CHANGING YOUR OWN SPOTS?

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil. Jeremiah 13:23.

Can we turn to God? Can we obey him? Can we walk free of sin? 

These are the questions. There are those who say we cannot do any of these things without being first called and regenerated and even then, we will never be righteous in the complete sense of the word, but will only be considered as righteous because Christ's righteousness has been imputed to us.

In fact, it has been said that we Christians will continue to sin hundreds, even thousands of times every day. This thought is a terrible travesty. It gives succor to the wicked sinner and makes us all rest while living in habitual sin.

They defend the sin of the Christian as if it is their right to feel free to sin. They speak as if any of us who say we are to quit sinning are into condemning Christians, and so are ourselves evil and self righteous.

There are also those who though admitting the truth of many of these thoughts say that the Christian who does keep sinning in a habitual sense was never really born again or was never of the elect.

In addition to this, some argue that we have nothing to do with our initial regeneration; that we are passive, and are chosen by God before we can even began to repent or believe. Or we who are saved, are only living out our predestined course. Which is to say, there is only one agency working in our salvation. We have no active part in it.

Many who believe many of these thoughts are quick to add that once the agency of the Holy Spirit has regenerated us, we are obligated to obey, and the true Christian, though unable to comply completely with the commandments of God, will be about doing much good.

Let us go back to the thought of the Leopard changing his spots.

- It cannot be done if those who are discipled, have been taught, or have the habit of doing, or have learned, to do evil.-

This is how it reads, when the context is taken into account.

I ask, "are we to take this scripture as it reads, isolated from the context and theme of the book, and on this basis use it to teach that no one can repent?"

Are we to take every scripture that speaks of the evil nature of man, out of context, and say that none of us can do anything in the way of repentance, aside from our already having been pre-ordained by God to obey ?

Are we to admit on the basis of these scriptures that God alone has to regenerate the sinner before he can even repent for it is impossible for them otherwise?

I would suggest that in every case where God calls a sinner to repent, that sinner can repent. You can call it what you will, but sinners can obey God, and repentance is an act of righteousness.

I would also suggest that though God calls every sinner to repent, they will not all repent.

The verses that seem to be saying that the wicked cannot repent is more correctly saying that - "they cannot because they will not."  This form of communication is still common.

Many wives, when speaking of some chore their husband has put off, over, and over,  have said "you are never going to get that done!" Still, lets hope, many of those husbands did eventually get around to finishing those jobs.

The many verses that speak of all men sinning and being totally corrupt and the like are not necessarily speaking of every individual. Check the context. It is speaking of every race or nation, not every individual. Read well ahead of them and on down and well below those verses, please.

Look over the following texts, and you tell me if God called Israel to repent in this same text.

 

Jer 13:15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the LORD hath spoken. 16 Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the LORD's flock is carried away captive. (KJV)

Was the agency of the Holy Spirit calling Israel to repent through Jeremiah, or not? By reading the book, it becomes evident that the Holy Spirit was using this prophet to call Israel to repentance, but they would not.

This is the case of God calling people all down through time even to this present age. He calls, yet they resist his call. His agency is ineffective because they will not heed his call.

This is proof that our heeding the call is also required. It is nonsense to suppose that Jeremiah was just going through the motions of calling them, and that in fact they could do nothing about their condition. The truth is they would not do anything.

If they could not do anything then Jeremiah's message is nonsense. "They could not change their spots of sin because they would not, not because they could not."

Remember Cain?

There were two, then four, but only one is said to have been righteous. That was Abel. Cain was given instructions even after he had obviously sinned. What did he do? Was God just messing with Cain's mind? Was Cain really able to obey God even though he had been born of Adam and Eve? Is it true that all Cain had to do was overcome sin and do what was right to be accepted by God? Does this scene fit with Calvin's views?

Gen 4:4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 Gen 4:4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." 8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. 9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" (NIV)

I would suggest that it is a very dangerous to contradict the principles involved in these verses. The very words of God, as they are presented here, are contradicted by most theologians and bible teachers today. God help us!

God does his part. We have our part to do. If we repent, he then empowers us to live as we ought.

The first commandment is not being obeyed by those who have never repented or who refuse to repent of a sin after they have once accepted the Lord. There are many who think they love God, but do not. They prove they do not love him because they do not love their neighbor.

As Darwin pointed out, If God does it all he is only worshipping himself through our preprogrammed actions. (Not in Darwin's words.)

For God to receive his worthy praise, he had to give us some amount of limited sovereignty. Our agency has to work simultaneously with the agency of the Holy Spirit. If our free will is not involved, then God is but worshipping himself.

Are you willing to say that this is how it is? Are you willing to go so far as to believe that God has planned everything down to the most infinitesimal urge that ever arises within any being's heart and none of them have the ability to deviate from the effects of that  influence, ever? Can you honestly say, God is but using all of His creation as nothing more then a means of worshipping Himself? If this is what you believe - how can you say God is benevolence?

Add to this - If we teach that we do not have to obey God, for whatever reason, we are into worshipping ourselves.

When we say, or imply, sin is no longer an issue since Christ arose from the grave, we have then elevated our position above that of God, into a place of extreme self worship.

When we say we are trying to obey God, we are really saying that in some situations we have found it to be impossible to do.

We are not to try. This leads to disobedience.  We are only obligated to do.

Again, and in the strongest terms, we have no viable alternative other then to obey Him. The thought of us needing to try to obey God is not found in the bible. It is either we do obey or we do not. Effort is not the point. We all have what it takes, by grace. Note: God's grace was involved when we took our first breath , and He is/was there when we accepted Him.

The New Testament, not only teaches us to quit sinning, but this is also an underlying theme of the whole Bible, from cover to cover. To focus on a few scriptures that can be construed to support the thought that no man ever quits sinning is a travesty.

To teach that we must accept daily sinning in the life of the Christian as being the norm is to remove our peace in all areas of our lives - from our families, from our communities, from our nation, etc.

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said:"In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.  NKJV

We can, and must, repent by turning away from doctrines that excuse sin, then our peace will increase.

 

Your friend Vern Manson

Sunday, June 03, 2001  /  Wednesday 13, 2001

Sabbath Sense   These Sabbath thoughts are thought to be near blaspheme by some. ??  Of course Changing our own spots is too. ??

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