Do I Have To Give Up Sins To Be Saved?
By David J. Stewart | November 2003 | Updated October 2018
Mark 6:6 and 6:12, “And he
marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round
about the villages, teaching. ... And they went out, and preached that men should repent.”
Does a person have to quit their sinning to be saved? The answer is a resounding, “NO!” You do NOT have to stop sinning to be saved! Truthfully, no one can stop sinning! No one can live above sin—NO ONE! The Bible says that even our own goodness is as filth in God's sight (Isaiah 64:6). Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners (1st Timothy 1:15). You do NOT have to give up anything to be saved except your UNBELIEF.
Many sincere, but misguided, Bible students take a Scripture like Mark 6:12, which says that men should “REPENT,” and they wrestle it out of context. Verse 12 taken by itself, especially since verse 11 mentions Sodom and Gomorrah, could easily be assumed to mean turning from sins to be saved. Albeit, if we look at the surrounding context, we learn in verse 6 what they needed to “repent” from, which is UNBELIEF! The Bible says that Jesus marvelled because of “THEIR UNBELIEF,” not their sins! The apostles preached repentance from unbelief, not repentance from sins!!!
You Don't Go To Hell Because You Won't Quit Your Sinning (a sermon quote from Pastor Curtis Hutson)
Please understand that repentance is absolutely necessary to be saved. Albeit, “to repent” doesn't mean what most people errantly think it means. Repentance is simply “A CHANGE OF MIND” unto the Gospel itself. So if you BELIEVE, you have also repented. In the precious Gospel of John, which is God's Gospel tract according to John 20:31, the words “believe” and “believed” and “believing” are mentioned 87 times, but the word “repent” is not mentioned even once. That speaks volumes! It confirms the simple truth that we repent TO believe, we don't repent AND believe! Repentance is not a separate act from believing, they happen at the same time. We are saved by believing, not by repenting; but no one has ever believed without also repenting, which is simply a change of mind toward God. John 20:31, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
As an example of a corrupt preacher who teaches that you must repent AND believe, I present to you Evangelist Ray Comfort. Evangelist Ray Comfort Requires “Living A Lifestyle” To Be Saved.
Because of the satanic influence of the Roman Catholic religion, many people have been deceived concerning God's plan of salvation. There is a fine line between faith and foolishness! The Bible teaches “REPENACTCE TOWARD GOD” (Acts 20:21). The phrase “turn from sin” is never mentioned in the Holy Bible. As we saw in Mark 6:6-12, the reason why Sodom and Gomorrah were so sinful and reprobate is because of THEIR UNBELIEF!!!
Here is the best quote that I've found on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):
“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16)
We are all sinful human beings. Ecclesiastes 7:20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” We aren't sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners! We're all sinners by nature and by choice!
One of the most precious and important theological doctrines in the Holy Bible is “IMPUTATION”—Theology: “to attribute (righteousness, guilt, sin, et cetera) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.” In other words, salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. Isaiah 53:5a, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” Christ died for all mankind. Amen!
The fundamental Bible doctrine of IMPUTATION is one of the most important subjects in the Bible, right up there was the sprinkling of Jesus' literal blood upon the heavenly Mercy Seat in the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:12, 22-24; 12:24).
In his classic and helpful book, “SALVATION IS MORE THAN BEING SAVED,” Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001) teaches:
Upon the acceptance of God's plan, God imputes to man the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ; and God, Who cannot fellowship with unrighteousness, sees man clothed in the righteousness of His dear Son. Romans 10: 1-4, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
...Man cannot earn that righteousness, for he has sinned. The only hope he has for righteousness is that he receive the righteousness of Christ purchased for him on Calvary—man has his choice—to trust his own righteousness and spend eternity in Hell or to trust the righteousness of Christ, which in response to his faith will be imputed unto him, and then spend eternity in Heaven. This is called "imputation in salvation."
...Satan, the accuser, may come to God and say, "Did you see that sin that Hyles committed?"
God says, "Yes, I did." Satan says, "Then impute it." God says, "I will not!"
Satan says, "Why?"
God says, "It has already been imputed. It has been placed on the record of My Son, and I will not impute sin to those who are in Christ."
In review, let us see the order: (1) Sin. (2) Sin recorded. (3) Jesus became sin. (4) Jesus paid for sin. (5) Man believes it is true. (6) Man receives Christ and His payment for sin. (7) Calvary is made valid. (8) Man's sins are covered. (9) Man is justified in the sight of God. (10) God will impute no sin to him.”
SOURCE: Dr. Jack Hyles, “IMPUTATION AT SALVATION,” chapter 4, “SALVATION IS MORE THAN BEING SAVED.”
Christ paid our debt of sin upon the cross as our substitute (which is what “vicarious” means, “in place of”). God the Father IMPUTED our sins to Christ on the cross, and then God IMPUTED all of Christ's perfect righteousness to us. What an awesome deal! What a great God! Jesus paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay. Jesus paid it all, bearing the full weight of our sins upon the cross of Calvary! (“Calvary” is the name of the hill upon which Christ died. It is also called, “The Place of the Skull,” because the rock formations naturally look like a skull). It is a shame that the new Bible versions, including the New International Version (NIV), completely remove the word “Calvary.” Consequently, hymns like “At Calvary” lack meaning to this newer generation.
I was reading tonight and found a great quote from Evangelist Oliver B. Greene:
“When we believe, we receive: 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved' (Acts 16:31). 'As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name' (John 1:12).”
SOURCE: Dr. Oliver B. Greene; The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews; THE GOSPEL HOUR, INC., © 1965.
It is very easy and simple to be saved. Many Bible students mistake the emphasis upon repentance in the Old Testament as meaning “turning from sins” to be saved. However, we learn that this is simply not the truth when we read Genesis 15:6, “And he [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” The New Testament quotes from Genesis 15:6. Romans 4:3-8, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”
Oh, how beautiful are these Scriptures, which Evangelist Ray Comfort totally ignores in his “THE EVIDENCE BIBLE.” Kindly, Mr. Comfort has been deceived by the Devil. I have a copy of his tainted book right in front of me. I wanted to double-check, just to make sure I am being accurate. The last Scripture Mr. Comfort comments about is Romans 3:20, and then the next verse is Romans 4:20. He skips one of the most important passages of Scripture in the Holy Bible, about the doctrine of IMPUTATION. Oh my, how could any serious Bible teacher fail to teach the doctrine of IMPUTATION? And neither does Mr. Comfort comment about Genesis 15:6. You see, the vital doctrine of imputation doesn't fit his heresy of Lordship Salvation. Kindly, Ray Comfort has brought a curse upon many churches. Galatians 1:6-9, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” What Is The Gospel? (an excellent, doctrinally-sound, writing by Dr. Harry A. Ironside).
Do you have the new life which is in Jesus Christ friend? No amount of religion can produce the new birth. John 1:12-14, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Beware of anyone (such as Mr. Comfort) who refers to being “born-again” as a radical experience instead of a new birth. Salvation is not reformation, nor is it rehabilitation, nor is it education; it is REGENERATION!!!
One of my favorite Scripture passages in the Bible is Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” There we see the truth of Colossians 3:4b, “CHRIST, WHO IS OUR LIFE”!!! Amen and amen! Why would anyone want to pass up on the blessed gift of having the Son of God—the great God and Savior of all men (1st Timothy 4:10)—live within their very being? The Holy Bible is a precious book of thousands of promises from God to every Christian.
Whereas before we did not believe on Christ, now we do! Whereas before we lived in sin with no conviction, now we are convicted for our sins. It is not reasonable to expect a new believer to clean up their life of sin right away. It takes time for the Holy Spirit to work in one's soul. It's a lifetime process of growing in the Lord's grace. We grow by nurturing upon the milk of God's Word (1st Peter 2:2). It would be just as ridiculous to expect a new believer to consecrate their life to serving Christ as a disciple, as it would be to expect a human baby to run a marathon!!! Just as a human baby cannot walk until it first crawls, and cannot run until it first learns to walk; so also do Christians require years to mature in the Lord.
We are all woeful sinners (Romans 3:10, 23). To be saved, a person MUST realize their sinful condition and believe the Gospel. It is NOT enough simply to commit your life to God, or decide to turn over a new leaf. These are not repentance. Changing one's ways is reformation, which is not a part of the Gospel. This is self-righteousness and a false Gospel. To be saved, you must acknowledge that you are a guilty sinner in God's eyes and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:43).
Anyone who teaches that you must turn away from sinful behavior to be saved is adding the law to grace:
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” —Romans 3:20
Do you have to give up your sins to be saved? No, just your unbelief. I get upset when people teach the heresy of “Lordship salvation.” What is that? Lordship Salvation is the false doctrine that you must make Christ the “Lord” of your life to be saved, and that you must depart from intentional sinful activities. May I say, there is no such thing as a believer who does not commit sin. We are all woeful sinners. If I have to give up a certain amount of sin to be saved, then how much do I have to give up? Just because a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour does not mean they are above sin. As a matter of fact, getting saved is just the start of a lifelong process. Try as hard as you may, you are going to walk in the flesh at times and sin. I have often said, “Christians at best are people, and people at best are sinners.” We can walk in the Holy Spirit at any given time, but the fact is that we're not always going to do so because we are sinners.
No One Has God's Permission To Sin
No one has God's Permission to sin. If you want to be Biblical, a believer does in fact have a “license to sin” (only in the sense that the gift of eternal life cannot be forfeited). No sin that a believer commits can ever jeopardize one's Eternal Security. To teach otherwise is to negate the gift of God and teach a false Gospel of self-righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, based upon Christ's imputed righteousness to our account (and not any good of our own). We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is receiving, not giving.
Believers who choose to live in sin will be “chastised” by God (Hebrews 12:6-8). For anyone to be able to live in sin without conviction from God's Holy Spirit means they are not saved, i.e., a “bastard” as Hebrews 12:8, “But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” Certainly, many believers do choose to live in sin; but they are miserable and know that God does not approve. Every believer in Jesus Christ will give account to God for the good and bad done on earth (Romans 14:12; 2nd Corinthians 5:10). As Evangelist Tom Ferrell wisely says, “If you can sin, and win, you're not in!” That is, if you can sin habitually as a professed Christian, without ever having any soul's conviction by the Holy Spirit, then you are not saved. If you are saved, then YOU DO HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT indwelling you (Romans 8:9), and HE WILL CONVICT YOU CONCERNING ANY UNCONFESSED AND UNFORSAKEN SINS IN YOUR LIFE!!!
We will all be judged at The Judgment Seat of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11), accordingly. Many believers will receive no rewards at this judgment and will be ashamed and overwhelmed with tears (1st Corinthians 3:15; 5:5). Again, NO ONE HAS GOD'S PERMISSION TO SIN!!! God chastises and scourges disobedient children. But, argue as many will, you can choose to live in rebellion, sleep with the dogs, eat with the pigs in the hogpen, and eat the Devil's food-poisoning if you'd like, but there will be consequences!!! Sin always comes with a hefty price tag. Sin thrills and then it kills! Sin fascinates and then it assassinates! There's a high price for low living!!! The Devil sends his bills regularly, and he charges the highest interest rate!
Salvation is solely conditional upon God's faithfulness; but discipleship is solely based upon man's faithfulness. You can be saved without becoming a disciple (Demas forsook Paul). You can become a disciple without getting saved (Judas).
Nevertheless, say what you will, no believer will ever stand trial at The Great White Throne of Judgment for sins committed in this lifetime (Revelation 20:11-15). This is “why” there will be two separate and distinct judgments:
One for the SAVED at The Judgment Seat Of Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:9-11).
One for the UNSAVED at the Great White Throne Of Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).
The Biggest Problem in Winning Someone to the Lord
The hardest part about getting people saved is getting them lost! Most people are relying upon their own self-righteousness for Heaven, which is what most so-called “churches” teach nowadays. The Bible plainly states: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us...” (Titus 3:5). I haven't met too many people (although I've met some) who say they do know they're going to Hell and don't care. Most people want to go to Heaven to live in happiness forever. Sadly, and tragically, most people have been lied to by some priest or sinister minister into believing that good works are a part of saving faith, which is a false gospel.
The Best of Christians are Still Sinners
A lot of religious people have a problem with the idea that a person can be born-again and yet still commit horrible sins. I am not condoning sin at all. I am simply saying that even the best of Christians are still sinners. But you cannot corrupt the Gospel in an attempt to force people to change.
King David was a Christian who killed a man to cover up his sin of adultery with the man's wife. It took one year for David to repent. Peter was one of the Apostles; yet denied Christ, cursed Jesus' holy name and quit the ministry. Moses murdered a man. Sometimes Christians do horrible things. Samson was a whoremonger. Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God. Solomon was a sex pervert. This does not mean they're not truly saved.
I knew of a minister with a wicked hot-temper who poured bleach over his wife's head while she sat crippled in a wheelchair. It's hard to believe that a Christian could do such a thing, but it happened. It's wrong and I'm not condoning sin. I'm simply saying that believers are still sinners. You need to be very careful about deciding who's saved or not based on what you see (1st Samuel 16:7). I've known seemingly decent believers who later committed some really horrible sins. Though sad and tragic, it does not mean that they're not saved. It does mean they got away from walking with God on a daily basis. Proverbs 14:14 says the backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways.
Please don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to go light on sin here. We should try to live above sin.
“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” —2nd Timothy 2:19
God wants His children to live righteous; but living right is not a prerequisite for salvation. You do NOT have to give up anything to be saved except your unbelief! Put your faith in the Lord friend to forgive your sins and you will be saved. Jesus will help you to straighten out your life. Give God your heart and he'll comb the kinks out of your head.
Never let anyone tell you that you must depart from sin to be saved, for this is heresy. Again, “repentance” in the Bible simply means "a change of mind." Repentance means that we decide to trust Christ as our Saviour to forgive us of all our wicked sins. Repentance simply means to get saved. We get saved by confessing our sins to God and asking Him to forgive us. To turn to Christ is to turn from sin—this is repentance! This is why we find the word "believe" mentioned 85-times in the Gospel of John; yet the word “repent” is not mentioned even once. Hence, the man who believes on Jesus Christ to forgive his sins has repented already in his heart.
The Lord Jesus had plenty to say about REPENTANCE--
Luke 24:47, "Jesus said to them] that REPENTANCE and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Luke 5:32, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to REPENTANCE."
Mark 1:15, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, AND BELIEVE the gospel."
Regenerated Versus Converted
I have known believers who claimed to be Christians; yet they went to nightclubs. I've known people who claimed the name of Christ who were often mean and abusive to other people. Does that mean they're not saved? No, it does mean they're worldly and immature in the Lord. Conversion has NOTHING to do with being regenerated (saved). Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Jesus told Peter to strengthen his fellow brethren after he was “CONVERTED.” The Greek word for “converted” here is epistrepho and means “to revert” (go back to a previous state, to come back). The Lord is referring to the three incidents when Peter denied Jesus. The Lord was not talking to Peter about salvation here. Peter was already saved. Jesus simply told Peter that when He came back to help his brethren by strengthening them in the Lord.
At the time we are saved we are regened, or regenerated with the Holy Spirit of God. Being “born again” means having He Who is the beginning born in us (Revelation 1:8). Salvation is like being pulled from the garbage. Just because God pulled you out of the incinerator of Hell doesn't mean that you've been RECYCLED yet. The recycling process is conversion. Being saved from Hell is just the very beginning. God has a recycling program for every believer. The new birth is immediate, but sanctification is a lifelong process that begins at salvation.
We are instantly saved at the moment we trust Christ as Saviour; but the conversion process to make us what God wants us to be takes time to grow in the Lord. The Bible speaks of growing in grace (1st Peter 2:2). Please don't misunderstand—a person does NOT have to be converted to be saved; but an unconverted person will remain outside of the will of God for their life. A person DOES have to be regenerated (born again) to be saved, i.e., Christ born in us. No one ever got saved who didn't realize that they were a sinner. The Old Testament law diagnoses man's problem, which is SIN. Jesus is the solution, Who died in our place and paid for our sins (Galatians 3:24-25).
To be saved, we must repent of our sins only in the sense that we must agree with God that we are hell-deserving sinners! The truth is that we will be repenting of sins for the rest of our life. To clarify, we are saved ONCE and only once. Once you receive the gospel (Christ's death, burial and resurrection) as full-payment for your sins, you are a child of God forever. You CANNOT lose your salvation! If saved, always saved!
Now once you've become a believer, God is going to convict you of sin by His Spirit that indwells every believer (Romans 8:9). King David went for 9 months in denial after killing Uriah and stealing the man's wife. It wasn't until Nathan the prophet came to open David's eyes that he finally repented. David was saved, but hadn't repented until almost a year later. This happens to many believers, i.e., we get out of line and fail to see it until someone else points it out to us. Proverbs 14:14 warns that the backslider in heart becomes filled with his OWN WAYS.
Beware of Lordship Salvation
Too many Christians want to add holy living to salvation under the guise of “repentance.“ No friend, repentance is simply a turn around of mind. At salvation, a man's mind has changed about sin and the Saviour. This is the beginning of his new life in Christ. Yes, he should be sorry for his sins; but this is a FRUIT of genuine repentance and not a part of saving-faith. Yes, he should have a desire to change his sinful ways to please God; but this is a FRUIT of genuine repentance and not a part of saving-faith.
If we correctly view salvation as a new birth (that is, a spiritual, second, birth by the Spirit of God) then we will not expect sinners to mend their ways as part of being saved. That would be as ridiculous to expect a newborn human baby to run a marathon. Just as a newborn babe must first learn to crawl before he can walk, and learn to walk before he can run; so also does a new believer need to grow in the milk of the Word before he or she can reasonably be expected to live a consecrated life.
To say that a new believer should be holy and separated is like saying that a newly born baby should be able to play sports or run a marathon. How ridiculous for anyone to place such a burden upon a new believer. God never asks us to give up anything to be saved. There are two types of religions in the world: "DO" and "DONE" (i.e., either you believe you must do something to get to Heaven; or else you believe it's already done, paid in full by the Lord Jesus Christ). I'm in the DONE group. How about you?
Jesus paid it all,
all to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow!
You do NOT have to make Jesus your “Lord” to be saved. Jesus is Lord; you don't make Him Lord! The idea of surrendering to Christ's Lordship as part of saving-faith is a false Gospel of self-righteousness.
The Wonderful Conclusion
Acts 26:20 ...they should repent and TURN TO GOD, AND DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE.
Acts 2:39, 3:19 REPENT YE therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out...
Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to REPENT:
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Again, “repent” simply means “a change of mind.” Lordship Salvation totally eliminates the growing-in-grace process. It takes years to genuinely mature in the Lord. All you need to do to be saved is to come as a guilty sinner and trust upon the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sins (Acts 10:43).
Do you have to give up your sin to be saved? No friend, just admit that you are a sinner. BELIEVE THE GOSPEL and you are eternally saved. That is God's PROMISE (1st Corinthians 1:21). WE ALL NEED HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS to get to Heaven.
“Salvation is More Than Being Saved” (by Dr. Jack Hyles):
Chapter 1 - What is Salvation?
Chapter 2 - Regeneration and Salvation
Chapter 3 - Conversion and Salvation
Chapter 4 - Imputation at Salvation
Chapter 5 - Work Our Your Own Salvation!
Chapter 6 - Eternal Life
Chapter 7 - Salvation and the Law
Chapter 8 - Salvation is More than Being Saved!
Chapter 9 - Election at Salvation
Chapter 10 - The Great Hindrance to Salvation
Chapter 11 - Lordship Salvation
Chapter 12 - God's Three Great Loves
Chapter 13 - Justification
Chapter 14 - The Salvation of a Nation
Chapter 15 - So Great Salvation!
Chapter 16 - My Saviour is Also My Friend
Chapter 17 - Why Hell?
Chapter 18 - The Simplicity of Salvation