The Two Questions On The Repentance Requirement

by Mac Deaver

In Todd’s last piece he asks whether or not sincerely believed error damns the soul and whether or not repentance always leads to the cessation of sin. He asked, “(1) Do you claim that sincerely believing error on the issues earlier cited (e.g., Was Junias an apostle? Where do saints go immediately after death? etc.) will lead to the loss of salvation if not corrected? And if not, on what basis do you distinguish these doctrinal errors from those that are truly fatal?” And “(2) Do you believe that repentance always entails the cessation of the sin? If yes, doesn’t this lead to an impossible perfectionism?” I will address these two points.

As to the first point, I will answer generally only. If one can be saved by sincerely believing anything, then we do not need a Bible. That is, if a man can “sincerely” believe anything and yet be saved, then the gospel is meaningless. Briefly, not all errors damn the soul. Those doctrinal errors that when believed create divine doctrinal violation (sin), however, could damn the soul. I could not know what God’s final handling of all the cases involving saints will be. I could not even be aware of some privately held doctrinal error in the minds of some of my own brethren in my own congregation. God obligates the church to uphold the truth, however (1 Tim. 3:15). We are to be ready to give defense for our hope (1 Pet. 3:15). The world will be lost, and only those whom God deems faithful Christians will be saved (Rev. 14:13; 1 Jno. 5:19).

The kind of heart that takes a man to glory is an honest and good one (Luke 8:15). A sincere heart is either (1) honest and good, (2) honest but not good, (3) good but not honest, (4) neither good nor honest. The Bible teaches that every honest and good heart is saved because of its association with and attachment to truth (Luke 8:15; 1 Tim. 2:4). No one can be saved without truth (Rom. 1:16). It is not saved prior to its finding truth, it is not saved in spite of its failure to find truth,  it is not saved having abandoned the truth, and it is not saved by sincerity alone (Acts 26:9). The New Testament in no passage replaces the concept of truth with the concept of sincerity. But it does teach that genuine sincerity (the good and honest heart) always finds truth by which it will be saved (Matt. 7:7-11; Luke 11:13; Acts 17:27; 1 Tim. 1:12-17). Given the nature of man and the nature of truth, it could not be otherwise. And no right respect for New Testament authority allows minimizing the value of truth while maximizing the weakness of man. It is, rather, because of human weakness that the knowledge of truth is so necessary and ought to be maximized, for in it lies our only hope (Acts 20:32; Jas. 1:21; Rom. 1:16).

The non-Christian must cease practicing sin and obey the gospel. To die in sin is fatal (Rom. 6:23). Ultimate truth (the truth) and actual grace (the grace) are found in Christ (John 1:17). No sinner who fails to become a Christian can be saved (Mark 16:15, 16). And no Christian who abandons the gospel can be saved (Heb. 10:26-31; Gal. 4:6). And no Christian who is bent on self-justification at the cancellation of divine obligation can be saved (Luke 10:25-37). And no one who is unwilling to have his religious convictions carefully examined can be all that sincere. And no one who fails to desire spiritual improvement in understanding and action can be loving God with all his heart. However, the degree to which God allows doctrinal error in the heart of a saint at a given time is not always clear to us, nor does it have to be. There is certainly time allowed for growth (11 Pet. 3:18). That is God’s concern. But what we know to be truth we are obligated to respect, and we must live in the light of that knowledge. Congregationally speaking, elders are to make sure that the unity of the Spirit is maintained. If “doctrinal perfection” is defined as knowing all that God knows about a doctrine, then of course we can never arrive at that. There could be no such thing as “doctrinal perfectionism.” However, we can arrive at personal “completionism” that entails walking in the light of what we know. So said Paul (Phil. 3:15, 16). And Jesus said we could, upon a given condition, know the truth (John 8:32). After all, it is a matter of an honest will (John 7:17). Doctrinal error that is clearly personally corruptive, congregationally disruptive, or doctrinally detrimental is condemned (1 Cor. 5:1-8; Tit. 3:10; 11 Tim. 2:18; Gal. 2:5).

Regarding Todd’s second question as to whether or not repentance always entails the cessation of the sin, let me say that it does. If I keep on striking you in the face while you plead with me to stop, it would be impossible for you to believe that I have repented of the deed. Godly sorrow produces repentance (11 Cor. 7:10). There would have to be enough sorrow to stop the act at least for a while. The cessation of the act alone would not prove repentance, but the continuation of the act without an interim would indicate no repentance whatever. Cessation followed later by another attack would not in and of itself prove that repentance had not earlier occurred. We are not told how much time there must be between acts in order for repentance to have occurred. It is not a matter of time as such. It is a matter of attitude toward the deed. And, there are degrees of sorrow and regret. If the act never stops, however, no degree of repentance has been actualized. The return of the act later would not, in and of itself, determine that a prior repentance had not actually occurred (Matt. 18:21, 22). 

Now, for a sinner to become a saint he must repent (Acts 17:30, 31). He must determine to leave the practice of sin. A Christian does not and cannot practice righteousness and sin at the same time. It cannot be done (1 John 3:7-9). We either walk in the light (1 John 1:7) or we go back to the darkness (Eph. 5:7-9). There is a great difference between a man’s momentary lapses while remaining in and desiring to remain in a scriptural marriage and his sinning against the marriage itself (cf. 1 Pet. 3:7 with Matt. 19:9).  There is a difference between a Christian’s manifest weaknesses because of his human nature (Matt. 26:41) and his leaving the light for the darkness (1 John 1:6-8). The tug between flesh and spirit is constant (Gal. 5:17). The cessation of a sinful act followed by lapses over and over again does not necessarily prove that genuine repentance did not occur but rather indicates the constant need of divine help in order for us to hold sin down (Rom. 8:12-14).

Just as there is a difference between a man’s committing sin in a marriage while seeking the good of the marriage and his sinning against the marriage itself, there is a difference between a Christian’s sinning while still walking in the light and sinning in such a way or to such a degree that shows that flesh now dominates spirit and that he has (whether intentionally or unintentionally) given up Christ. While we have no possibility of human “perfectionism,” we have the obligation to go on unto completion or full growth (Heb. 6:1) trusting the promise of God “being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

 A man who will not admit or claims not to see the difference between legitimate marriage and adultery is not being honest about either marriage or adultery. If I cannot see the conceptual difference between (1) a Christian’s momentary lapses because of the nature of flesh and spirit while he continues to walk in the light and (2) anyone’s walking in the darkness (never having left the darkness or having left it only to return to it), then I cannot yet see the qualitative distinction between the significance of truth and error.

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18 Comments on “The Two Questions On The Repentance Requirement”

  1. It is quite difficult to choose where to start here. There are multiple things that I take logical and/or doctrinal exception to. But giving a point-by-point rebuttal would not only take a lot of time, but not make any difference, methinks.

    The reason I think this, is because I sense that we don’t have a common spiritual vocabulary as it were.

    This is the main reason for the division of the “conservative” and “progressive” (pardon the generic labels) churches of Christ. There is a different perspective, background, and experience with God, and thus, a different hermeneutic.

    For instance, nowhere in the post above do I see a discussion of what the Holy spirit is doing all this time while a man struggles with sin. Without the workings of the Spirit in the conversation, the conversation is pointless.

    Even by saying that, there will be those who disagree with the idea that the Spirit is a factor in this discussion at all.

    Which brings me again to my conclusion that this is cart before horse. Without having a common spiritual vocabulary, this will simply become a logic and reasoning spitting match with no more unity and fellowship than when we started.

    Ultimately what we need to do is start with the absolute basics and go forward until there is divergence, then find out why. Until we do that, we’ll be blind men describing an elephant from multiple sides, as the old story goes…

  2. mark Says:

    Once again to ignore what postmodernism means and those emerging theologies is to lose sight of a very important phrase; there is an exception to every rule! Clearly when we speak of God mercy towards infants, those with terrible mental disorders, and any other reasonable exceptions to the rule; we find ourselves tucking our tails between our legs and rethinking what we mean by to be “saved”.

    Then there is the Gospel defined once as selected acts of obedience and then redefined as the promotion of a lifestyle and process of maturity which is it?

    Mac Deaver states “Just as there is a difference between a man’s committing sin in a marriage while seeking the good of the marriage and his sinning against the marriage itself, there is a difference between a Christian’s sinning while still walking in the light and sinning in such a way or to such a degree that shows that flesh now dominates spirit and that he has (whether intentionally or unintentionally) given up Christ.”

    What is questionable is the phrase “to such a degree” in reference to sin. This is in my estimation is not a plausible way to measure ones salvation or damnation. But Dever does say something which is notable and perhaps the gist my reply .He said “the constant need of divine help in order for us to hold sin down”. That would be grace and that is how we demystify the paradox of his problem of a “sin in a marriage while seeking the good. The truth of the matter is while we were still sinners Christ died for us. The drive to perfectionism and models of curbing sin is just simple existentialism but God I’m sure will forgive this too….

  3. ben overby Says:

    Our journey from new creation to Christ-likeness takes time. It is a process of discipleship. Sin dwells in our “members” or our body parts. By the Spirit we’re putting to death all that is earthly, or all the stuff that resides in us which requires no grace in order to act–that is, our natural tendency to sin (learned over a lifetime prior to conversion). Though our allegiance is with the new Adam, the old Adam doesn’t die off all at once.

    And so a man repents, and with the mind he delights in the law of God according to his inner being (his spirit). But I suspect we’ve all learned, along with Paul, that there’s another law in us, waging war against our mind, and making us captive to sin which dwells in our members. Salvation means liberation from the tyranny of sin as slave master.

    I simply suggest that all of us, regardless of how mature some may think themselves, are in transition. We’ve been transformed from darkness into light, but our spirits still groan along with all creation, for the revealing of the sons of God, the freedom of the glory of the children of God, the redemption of our bodies.

    Until the redemption of our bodies the struggle will continue within the lives of all humans more or less. And if sin resides in the “members” as Paul put it, then not only does that include sexual impurity, anger, wrath, it includes all sorts of inclinations. The church is in the business of discipleship. We make disciples by helping babes in Christ get up on their feet so that they can follow Jesus in order to be like Him. But we also expect that they will fail. And we come along side them to help them get back up, beg for mercy, and seek the Spirit’s help in killing off the old man. What keeps us all moving forward is trust in Jesus, His word, abiding in Him, opening the self so that He, and His words can abide in us. Trust opens all of that up. Unbelief closes the door shut.

    And so if you, as my brother embrace the doctrinal error which suggests that a woman can’t pass out the Lord’s supper, or that God has suddenly turned against instrumental worship (which He affirmed in the OT and tells us He accepts even now–in heavenly worship, see the present tense of Rev. 4), or the silliness that suggest that though sin can somehow dwell in our body parts, the Spirit can’t; if you’ve embraced errors such as that, we can still walk hand in hand if it’s evident that we both still trust Jesus.

    Why? Some people (maybe most religious people) have doctrinal error deeply embedded in their flesh. And we’re all in transition. Some of us have seen the Spirit work (by faith) in our lives, freeing us from the tyranny of such slavery–or at least partially up to this point. But all of us still have some error, some degree of sin that is in our parts, and for now we wait in hope of the freedom that is to come in the end. We don’t wait passively. We wait while doing all that we can to rid our selves of any and all sin to the glory of God. And all of us who are trusting Jesus with our lives rather than the self or the flesh will reign with Him forever. So, we need to get used to each other and align ourselves with a biblical worldview that doesn’t allow for the constant splintering, disfellowship, and constant bickering that define too many segments of God’s family.

    But there are those who are so arrogant as to suppose they’ve arrived. Some of us live in hope. Who hopes for what he already sees? If we hope for what we do not see, we wait in patiences. I think that explains why the religious managers are so impatient, so quick to destroy the fabric of unity. They already know all that needs to be known on all the subjects, believe themselves instantly and fully sanctified at baptism, and suppose that neither sin nor the Spirit resides in their flesh. Rather, they find themselves fully capable of keeping the righteous requirements of the law by cobbling together a weird hermeneutic and arrogance. They suppose they see the thing some of only hope for—a body so redeemed as to be free from doctrinal or moral error. God resists the proud. Our starting point together is trusting humility. As Mac said, “And no one who is unwilling to have his religious convictions carefully examined can be all that sincere.” Those who have “arrived” feel no sincere need to have anything examined but rather major in condemning others. May we all be open to examination! I know I need it.

    ben overby

  4. This is a well reasoned post, in many ways, and I appreciate a recognition of the complexities of repenting, but ultimately recommitting a sin act.

    However, as the post begins, Mac denies the relevancy of “sincerity,” but at the end, his comments regarding repentance make the case that sincerity of repentance is not negated by the subsequent reoccurrence of sin.

    So, sincerity is relevant.

    Mac also acknowledges that if my doctrinal understanding is flawed, I should still seek to follow the doctrine that’s been revealed to me. Is that also not an admission that sincerity is relevant? If sincerity is not relevant, then law is absolute and failure to abide by all the law condemns.

    But in fact, if I try to do the loving thing for you, but fail, have I sinned?

    God judges the heart, not the act itself.

  5. Was Peter’s salvation forfeit after Pentecost but before Paul withstood him to his face? was he not guilty of the sin of either not believing Jesus’ prophecy about including Gentiles in His church, or at least failing to act on it for fear of his Jewish brothers?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I spoke to a non-believer the other day. I asked them why they don’t believe in Jesus. And what they said really didn’t surprise me. They said there are so many churches who believe in Jesus who say they are the only ones going to heaven who hate all other churches and say and all other churches who believe in Jesus are going to hell, so why should they believe in someone who brings so many people to have so much hate for other people who even believe in the same Man. There are people seeing those calling themselves Christians acting no different than to be another hate group in the world.

    Well done good and faithful servant?? Really??

  7. Zach Cox Says:


    Thank you for participating in this discussion. The following quote represents the heart of your response (at least in my mind):

    “Briefly, not all errors damn the soul. Those doctrinal errors that when believed create divine doctrinal violation (sin), however, could damn the soul. ”

    Since that appears to be your thesis, could you please clarify what you mean by “divine doctrinal violation?” You put “sin” in parenthesis. It almost reads “those doctrinal mistakes that when believed create divine doctrinal mistakes could damn…” Just seeking some clarity here…not quite sure what you mean.

    You also concluded your first point by saying:

    “Doctrinal error that is clearly personally corruptive, congregationally disruptive, or doctrinally detrimental is condemned (1 Cor. 5:1-8; Tit. 3:10; 11 Tim. 2:18; Gal. 2:5).”

    What qualifies as “clearly personally corruptive?” I might be mistaken here but I believe your partner (Phil) in defense of the “conservative” position would/has labeled a belief in direct help from the Spirit as just that; i.e., personally harmful (see his blog post Blame It On the Spirit). I am curious if he believes your “error” (I personally believe you are correct) to be damning.

    I will leave off my other questions in hope that the principal participants will bring them out first.

    Thanks in advance,

    Zach Cox

  8. Rich Says:

    Dear Anonymous,

    Unfortunately, that was the same reasoning given by my brother. He once told me, “A church building is the last place I want to be.” Jesus understood this very well. In one of His prayers the night before He was crucified, he said, “… that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21 (English Standard Version)

    The question becomes how do we fix this. There seems to be two proposals. One says we should agree to disagree and thus drop most standards. The other says we may only be unified through standards.

    The internet is a great example of how standards help unify (or at least communicate). There were many private networking designs, but the internet took off in popularity due to its standardization in network hardware (Ethernet), communication protocol (tcp/ip) and browser languages (html, xml, etc.).

    We need to standardize on what the Bible really says.

  9. Rob Woodfin Says:

    I was chagrined to read brother Deaver’s opening salvo to his son, where he began immediately to adulterate the actual point of Todd’s previous post and then tear into the straw man argument of “believing anything.” It has taken a while for me to come to grips with how the Contending side of our fellowship could revel with delight in purging the church by whatever means necessary. It has taken less time for me to realize just how much success they are having in removing the imperfect from their midst … in droves. Though I believe this discussion group has been helpful in exploring the differences of today’s two Churches of Christ, this new dynamic of panelists may become too grisly for some to watch, especially for those who have read Todd’s book and sense the love and respect he has for his father, despite differences of opinion.

  10. Here’s a quote from the comments of Phil’s Blog (not Phil himself), relating to the elders of a church saying they were led by the Spirit to include an instrumental service:

    “Blaming the Spirit could lead to many inventions of man in the worship of the church. My facetious answer to the elders would be: Oh Yeah? Well, the Spirit told me for you not to use it.”

    This attitude does not exhibit the heart of God. This is why it is so difficult to have these discussions. To be premeditating facetiousness instead of the love of God is a sign of more than immaturity. It is the very spirit of deviciveness that “progressives” would be accused of.

    It is also an indicator of a perfection-driven religion, where all the right knowledge = salvation. Anything that threatens such dogma becomes worthy of scorn and ridicule.

    Oh, come, Lord Jesus! Clean up your bride for they great day as you promised! Take away hate and bring your love! Put an end to all self-righteousness in your kingdom, so that we may be one, just as you prayed for. For if we can’t even love the brother we can see, how can we love you whom we can not see? Forgive us for shaming you in public with our bickering and strife, and restore to us the joy of our salvation and the truth of your gospel to our lifestyles. Bring humility to the proud, and unity to your church!

  11. Mac,

    First of all thank you so much for stepping in and taking the place of brother Tidwell. It is encouraging to those like myself on the more “Conservative” side of this debate to have you a part of this discussion.

    Despite most of the comments below (folks can we please drop the self-righteous, sarcastic tone and judgmental arrogance by some of those leaving comments–Rob, Brad, they don’t contribute anything to the discussion—especially those who hide under the cloud of “Anonymous”), anway, brother Mac, you did not disappoint in your first entry and have laid some very basic and fundamental principles and truths to hopefully move forward in this discussion and eventually when dealing with more specific questions and issues pertaining to faith and fellowship, they will be useful and provide some platform of agreement.

    First let say in general, truth has truly fallen upon hard times recently and someone needs to call for its correction. Sincerity is important, to be sure. There’s one thing, however, which sincerity cannot do. Sincerity cannot turn error into truth. Walking in light is walking in light; walking in darkness is walking in darkness. No degree of sincerity will change such. Sanctify them in your truth, your word is truth.” (John 17:17)

    Now, let’s talk about “perfectionism.” Today, more and more it just seems that the most common statement we hear regarding perfection today is “no one’s perfect,” and if we think anything otherwise then that eliminates the grace of God and thus our salvation then becomes based on our perfect keeping of the law (God’s commandments). Not so however. We live in a religious climate of extremes (those on far right and those on far left).

    First of all, in Hebrews 5:11-14, the recipients of this letter were criticized for not attaining this perfection: “we have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Heb. 5:11-14)

    The word translated here as “mature” is the same word telios, which is translated “perfect” in other verses. These believers were told that by this time they should be mature; but instead they were still infants. He goes on to state, “Let us leave behind the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity (perfection)” It is also significant to see that this isn’t described as the religion of “supersaints.” It is spoken about and expected of every believer.

    It is possible to attain this perfection (teleios) without being sinless. All of these verses are directed toward people who most definitely were not sinless. We cannot change our past, but we can with God’s help change our future! I personally would not use the term “sinless” in reference to anyone except Christ. Yet this cannot be considered inconsistent with the position and truth of the passage above. The fact that we have sinned does not prove that we have to continue sinning. If I would live the rest of my life without sin (which won’t happen:)! I would not consider it correct to call me sinless, as I cannot deny that I have sinned.

    Now the balance comes from the apostle John clearly giving us the confidence and assurance that: “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:7-10)

    The purpose of the confess found in 1:9 is to get the Christian into a place of being forgiven and cleansed by God and therefore in fellowship with Him, but the purpose of John was obedience. And this, in 1 John, is repeatedly given as the mark of the authentic Christian.

    Walking in the darkness is not a form of inferior Christianity, but is about living as a non-believer; walking in the Light is not being spiritual as a Christian, but is just a description of being a true Christian.

    Obedience or walking in the Light characterizes all true believers, although this does not imply perfection. When the Christian does such, the believer has the assurance of his/her continually being cleansed from all sin and nothing more could be done to accomplish that end other than what Christ has already done for the believer.

    Now, I do want to make an important remark of a “pastoral nature” relating to assurance. Neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian would give assurance to someone who is living in continual sin. The Arminian would say the person might have been saved but lost their salvation, and the Calvinist would say their life is evidence that they never were saved. The point I want to make is that they both would agree that the person, is at present, under condemnation.

    Passages such as those in 1 John make at least this conclusion impossible to escape. While this is often admitted, the connection between assurance and obedience is often left out. There is, however, a very clear connection. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 The question is how do you know that you have a biblical faith. The answer is plain in the context: if you believe in Christ, if you will love the children of God, if overcome the world, and if you cease to continue to sin. “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.” (1 John 2:3) Can anything be simpler then that?

    Now, what I’ve written has by no means practically speaking, really addressed the fellowship questions being addressed here, but this is a web site about Grace Conversation and to the degree my thoughts have helped clarify and bring better understanding between the conservatives and progressives, then I hope they are taken in such light.

    I do hope and pray for any positive progress towards truth in unity that the New Testament advocates.

    In Christ,
    Robert Prater

  12. “folks can we please drop the self-righteous, sarcastic tone and judgmental arrogance by some of those leaving comments–Rob, Brad, they don’t contribute anything to the discussion…” – Robert Prater

    With the emotionless conversation that is internet discussion, the best I can do is offer my sincerest apologies if anything I have said sounds sarcastic. None of it was meant to be. I value this conversation here greatly, as I have explained in many of my posts. Everything I have said here, I believe with all of my heart. I am super sensitive to the topic myself, and try to choose my words carefully. It hurts to know that I offended you, and again I offer my sincerest apologies.

    In this light, perhaps you will consider reading my comments again not as sarcastic, but as soberly as I intended them to be. From the beginning, I have wanted this conversation to be productive, for I have a great desire to see the Churches of Christ reconciled.

    And if everyone else is hearing me as sarcastic when that is not my intent, then I agree it is time to stop participating. Hopefully that has not been the case, and I pray earnestly that anyone who has also heard me as such will read my existing comments in a different light.

    Peace and blessings to you. And may God continue to guide this conversation.

  13. thumper Says:

    From what I read, I believe Mac Deaver’s answer to the first question is:

    No all doctrinal error damns.

    Which begs the question, “What doctrinal errors damn and how does one tell the difference?”

    Seems to be a very important next step.

  14. I think his answer to that question is:

    “Doctrinal error that is clearly personally corruptive, congregationally disruptive, or doctrinally detrimental is condemned (1 Cor. 5:1-8; Tit. 3:10; 11, 2 Tim. 2:18; Gal. 2:5).”

    That would appear to interpret what I would call immorality, divisiveness, and denial of the resurrection. I don’t know what the false brethren of Gal. 2:5 were teaching or how they were spying on the freedom of Christians or how they were trying to make them slaves. I’m guessing they’re the Judaizing, circumcising teachers Paul talks about later in the epistle. This does not seem to be a current challenge to Christians, and I’m unclear why the reference to it is made. (Except, of course, procedurally – not giving in to them for a moment – as a way of dealing with doctrinal error.)

    So, to me, the next step is … Who determines when one or more of these three lines has been crossed?

  15. thumper Says:


    I don’t see IM directly referenced in his list. Who then is divisive? The ones who introduced it or the ones who objected?

    Same question then arises about support of orphans homes by congregations, building of gyms, praise teams, etc.

    Which is how we got into our current state of confusion.

  16. Alan Says:

    But what we know to be truth we are obligated to respect, and we must live in the light of that knowledge. …. However, we can arrive at personal “completionism” that entails walking in the light of what we know.

    If you believe that, and carry it to its logical conclusion, there isn’t much left to argue about. By that rule, we’d be in fellowship with everyone who lives up to the portion of truth that they know. That would include instrumental and non-instrumental Christians as long as those people are not violating their own consciences.

    Cessation followed later by another attack would not in and of itself prove that repentance had not earlier occurred. We are not told how much time there must be between acts in order for repentance to have occurred. It is not a matter of time as such. It is a matter of attitude toward the deed.

    For the sake of discussion, let me point out that Jesus said to forgive even if our brother sins against us seven times in a day. If he merely says “I repent,” we are to take his word for it that he repents. That doesn’t necessarily mean that God accepts their statement, but he clearly instructed us to accept it. We can’t see the heart. And a frequency of repetition of the sin, seven times in a day, is not sufficient evidence to justify our refusing to accept their statement of repentance at face value. God clearly wants us to err on the side of acceptance and forgiveness, not law and judgment.

  17. “Personal completionism” is not a term I’m familiar with … nor do I find it fully defined above. The passages cited (Philippians 3:15, 16, John 8:32 and John 7:17) – even in context of the full chapters – are not helping illuminate the concept for me.

    Is this somehow related to persevering through trials and asking God for wisdom (James 1:4) or faith and actions working together to complete us (James 2:22)?

    I’m really not trying to be obstinate … I just don’t understand the concept. Can somebody help me?

  18. Dusty Chris Says:

    It seems to me that Jesus had as much or more condemnation for those whose doctrine was perfect as those who had imperfect or corrupted doctrine. Both are inventions of the human tendency to “do it ourselves.” We cannot have an uncorrupted doctrine…period. Those who think their doctrine is perfect is in as much sin as those who have a corrupted docrine. We all have a doctrine corrupted by pride, fleshly emotions and personal interpretations….we can either acknowledge that or delude ourselves into thinking we have it correct.

    The same goes with truth, repenting and sincerity (and every other spiritual ideal). That is the point of grace. WE CAN’T GET IT RIGHT…and because of that, grace fills in the gaps created by imperfect doctrine, imperfect truth, imperfect repentance and imperfect sincerity. All doctrine condemns us because we can not live up to the perfectionistic goals it espouses and if we do, then we are condemned because, then, it is by our own efforts without God’s grace. We can not be saved without the grace of God.

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