jeremiah 4:14 ~ O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?
- The command here is that we must do certain things first and the result is that we may be saved. This is not a guarantee of salvation but simply a condition that must be met before we can even possibly be saved.
- In order to be able to be saved we must first wash our hearts from all wickedness and cleanse our minds from commitment to sin.
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?
- God and his true teachers cry out to sinners to turn from their sinful acts so that they can be saved.
- We will surely die and not experience salvation unless we stop our evil ways and obey God.
James 1:21 ~ Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
- If we want to receive the precious Word that is able to save our souls, we must first turn away from every filthy thing in our lives. Only then in a spirit of meekness will we be able to receive this Word and be saved.
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.
- The story of Jonah shows what happens when people actually do repent, turn from their sins, and do works that prove this to be true.
- God says he saw that the Ninevites did just this. They repented of their sin and the result was that God saw it and chose to forgive them not bring judgment upon them.
- God is no respecter of persons and if we want to be saved and escape judgment we too must show God through our works that we really have repented of all sin and have been converted to him and his ways!
Lastly, the illustration we shared in the repentance will be repeated here as it helps greatly to understand why the sin must stop first. The following illustration may help us to understand the principle of salvation conditioned upon repentance:
Imagine a man’s wife is being unfaithful to him. She then pulls up to his home in her boyfriend’s car, gets out and says ‘I am really sorry for what I have done. Can you please forgive me?’ The man says ‘You are driving your boyfriend’s car and are obviously still in a relationship with him. I greatly desire to forgive you and bring about restoration to our relationship but it is not possible for us to be reconciled while you continue your adultery. You must make a choice. Continue with your boyfriend or break off your adulterous relationship with this man and then I can forgive you and we can be reconciled.’
The woman then breaks off the relationship with her boyfriend, returns, and begs forgiveness. Now the man says ‘I forgive you of all your adultery as I longed to do and we can now be reconciled. I want you to know that the adultery did need to stop, but the reason I forgave you is not because you stopped the adultery, I forgave you because I am merciful and I love you and I desire our reconciliation.’