Obedience to Moral law cannot be partial. There are two things that we intend to show regarding this concept:
- We will show what constitutes obedience to the moral law.
- We will further show that obedience cannot be partial by which we mean that the moral agent can never partly obey and partly disobey moral law at the same time. It is all or nothing.
- We will further conclude from the two above that obedience which cannot be partial is also obedience that cannot be temporary for the same reasons. Obedience entire is also obedience permanent.
What constitutes obedience to moral law.
As we have seen, disinterested benevolence is all that the spirit of the moral law requires. It is love to God and our neighbor in the form of willing the highest good or well-being of both God and our neighbor. It is willing this good for its own sake by consecration of all powers that are under the control of the moral agent to this very end. Obedience to the moral law means entire consecration to this end. If that is the case, can there be consecration to this end be real while it is at the same time partial or not entire? That brings us to the second part of our discussion:
Obedience cannot be partial. A moral being cannot partly obey and partly disobey all at the same time.
When one speaks of consecration or obedience to moral law, they mean that to be real it must be entire and universal. There is a simplicity of moral action, namely, it is all or nothing. We mean wholly conformed or wholly not conformed to moral law. As we explore this further we will look at two distinct areas:
- Can the will make opposite choices at the same time? Can it choose the highest good of being as an ultimate end and at the same time choose the opposite? Can it make any choices that are inconsistent with the ultimate choice of highest good?
- Next is to look at the strength or intensity of the choice itself. If there is one ultimate choice, not two, can the intensity be less intense or efficient than it should be if one is wholly conformed to moral law?
Let’s examine these in the same order.
Can the will make opposite choices at the same time? Can a person choose something inconsistent with the ultimate end in view? Let’s make some observations:
- When one talks of the ultimate end they are talking about what must be the supreme preference of the mind. Sin is a supreme desire for self-gratification while holiness is a supreme desire for the good of being. Can these two opposite ultimate preferences co-exist in the mind at the same time? No, it is impossible to make opposite choices at the same time, to choose conflicting ends.
- We have previously shown that all intelligent choice is for the purpose of some ultimate end or means. The choice is equal to the intention. A choice means that something has been intended or chosen. The thing chosen is also chosen for its own sake as an end in and of itself or for the sake of something else that is related to this end or means. If this not so the choice is not intelligent, yet we are talking about the intelligent choice of a moral agent.
- Our conclusion from these truths is that no choice can ever be made that is inconsistent with the current choice of an ultimate end. The mind could never choose two opposite ultimate ends at the same time. It is either one or the other. This means that one can never choose one ultimate end and then while in the course of acting with that end in view, make another choice of the opposite or use the means to secure the opposite. When we speak of choice being means or ends and that a person can make one ultimate choice at a time, then it follows that while in the course of one ultimate end the mind cannot choose anything inconsistent with that choice. The reason is that the mind, while in pursuit of a certain end, is using whatever means it can to accomplish that end. That would mean that before the mind can will the means to secure another ultimate end, it would have to change its choice to another ultimate end itself. From these statements it would follow that if the soul of man chooses the highest well-being of God and of the universe as the ultimate end, it cannot at the same time that this choice is in operation choose any other means to another end. That means that while choosing the highest well-being of God and the universe, the mind could never choose self-gratification or any other end at the same time. It couldn’t be inconsistent with the end that it has chosen. The only way a change can be made is to change the ultimate end and when that is done, new means may be used to secure that new ultimate end. That means that only when a new ultimate end has been chosen, only then can new means to that end be used or chosen and not before. From this it should be plainly seen that obedience to the moral law cannot be partial or less than complete for the same reason that the mind can not go in two opposite directions at the same time. This is what makes the Bible so true when it says, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon….” One could never will the good of being as the ultimate end and then at the same time want self-gratification as the ultimate end. You cannot be selfish and loving at the same time. Until self-gratification is the ultimate end, the means to arrive at self-gratification will never be used. No one can choose the highest good of being and self-gratification at the same time as opposite ultimate ends.
Next we want to speak of the strength or intensity of the choice.
The question at hand is if one can choose an end, if the choice can be real, and then can that choice have less than the required intensity. Simply put, can a person make a weak-hearted choice of an ultimate end? What degree of intensity or strength is required? What is the criterion that would decide this intensity? If we are choosing an infinite end, we could never use infinite strength, so that could not be what is meant since we are only human. However, we can exert all that our human strength allows, all that is within our own powers. The question is, can we choose the right end but with only part of the strength that would be required to reach that end? Can a person make an honest choice and then be less than intense or energetic in that choice? To better understand what we are saying, a person needs to perceive the end in order to choose that end. In order to perceive the end, there must be “light” to understand the choice. The person cannot exceed the light that they have, it is obvious, since they can only go by the present value the mind gives to the choice. The degree of obligation in this case is based upon the degree of light and it cannot exceed the degree of light. The degree of the obligation is equal to the mind’s estimate of the value of the end. This is the doctrine of that Bible, namely, that the mind is honest only when it devotes its strength to the end in view with an intensity directly in proportion to the value of the end chosen.
As we have said, the mind cannot make an ultimate choice that is inconsistent with the will of the person. For the reasons we have said here, if the end is not chosen with an intensity equal to the value of the present light, it is because some part of the intensity is withheld and perhaps another end is really in view. A person in this mind set chooses an end but not with all their strength. The question before us on this point is this: did the person make an honest choice since he is not using all his strength to reach the end represented by that choice? The answer is no, it is not an honest choice!
How absurd is it to choose an ultimate end and then not to concentrate all ones strength to that end. When you speak of an ultimate end you are implying that this ultimate end is the only thing for which you will live and act so that you live and act for nothing else as an ultimate end. Now do we mean that when we choose an ultimate end that we must strain to keep our will on this end at all times to the point that we get stressed out to keep up this intensity? If that is what God meant, one would get stressed out, but that is not the meaning. God does not expect the mind and will be strained at every moment to have the end in view in every moment of every day without end. If that were the case then even Jesus did not obey this moral law. In reality, moral law is merely honesty of intention and it needs just that degree of intensity, from time to time, that is necessary to meet what judgment reveals is the amount of intensity required. In the Bible, sincerity or honesty of intention is known as moral perfection. That is why God say, “be ye perfect as I am perfect.” The Bible words uprightness, sincerity, holiness, honesty, and perfection have exactly the same meaning in this case.
Further, if the mind chooses an ultimate end, then with that choice it will concentrate all its time, strength, and being to that end. Thus, while the choice remains the mind will choose and act with an intensity that conforms its ability and the best light it has. The intensity of the choice will correspond to the view that the soul has of the importance of that choice or it would not be real and honest. No one could use full strength of will and full intensity at all times and still feel that it is one’s duty. The judgment of the mind would be that the intensity cannot exceed the limit of ones endurance. Our minds are so constituted that they will not let the intensity exceed our endurance. They will let us accomplish the most good on a whole and not in a given moment.
Back to the question – does God’s law really only require uprightness of intention? Or, does the law of God also require that a certain degree of intensity exist at every moment once a choice is made? When we say that one should love the Lord God with all the heart, and all the soul, and all the mind, and all the strength, does it mean that that a person should consecrate all his energies for every moment, every hour, every day, week, month, and year with all of the energies that the mind can muster within it’s natural capability and within reason but without any strain? Or, does it mean that all the faculties of body mind, consciousness and attention strain to this end to the uttermost? Also, does it require that the whole being be consecrated to and used up for God with the best economy for which the soul is capable? Or, does it require it require that the whole being be not only consecrated to God, but used up without any regard to economy and without the soul being required to exercise any judgment or discretion? To ask it in another way, is the law of God a law of reason, or is it a law of folly? Is it intelligible and just in its demands? Or, is it perfectly unintelligible and unjust in its demands? To put it another way still, does the law of God ask something that is suited to the nature, relations, circumstances, and environment of moral beings? Or, does the law of God have no regard to these things? Then, if the law of God has no regard to the strain that it would put on a moral being can it really be a moral law and impose any moral obligation whatsoever?
The answer is that the Law of God requires all our powers, strength, and being, to be honestly and continually consecrated to God, but not held in a state of continued tension. It is rather only required that the mind be employed and expended in a way that the best judgment be used in an economy of God that matches the saying, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” or, “There remaineth a rest unto the people of God.” If God required that we hold our minds, our hearts and our souls in a state of tension at every moment to keep his law we could never bear up under the pressure. This would never be considered justice, utility, reason, or wisdom and would not be suited to our nature and relations. The Bible may say love God with all the heart, mind, soul, and strength, but it does not require constant and intense action for the following reasons:
- A person would never know whether they had obeyed the command for a single moment, not to mention every day, hour, week, month, and year. How would they know that more tension is not required?
- For God to require such a thing, he would be completely unreasonable and certainly not disinterestedly benevolent in requiring that the mind remain in a state that would be unendurable.
- Such a state of tension that would strain the faculties would have no possible use at all.
- Such a requirement would not be economical; it would not be the best management of one’s strength and powers.
- Christ obeyed the moral law but he was not under a constant strain from it.
- We know that the intensity of the will’s action relates to the clarity with which the value of the object of the mind is perceived and chosen. No reasonable person, not to mention the loving God, would expect the mind to be in a continual state of intensity with no let up. The mind, instead, comprehends a truth, assesses the value morally, and then acts with the degree of intensity that matches the value of the truth perceived in a natural and relaxed but virtuous way. It only varies as the comprehension of the “light” it receives varies, and yet it is always motivated by the same desire for the good of being which never varies.
On the other hand, we state that an intention cannot be right and honest and yet comparably deficient in the degree of intensity so that the “light” that is received is met with a degree of intensity that manifests less value than the “light” that created it would require. Let’s make some suggestions relating to this point:
When one speaks of an intention that is right in kind but lacking in intensity what do we mean? Are we talking simply about intention that terminates on a proper object? Would it be right if the proper object were chosen and yet there is a voluntary holding back in the energy to match the “light” regarding that choice? Is a person being honest when they indicate a certain choice but hold back? No, then what is honest intention? Can it be honest to withhold from God and man what we know to be due to both? Is it a contradiction of moral values to call such a choice honest? With these thoughts in mind, under what circumstances can a choice be made without the proper degree of intensity to fulfill that choice? Under no circumstances unless being dishonest is moral. Let me ask, what do we mean by deficiency in intensity? I answer that if you know something to be moral and you withhold or draw back after making the choice so that the energy of the choice does not match the intensity of the means used to reach that choice or goal, then it is sin.
Moral character is always wholly right or wholly wrong, and never partly right and partly wrong at the same time. – Finney in the Oberlin Evangelist.
Inasmuch as holiness consists in the ultimate intention, so does sin. Holiness is choosing the highest well-being of God and the universe as the ultimate end of pursuit. On the other hand sin consists in pursuing self-gratification and self-interest as the supreme ultimate intention of pursuit. When we hold back the intensity to a greater good for our own good, which is less, then it is sin. All selfishness is a supreme ultimate intention chosen for the sake of its own end and not a means to an end or even to some other end. When moral beings choose their own gratification, interest, or good in preference to a higher good because they are choosing their own good, then they are choosing their own good as an end, for its own sake, and as an ultimate end. They are not intending to promote some higher end, and they are not using the promotion of their own end in the interest of promoting a higher end. What this person is doing is sin, an act of the will that is preferring self-gratification, or self-interest to the authority of God, the glory of God, and the good of the universe. This is the same thing that Adam and Eve did in the garden; it is a supreme ultimate choice of self as the ultimate choice or intention of life.
We can conclude, then, that sin and holiness consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices, or intentions so that they can never by any possibility co-exist. Now we want to examine this philosophy in more detail and bring it into the light of the Bible. We can make 5 suppositions:
- Suppose that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind.
- Suppose that a choice or act can be complex in character and in the motives that induce the choice.
- Suppose that a choice or act can be right in kind but deficient in degree or intensity.
- Suppose that the heart, or will, may be right while the affections and emotions are wrong.
- Suppose that a ruling, latent and actually existing holy preference exists with holy intentions co-exists with opposing volitions.
Unless one of these suppositions is true, then we have to say that moral character is either wholly right or wholly wrong and never partly right or wrong at the same time. Let’s see:
Suppose selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind. It is stated that both selfishness and benevolence are supreme, ultimate, choices or intentions that also happen to be exactly opposite. These two cannot possibly co-exist in ones mind at the same time.
Suppose a moral choice or act can be complex in character and in the motives that induce the choice. Regarding complexity of motives we state the following:
- Motives are either objective or subjective with objective motives being external to the mind that induces the choice, and the subjective motive is the intention itself.
- Character does not belong to the objective motive since it only induces the choice but to the subjective motive which is the actual choice or intention itself. There are many objective motives, also called considerations, that may have directly or indirectly influenced a choice or intention. These may be a person, the Bible, God, the Holy Spirit, or a preacher. However the subjective motive or intention is always simple and cannot be divided. It consists of the choice of an ultimate end, chosen for its own sake which is what makes it an ultimate end. If the end chosen is the highest well-being of God and the good of the universe and if it be willing and intending to promote and treat every interest in the universe according to perceived relative value, then it is a right and holy intention. This choosing the highest good to God and the universe is complete, entire and permanent or it is sinful and not really a moral choice at all. While there may be complexities in the objective considerations that lead to the ultimate choice, yet when the choice is made it one, simple, indivisible and permanent choice that will never be revoked or it was never complete to begin with.
- It matters not how complex the considerations are that led to the ultimate choice, in the end the mind can have only one ultimate choice which is the intrinsic value of the thing chosen. When one considers the highest well-being of God and of the universe, every good according to its perceived relative value, the choice is always made for one and only one reason, the intrinsic value of the good chosen for its own sake. If chosen for any reason, it is not virtuous. A point must be made that any attempt to state that a choice is complex is really hiding the fact that the choice is in some way flawed, not simple, not for the intrinsic value of the end and not permanent. Sin is always devious and tries to hide behind a cloud while virtue is plain, simple and transparent showing a choice of the ultimate good with no hint of mixture or weakness. The very term “disinterested” indicates that there is no hint of self involved and the choice, willing or intending the good of God and the universe and that is why we sake for its own sake since nothing is there that indicates a selfish reason. Thus it cannot ever be complex. It is either a simple ultimate permanent choice or it is nothing. If after this someone can say that a choice or ultimate intention may be partly holy and partly sinful, we state the next:
- One says that several things may be aimed at or intended at the same time, what things? There may be necessary means which could include several different means but the ultimate choice can only be one simple, ultimate and permanent choice. Multiple means does not result in multiple ends. There can be only one end in view. It is either sin or holiness.
- Someone says that the choice may be partly disinterestedly benevolent and partly selfish, partly holy and partly sinful but this is absurd. The very definition of disinterested indicates that there is no element of self involved or it would be “interested” which would mean that there is some benefit to self. So by definition, no interest to self can by any means be even considered or it is still sinful. Remember we are talking about a supreme ultimate choice. While most moral agents are in this world as selfish beings, when they finally make the choice of the ultimate intention of the good of God and the Universe, it has an objective influence of the Holy Spirit that will never go away, and the resulting subjective choice or intention is quite ultimate and quite permanent. If there is any hint of self-interest or self-gratification so that in some things one intends to promote selfish interests, the only conclusion that can be made is that the ultimate choice was never the intrinsic value of God and the universe in the first place. The only complexity about an ultimate choice is the many ways or means that the choice may be used to promote that one simple choice. But in the end result it is either holiness or sin that is the supreme ultimate choice or intention. Also a chance from supreme selfishness to disinterested benevolence is permanent or it was not complete or singular.
- It cannot be partly disinterestedly benevolent and partly selfish which would mean that it is partly holy and partly sinful. I think that it is already clear that these cannot coexist. They are supreme, opposite, ultimate choices or intentions. It is either one or the other. There is no such thing as a complex intention. The only intention that is complex is one that is selfish while making a show of being benevolent. When it comes to the simple promotion of God and the good of the universe the simplicity is beyond dispute.
- The third supposition is that holiness may be right, pure in kind and yet deficient in degree. We say the following:
- Moral character is ultimate intention.
- Suppose that intention is right but deficient in strength. The only thing that could cause that is a seed of selfishness. Only sin can weaken the degree of virtue and nothing else.
- Let’s try the intention by the law of God in respect to kind and degree.
- Every interest in the universe is chosen according to its perceived relative value and for its own sake. That means that all our powers are supremely and disinterestedly devoted to the glory of God and the good of the universe.
- This being said, at no time is there a strain or hint of tension since this would be inconsistent with natural ability. This would be a natural impossibility and that would be unjust.
- We are not saying that at all times, and on all subjects that the same degree of exertion must be made since the intensity of mental exertion is not required to still be ultimate intention.
- Moral law cannot require more than that the whole being be consecrated to God and that we intent to honestly will or intend to promote every interest according to the perceived relative value to our best ability.
- The degree of intensity is directly proportional to our knowledge or light of the object of choice. More light, more intensity or else our intensity exceeds the natural ability to receive knowledge or light.
- The importance that we attach to objects of choice relates to the degree of the intenseness of the intention. This is all dependent upon either the clarity or obscurity of our view of the relative value of objects of choice.
- We don’t measure our views by those of God and His importance of the object of choice. As God reveals more light obviously the value and also the moral obligation increases. No moral being is bound to will any moral issue with the same degree of strength that God wills it for the simple reason that no mortal creature sees the real importance or value that God himself puts on any moral issue. If we were bound to see things exactly as God sees them we could never be moral agents. We could never meet the demands of moral obligation. Further, we cannot measure our obligation by the views or knowledge of angels in their view of the intrinsic value of the glory of God, the value of a soul and the good of the universe. It is nature and relations. We don’t have the nature of angels nor the knowledge through their relationship to God in heaven which gives them a completely different light to that which we have here on earth.
- Also, the obligation of heathen peoples cannot be measured by the knowledge and light of a Christian.
- In a similar way the obligation of a child cannot be the same as that of a grown man or woman.
- The truth is that the respective obligations of different moral beings are on a graduated basis based on the knowledge of the moral agent.
- This all being said, the measure of the obligation or intention is equal to the views, knowledge and relative value of the object of choice and when chosen based on this value it is right. It is the judgment of the moral agent based upon his “light” which makes him able to know the intensity of his obligation. His obligation can be no more than this or it would contradict the true nature of moral law. His yoke is easy, his burden is light.
- Our conscious honest intention is based on the kind and degree of intention which is according to the degree of our light that we possess so that our obligation to obey moral law based on this light and intention is entirely obedient on that basis. Entire obedience can be no more than what one is capable of or there is no one in the whole universe that could be entirely obedient. All one can do is to will or intend what they understand and by the natural judgment that one has as a natural human being relative to his light and nature and relations.
- If it were ever found that we are required to do more than what is required or that we could understand by the light that we have it would be a contradiction of moral justice and absurd in every way.
- No one can charge himself or herself with any blame or fault when they are conscious of honestly intending, willing, or choosing and acting according to the best light that he or she possesses. In this case the law is obeyed as it is understood so that the moral agent cannot consider himself condemned by the law.
- Good intentions to God are to be at all times supreme and in respect to other beings it is in proportion to the relative value of happiness of that being as perceived in the mind. This is always the intention and all efforts to promote these may vary in intensity, depending on the duty to which we are called.
- When we say that willing good according to the perceived value is virtue, we can say that it is perfect virtue or moral perfection. These are synonymous terms. Virtue is holiness and holiness is uprightness. This uprightness is no more or less than what a person should do under a given set of circumstances. Nothing else is virtue, holiness, or uprightness. The terms virtue, holiness, uprightness, and moral perfection are all synonymous terms. That is why when one says that virtue, holiness, uprightness or justice is right in kind but deficient in degree they are talking nonsense. Why not just say sinful holiness or unjust justice or wrong rightness, or impure purity, or imperfect perfection, or disobedient obedience.
- Virtue, holiness, uprightness, etc., mean something definite. Nothing else can be conformity to the law of God. Anything that is not entirely conformed to the law of God is not holiness. The Bible says it this way, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” It is as if this verse were written in the Bible for our use here. could never call something holy which is defective in degree.
- Unless every perceived interest is willed or intended according to its relative value, for the time being, there is no virtue. However, where this intention exists there is no sin.
- The next supposition is that the will or heart may be right while the affections or emotions are wrong.
- The problem with this supposition is that it misses the definition of moral Character as it respects moral law. Moral law means supreme ultimate intention of the mind which is also stated as supreme disinterested benevolence, good-willing, or intention which is the whole of virtue. This intention originates in the will or volition which controls and directs the attention of the mind in all things including thoughts, emotions, or affections. The will or volition is also what produces bodily action. Moral character, however, does not lie in outward actions, movement of arms, muscles because that volition is finished when the bodily movement is finished. Moral character relates to the intention that produced the volition, that moved the muscles that resulted in the outward act. Intention produces volition and this directs the attention to a given object. This attention produces thoughts, affections, and emotions. They are all connected to the volition. Attention given to a certain object produces certain emotions as a result; it is only a matter of course. That means that emotions are no more the root of moral character than outward actions since it is intentions that produce both. It was the intention that produced the attention which, in turn, produced the action and the emotion. Now our supposition that the volition or intention may be right and the emotion that is produced by the intention may be wrong is shown to be an impossibility. Moral character is as the intention is. The outward action cannot be other than the intention. The emotions cannot be other than the intention. That means that the intention could never be right and the emotions or actions wrong or vice versa. If, for some reason, an emotion or physical action is in direct opposition to the intention in some way, such as a spontaneous emotion or action that has nothing to do with intention, then it has nothing to do with moral character since the person cannot control such emotion or intention. One can’t make the case that the intention was right and the emotion was wrong. When intention does not control the physical or emotional, it cannot control at all. A person’s whole character is and must be as his intention is and nothing more or less. That even means if temptations come from some quarter and produce emotions that are inconsistent with intention, emotions which he cannot control, he is not responsible for them.
- Further, when emotions which are contrary to intentions, may, by circumstances beyond ones control, be brought to exist in the mind, the moral being may through control of his mind divert the attention of the mind in such a way that the thing that brought the emotion is eliminated from the mind. When this happens as soon as it can be done, there is no sin. If the thought is dwelt on and not removed from the mind when it could have been, then the intention is not a right intention. The intention of every moral being should be to devote the whole being to the service of God and to the good of the universe. While doing that they are to avoid every thought, affection, and emotion that is inconsistent with this. As long as the intention exists, whether or not there is something that produces thoughts and emotions inconsistent with the ultimate intention, the attention of the mind will be instantly diverted so that the hated emotion is hushed as much as possible. So long as the intention exists, the corresponding emotions will exist. Thus there cannot be a right intention and wrong emotion which is sinful. Emotions are not sinful in themselves and when temptation produces emotions that are against the intention, the soul is not responsible for these emotions. If we intend the right thing and for some reason the proper emotion does not come, we are not responsible because our intention was right. We are not to blame for not feeling or doing what we cannot feel or do by intending it. If our intentions are right, then we are morally right.
- The last supposition says that a latent preference, a right intention, may co-exist with opposing sinful volitions. Though some may believe this to be true, we state that it cannot be true as follows:
- The supposition is that intention, ruling preference, may be right, existing as an active and virtuous state of mind but at the same time volition may be just the opposite.
- Think about it, what is right intention? It is willing, which is choosing, intending the highest good of God and of the universe, promoting this at every moment to the extent of ones ability. Right intention is, then, disinterested benevolence. What are the elements that enter into this right intention?
- The choice or willing of every interest according to its perceived intrinsic value.
- Devoting our entire being, now and forever, to this end, which is right intention. Now can an intention co-exist with a volition that is inconsistent with the intention? The truth is that intentions and volitions are practically the same thing. They work together as one, not separately. The supposition is completely wrong. The only possible explanation is that that the holy being drops the exercise of supreme, benevolent intention and then goes to the opposite state of choice. When he does this he ceases to be benevolent and becomes selfish for the time being. Now we will answer some questions that relate to this supposition and then examine the Bible relating to this question.
Does a Christian cease to be a Christian whenever he commits a sin?
- Whenever a Christian sins, he seems to be no longer holy, but a Christian would not be a Christian if the ultimate intention were not the Glory of God and the good of the universe. That being the case, a true Christian would never stay in a state of sin very long since his overall permanent intention is for the good of being. Also, a Christian not only has his subjective choice or intention internally but he also has the objective motive of the Holy Spirit which a non-Christian does not have. This would preclude a Christian from being in a state of sin for any extended period of time or his ultimate intention was never right in the beginning which means he was never a Christian.
- Temptations, which result in sins, are tests by God of the overall character of the ultimate intention. Whenever a Christian sins, however, he should consider himself condemned. He should consider that he has incurred the wrath of God. His only escape is to repent and confess his sins. God must treat the Christian as if he were a lost person in this condition or God has abrogated the law. That would mean that God has no rule of duty and is not sinful or holy. The Christian will not feel justified any longer than he obeys and God will condemn him when he disobeys. If he has truly intended the good of God and the universe as his ultimate intention which is permanent and only temporarily interrupted by sin, the objective influence of the Holy Spirit will lead to repentance and confession or the Christian is not really a Christian after all. As Hebrews says, “Let us therefore fear, lest the promise being left us of entering into rest, some of you should seem to come short of it.” Too many supposed Christians want to appease their conscience by getting scripture verses that bolster their security when they need to repent to show that they are truly intending the ultimate good, namely the Glory of God.
- If a “Christian” sins and does not repent and “do his first works” he will perish, not because he lost his salvation but because he was never saved. Ultimate intention is forever. If the seemingly ultimate intention ceases to exist in the life of a person, then they have proven that the ultimate choice was false so that they eventually “returned to their own vomit” and went back to “wallowing in the mire.”
- Until a Christian repents he is not forgiven. It is at that time that the Christian and the sinner appear to be on the exact same ground. It is best not to trifle with God. A “Christian” should “make his calling and election sure.” We would not presume to say that a person is not saved since only God san say that, but you should feel so bad that you can’t sleep until you have gotten things right with God or you may have a more serious problem than you thought. Ultimate intention is consistently the Glory of God and the good of the universe. When an occasional selfish choice occurs, the fact that ultimate intention is permanent will cause the Christian to repent or he will perish. He is not saved.
- There are two areas where a sinning Christian differs from the unconverted sinner:
In the relation to God. A Christian is a child of God. A sinning Christian is a disobedient child of God. An unsaved man is a child of the devil. A Christian has a covenant relation with God which states that God will discipline him and attempt to bring him back to reclaim his life when he wanders away from God. “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Psa_89:30-34.
The difference between the sinner and the Christian is in the state of the spirit. A Christian knows that the Holy Spirit dwells in His spirit. Even though this is true, moral Character is based upon the choice of the will, the ultimate intention which promotes the right choices in us. The feelings, or emotions, can, through temptation, promote wrong choices, but the spirit which is influenced objectively by the Holy Spirit promotes right choices. This gives a Christian an advantage over the lost man since the unsaved have no objective guide through the Holy Spirit.
Can a man be born again, and then be unborn?
- If that were the case then the ultimate choice is flawed since the “Christian” is no longer intending the ultimate good of God and the Universe but he is now intending self with no intention to repent. He may be Christian in name but if he is a genuine Christian, he will persevere or there would be no virtue in perseverance. Perseverance is part of what shows the ultimate choice as being permanent. If a person draws back, God has no delight in that person, which means that there is no genuine salvation. I John says one that is born again “cannot sin.” He will repent or he is not saved.
- When the Holy Spirit comes in, the promise is that he will never leave or forsake the believer. This has nothing to do with what some term, “Physical regeneration” but it does mean that the spirit of a man now has the added influence of the Holy Spirit, will never leave forever.
- If regeneration does consist in a change in the ruling preference of the mind, the ultimate intention, then this ultimate intention is permanent or the person was not saved. However, as we said earlier, temptations may come that cause the emotions to influence a temporary intention to sin but when the emotion wears away, the former ultimate intention will cause the person to repent since a ultimate intention is a permanent intention.
- That a person is able to apostatize is true as recorded in the Bible, but that is only a proof that the permanent ultimate intention was never permanent and thus lacking in character. The person, though some feel it is a Christian that becomes lost, does become lost. The truth is, however, that he was never saved since he never had a permanent ultimate intention to will the intrinsic value of God and the universe as his ultimate and permanent intention. It did not last. He did not persevere. He was an apostate. He will burn in hell.
- A Christian may certainly fall into sin and even temporary unbelief and then afterwards be renewed, both to repentance and faith. In fact, if he does not do so, he was never really saved. He had no perseverance. He apostatized proving that his ultimate intention was not really ultimate or permanent.
Can there be no such thing as weak faith, weak love, and weak repentance?
- A Christian can be comparatively weak but not in the sense that the faith is partly ultimate intention of disinterested benevolence and partly selfish. Faith, repentance, love, and every other Christian virtue does consist in acts of the will and always resolve themselves into some form of that supreme disinterested benevolence that we have spoken of. We will speak of the nature of faith later. Faith, in order to be real, must embrace all the truth that is given by the “light” of God at any given time.
- There is a possibility that various causes can operate that will divert the mind from faith or to perceive less of the truths that strengthen faith.
- In this way faith may be weak simply because there is limited light. However if there is light and the “faith” is so weak as to be sinful, then it may not be true faith. If a person has faith according to his present light, he is doing his duty.
- Faith may be weak in relation to truth perceived when the confidence is shaken for some reason. This does not mean there is sin but that the truth perceived is weak. Then when the truth is strengthened, the faith gets stronger. Faith and sin do not co-exist.
- Faith may be weak in respect to ignorance or prejudices which affect the view of the object. The disciples of Jesus went through weak times in their faith because they did not know much about Jesus and yet as they gained knowledge their faith became stronger. The greatest building of their faith was the resurrection of Christ. That cleared up all prejudices and gave them a view of the Son of God as no other truth had until that date. They never again went back into sin and all of them died the death of a martyr.
But did not the disciples pray, “Increase our faith?
- Yes, and obviously they had an ultimate intention or they would not have prayed as they did. They wanted to enlighten the understanding of the mind which would increase faith. Apprehended truth is what creates increased faith. This type of “weak” faith is not mixed with sin.
But did not one person say to Jesus, “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief”? Was he exercising faith and unbelief at the same time?
- Yes, this was said but it is not a mixture of sin and virtue.
- He was obviously asking for knowledge which would increase faith. He calls his lack of knowledge “unbelief” but that does not mean that he was intending selfish interest as the ultimate intention.
- He was only asking for a degree of light that would remove doubts about the divine power of Christ.
This philosophy seems to contradict Christian experience, is that true?
It does no such thing. We only have a false view of experience since we don’t really know the heart of many. The only way to know the truth is through the Bible. No other way is sure.
This seems true in theory but not in fact.
So many times we make the mistake of listening to reasoning of the mind when the simple truth of the spirit’s intuition is more reliable. When you begin to try to understand spiritual truth with the intellect of the soul rather than the intuition of the spirit it will always be a problem. True spiritual truth is always by revelation rather than logic and reasoning.
Let’s now go to the Bible and what it says regarding these things:
- The Bible assumes the simplicity of moral actions. Jesus said that his disciples cannot serve God and Mammon. This means that one cannot serve both at the same time as we have been saying.
- James says, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” He is saying that one sin is inconsistent with the spirit of the law and is inconsistent with any degree of holiness existing with it. The Bible also says, “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig-tree, my brethren, bear olive-berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt-water and fresh,” Jam_3:11-12. We see it here again, the two cannot exist at the same time, not at different times.
- Christ taught that entire obedience and renouncing selfishness is true virtue. “Except a man forsake all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
- Many statements in the Bible show that nothing is regarded as virtue but obedience to God.
- A concept that claims that holiness and sin can co-exist is virtually Antinomianism and a rejection of the law of God as the standard of duty. This is to maintain that something is holiness which does not include disinterested benevolence or the devotion of the whole being to God permanently. This is the rejection of the law of God.
- The thought that sin and holiness can co-exist in the same mind is absurd. It overlooks what defines holiness, obedience to the law of God and nothing else. We mean entire obedience as explained earlier, intending the good of God and the universe. Anything else is not virtue.
Some final remarks:
- Some say that the simplicity of moral action and the advocates of entire sanctification have only resorted to a theory in order to carry out their principles.
- This theory is held by those that believe in entire sanctification and those that don’t.
- Entire sanctification does not depend upon philosophical theory for support but rather on the Bible, describing holiness.
Growth in grace means two things:
- The stability or permanence of holy ultimate intention.
- They grow in intensity and in strength. As a Christian gains knowledge, they grow in grace.
- The theory of a mixed character relating to moral actions is a dangerous theory. It leads those who believe it to think that their acts of rebellion also contain holiness while they are in the very act of committing sin. It leads people who have a less than permanent ultimate intention think, wrongly, that they are saved while they still have selfishness as their ultimate goal in reality. This type of thinking makes the standard of conversion or regeneration very low since it allows some to think that they can be slaves of sin while they are “trusting” in Jesus Christ.
- What can be more dangerous than to say that while we are in a conscious state of selfish intention or sin, that we are somehow acceptable to God. How absurd this doctrine is.
- This philosophy also makes people see the facts in the wrong light. They think that they are guilty of present sin when they are really not so, but they are in a state of acceptance with God.
- It is horrible the way that people talk as they are still a slave of sin and at the same time claim to be a Christian. Christians say that they sin in their most holy exercises which is not true. It is injurious to their faith and dangerously false. The fact is that holiness is holiness and we miss the fact that ultimate intention is what holiness is and we make a big mistake in saying that holiness co-exists with living in a state of sin. It just is not so.
- What this wicked reasoning does is to give people who know that they are living in sin the hope that they are saved when their ultimate intention is purely selfish and they have only a show of holiness that is more an act than it is a truth based in the facts of their lives. No one can live in a true state of selfishness and at the same time be accepted by God. In fact, the nature and definition of repentance is to turn from selfishness to disinterested benevolence as we will see later.
I want to conclude this by saying to the reader that what seems impossible with man is possible with God. The one ingredient that will make a Christian’s ultimate intention comply with what we have said here in being total and permanent is the reception of the Holy Spirit into the life. When that happens there is not only an objective influence that the Holy Spirit uses to bring outside circumstances to bear on us that will influence the mind toward the ultimate intention and then the Holy Spirit will also work subjectively through the spirit into the mind to make sure that the ultimate intention is constantly brought to the mind of the repentant Christian. This influence causes a Christian to confess their sins daily and as we believe that repentance starts on the day of salvation, the Holy Spirit continually works in the spirit of as man to bring the scripture to the mind and to influence the ultimate intention. This repentance then continues until the day that the Christian goes home to be with Jesus. The tell-tale sign that a person is not really a Christian is if the seeming ultimate intention is either partial or it does not last then it would be a sign that the Holy Spirit has not come in and the person is definitely only performing an act. That would mean that the whole charade is merely a show of utter selfishness and will result in a person being cast into hell.
John 10:27-29 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (28) And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (29) My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
John 14:16-17 ”And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (17) Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
John 15:26 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:”
Romans 8:15-16 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
Romans 8:26-28 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
The point should be made that until a person comes to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, they can never will the goodness of God and of the universe because the whole foundation of their life is totally self and selfish interests. For that reason, any attempt to make a show that they have come to God when, in fact, they have not will be ultimately seen in the fact that their ultimate intention is both incomplete and temporary. It is only when the ultimate intention is genuine that the Holy Spirit comes in. That also is what is meant by believing with the heart since the heart is where the ultimate intention is known. Persons believe with their heart when they see the intrinsic value of God and the goodness of God first. They then almost immediately begin to see as God sees since they now have goodness of God as their ultimate foundation of life. With that in their mind, they begin to see what a holy God sees which is the intrinsic value of all creatures in his universe. They begin to love the soul of their neighbor and want only the best ends for them, to be in heaven with Jesus and have the Holy Spirit live in them during this life. What ends could be better than that. One who is selfish is missing out on the very end that would change all their thinking and outlook, the life of God living in their mortal body from now to eternity.
We will deal with two themes:
- In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial
- The government of God Accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to moral law.
Now for our explanation:
In what sense obedience to moral law can be partial, lets look at some things:
- In what sense obedience to Moral law cannot be partial.
- Not in the sense that one can be both selfish and benevolent at the same time. This would mean that a person cannot worship both Jesus and Mary, or both Jesus and Allah, or both Jesus and Buddha, or any other combination that one can elicit from the minds of men. It means that a person cannot be part selfish while calling themselves a Christian and also part committed to God in the sense of ultimate grounds of the highest well-being of God and the universe which is only when the Holy Spirit has come in. With God it is all or nothing! There can be nothing partial in the law of disinterested benevolence or that would show an “interest” which means that something of self is involved.
- It also means that a person cannot withhold any degree of intensity but that they must choose God and the universe with all the intensity possible. This still goes to the fact that without Christ we can do nothing and without the Holy Spirit no one can have the degree of intensity that is required. One may be all that they can possibly be in the sense of loving God and ones neighbor while not relying upon the Holy Spirit for that which we lack in prayer and intensity and as long as they are only relying upon their own inner self without the Holy Spirit, they are lacking in the degree of intensity that God requires. Again it is all or nothing with God and the all that He requires cannot be had without receiving the Holy Spirit in to the soul.
- Honesty of intention is again related to our degree of intention which is only by being all or nothing with God. Any lack of honesty will fail of the power of the Holy Spirit and His work in our life.
- We have seen that neither of the following can be true:
We can’t have complex motives or character since this would include a degree of self or it would be simple.
It cannot be that will is right and emotions are wrong since they all work with self which is still partial.
We have seen that a holy preference with the Holy Spirit cannot co-exist with opposing selfish preferences. You cannot serve God and mammon.
- In what sense can obedience be partial, given what we have already said above? By this we say that we mean intermittent. When a person comes to God and changes the ultimate preference of his ultimate intention for life and has the Holy Spirit living in him, he is still capable of having times when he forgets that preference and in such a way he may switch to a selfish motive for a brief period until the Holy Spirit reminds him of his error and then he switches it back after another “repentance” through the confessing of sin in his life. This is why we say that repentance is a life-time thing. We don’t believe that entire obedience and entire selfishness can co-exists, but that a person is either totally obedient for a time, and then alternates with a state of total selfishness. We may also say that if a person could make this switch and never return to obedience to moral law, they may have never been saved or they will be severely disciplines by God. “If ye be without chastisement, ye are bastards and not sons.” The mark of a true Christian, we may also say, is that the overall preference of the mind, given some times of selfishness, will be generally totally benevolent so that the life is never in complete bondage to self again.
1 John 3:7-10 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. (8) He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (9) Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (10) In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
The meaning of sin in the first passage is in the sense of a life-time commitment to self with no turning to God. It is repetitive sin as one would have when the ruling preference of the heart is self only and at no time is it the good of God and of the universe.
On the other hand, the second passage refers to what we are stating in this portion, having a life of preference for God and the Universe, being indwelt by the Holy Spirit and finding intermittent times of selfishness that result in our need to make confession to God. God says he is our advocate in such cases. He also says he forgives us.
1 John 1:6-9 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (8) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The government of God accepts nothing as virtue but obedience to the law of God.
We state this because even though it is self evident 90% of churches deny that obedience to the law of God is virtue. Most churches say that while there is virtue in the world, no one ever obeys the moral law of God and that God will accept as virtue that which falls short of obedience to the Moral law of God. While they are saying this they have articles of faith that state that virtue is evidence of a change of heart and that it also implies obedience. Now, when someone claims that they have obeyed the moral, the church will brand that person as a heretic for claiming something that they say that no one can do. They will make a strong case for the fact that someone can act holy who is not obeying the moral law of God. When you look at it the way churches do, one would think that there is a moral standard in the Bible and then that there is another moral standard, a secret one, that is more realistic since God has put too high a standard on his children. We want to discuss this with the following statements:
There can be no other rule of duty except God’s moral law. (See Chapter 2, discussion of Exclusiveness) Please note the following:
- Moral law is a law of nature, not founded in the will of God, as we have already said, but rather in the nature and relations of moral beings. It only prescribes that which is suitable to our nature and relations. It does not ask that which is impossible. Especially is it true that with the indwelling Holy Spirit a person may have a more stronger intention to will the intrinsic value of God and the universe so that nothing about the Law of God impossible to any moral agent. We have already stated that nothing is right that does not conform to the nature and relations of moral agents. Just the very statement that it can’t be done denies the very definition of moral law which is something that God knows can be done.
- God has never made any other rule of duty and even if he did, it could not be our duty because our duty does not rest in the arbitrary will of God. Since God did not create it, he can’t alter it or introduce anything new based upon his own will. Can God make something new that will override the moral law? Some say that the law of “faith” has superseded the moral law, but as the Scripture says, it is not made void but it is established by the moral law. Romans 3:31 “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” The reason for our statement here is that true faith always implies love which would also mean obedience to the moral law (the law of love); also, love or obedience to moral law always implies faith. So, to think that the moral law is made void by faith which is equal to moral law is absurd. Nothing is law that is not suited to the nature and relations of moral agents and no being can create or set aside the obligation of moral law. There is not other standard to compare actions of both God and the universe except moral law. Now we need to consider something else:
- Nothing can be virtue or true religion but obedience to moral law.
- No matter how you modify it, virtue is obedience to moral law.
- There is no virtue except just what moral law requires. Every modification of virtue is still only obedience to moral law. Consider these:
- Modifications to virtue are still only obedience to moral law.
- Virtue is identical with true religion.
- True Christianity can’t exist without a genuine love of God and man as is the root of moral law.
- The Bible says that love is the fulfilling of the law and nothing else is suitable. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” The Bible constantly recognizes love as being the sum total of Christianity and it includes every form of love. Now we can understand what repentance is. It is turning from the law of selfishness to the law of love, from disobedience to obedience to moral law. Faith is loving, confiding in, embracing, and loving truth and the God of truth. It is only a modification of loving God and Jesus Christ. Later we will see that every Christian virtue is only a modification of love. God is love. Every modification of virtue or holiness in God is really only love which is required of God and also required of us. Benevolence is virtue in God and in all holy beings. Every moral attribute such as justice or truthfulness is still only a variation of love viewed in various relations. For some reason the common feeling is that the obedience to moral law that God requires is not really entire obedience for the Christian. It seems to be the case that many feel that obedience for the Christian, because of what Jesus did in dying for us, is something far less than what God requires so that a Christian can be partly loving and partly selfish and God will just let it go and not require that they love with disinterested benevolence. They can live in partial obedience and in sin and for some reason it is fine with God. As we have already previously inquired:
Can a moral agent partly obey and partly disobey at the same time? Can a person be saved and lost at the same time?
Can God justify anyone that does not yield a full present obedience to moral law? Since we have already dealt with question one, we will only talk about the second question here. Can God really accept as virtue or obedience something less than repentance? Can he require something less than a change from supreme selfishness to supreme disinterested benevolence?
Justification is used in two senses:
- Pronouncing the person blameless.
- When it comes to pardon, it means acceptance, or treating a person who has sinned as if he had not sinned.
In the last sense, many believe that a Christian is justified, pardoned, and accepted by God as just while they are sinning every moment and coming short of what the moral law demands. Does a person in a bar taking a drink and flirting with the women get saved if he says a prayer with no repentance? If they were to think that they were justified by the law they would think that the moral law condemns them for the sin that they are presently living in. They say that they are justified by grace, not that grace has made them truly and personally righteous, but that grace pardons, justifies and accepts them while they are living in a state of sin, in fact, they are continually sinning while at the same time pardoned and acquitted. They actually think that God accepts a sinner’s partial obedience and at the same time forgives what he voluntarily withholds. Let’s get down to the truth here. Some think that a sinner can be saved by saying a lame duck prayer and at the same time they have no repentance. They think that God justifies someone that is not repentant and all that they are required to do is to say a prayer of acceptance of the mental facts regarding the truth of Jesus Christ as the Savior from sin while at the same time they never turned from sin to holiness. Let’s ask some questions based upon this:
(1) If only partial obedience is acceptable then how much can be withheld and we are accepted by God?
(2) If God can forgive us while we voluntarily withhold that which constitutes full obedience? Are we forgiven of sins of which we do not repent? Are we forgiven while in the very act of committing sin against a holy God?
(3) What good can there be to a sinner, to God, or to the universe if they are forgiven while not penitent, or while still persisting in their sinful ultimate intention of life?
(4) Does God even have a right to forgive sin that is not repented of?
(5) Do we have a right to ask God to forgive us of sin while we are not repentant?
(6) Is it not hypocrisy to talk of present sin and of sin not repented of?
(7) Does the Bible say that a person can be justified while in sin?
(8) Can a person have partial repentance? Is not true repentance to return to full obedience to the moral law?
(9) Is it not a serious error to make the claim that God can pardon a sinner while in willful commission of sin?
(10) Is it not a gross error that shows God as one who can pardon and justify a sinner who never repents but is living in present sin voluntarily?
(11) Is there any such thing as sin that is not voluntary?
(12) If a person is in “present” sin, does it not show that they have never repented?
Let’s answer these questions with sound wisdom:
- If only partial obedience is acceptable then how much can be withheld and we are accepted by God? If it is possible to hold something back from God, then how much can we hold back and still be considered to have repented or to have faith that saved? Can we love God with less than all our hearts and our neighbor less than ourselves? Can we love God while still praying to Mary, Allah, or Buddha? Can we love our neighbor while we are stealing from them and making a move to ruin their business so that ours can be successful? Where does one draw the line. Can we love God and still hate people just a little bit? Can we think that only 10% love to God and 10% love to our neighbor is acceptable? What about 20%? What about any percentage up to 90%? Which one crosses the line? When do you say, that is not enough? I can tell you the answer! The only degree of obedience that God accepts is that which means a total all or nothing commitment to God in such a way that the Holy Spirit comes into the life of the believer so that the combined will of God and of us working together fulfills the moral law. To withhold any percent even to a fraction will close the door to the Holy Spirit and the change will not be completed in the heart of a believer. There is no way that the Holy Spirit will come in to a heart that loves God a little, the neighbor a little, and self a large amount. Only when self is crucified can the Holy Spirit take full control.
- If God can forgive us while we voluntarily withhold that which constitutes full obedience? Are we forgiven of sins of which we do not repent? Are we forgiven while in the very act of committing sin against a holy God? Can God forgive if you don’t call upon the Lord? Can he forgive if you don’t receive Christ? Can God forgive if you don’t open your heart’s door? Can God forgive if you don’t repent? Can repentance be partial? Can we ask God for forgiveness while in the very act of committing the sin that God despises? There is a theory that a Christian never yields full obedience to the divine law and that while he is in this act of disobedience he is committing the sins against God and his neighbor that God hates but the Christian is still forgiven. Christians with this false theology think that they always withhold part of their heart from God while saying that they believe with their heart, that they never fully repent of all their sins, only a token repentance that for some reason allows them to think that God will forgive and justify them while they remain in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. They actually think that God pardons a present and pernicious rebellion and that God receives to favor a God defrauding wretch! They see God as justifying a sinner that has sin unrepented of and that they detestably persevere in? This means that a Christian is justified without a present full obedience and is a rebel with one hand full of weapons against the throne of God. Now before you criticize this and call it works for salvation, let’s consider this thought! What if the sin that we are talking about is the sin of unbelief? Can God forgive and justify a person that will not believe? Suppose they say that they believe but they only believe with strings attached? Suppose that the faith is conditional faith saying that God must do something for them in exchange for their faith? All the things that I have mentioned are sins that cannot be held while obeying the law of love, moral law, which is the same as saying that they don’t have a faith that saves. What about this! Can a person be saved who does not open their heart’s door to Jesus? Suppose that they pray but their heart’s door is closed and locked, can they be saved? I believe that we have sugar coated faith long enough and that this teaching makes the lack of faith, lack of commitment, lack of obedience to moral law, or lack of trust just what it is, sin. We are so careful to make sure that a person is not doing works for salvation that we have completely done away with the true definition of faith, repentance, belief, and of receiving Christ with the heart. What we have taught here in the obedience to Moral Law is included in all of these doctrinal words. Obedience is merely trusting Christ with all your heart, to use terms that we are familiar with in today’s world.
- What good can there be to a sinner, to God, or to the universe if they are forgiven while not penitent, or while still persisting in their sinful ultimate intention of life? Think about it! Can a person be saved just by saying a prayer that has no trust, faith, belief, or commitment of heart involved? This is just like saying can a person be pardoned or justified while he continues to withhold part of his heart from God and still clings to part of his sins? Does God really justify persons with this mind set? Perhaps that is why we have so few real changed lives in our generation.
- Does God even have a right to forgive sin that is not repented of? Since there is a theology today that says that the only sin a person must repent of is the sin of unbelief. Well, let’s use that, then. Will God justify and forgive when a person does not really believe with the heart. Well, what is the definition of belief with the heart? I will tell you. To believe in or to be baptized in the name of Jesus is to renounce yourself and consider yourself a life-time servant of Jesus. That is what the Greek definition of “believe in” means. So we see that we have still defined what we are saying here, that God cannot forgive arbitrarily since the foundation of moral law is not based in the will of God. God cannot just arbitrarily forgive unless the subject makes a turning from the foundation of supreme selfishness to that of the intrinsic value of God and the Universe. Or, in other words, God does not forgive unless a person sees Jesus on the Cross and the wonderful value of his forgiveness of sins so that because of what he sees as the love of God, he is willing to trust (make a full commitment of heart and life) Jesus with his never dying soul. Repentance is merely renouncing self and surrendering to God as a life-time servant. By the way, when you say to “trust Jesus” it is the same thing. You can’t be halfway with God. Who ever heard of a situation where the ruler forgave a rebel that still held on to part of his rebellion? What woman ever trusted being married to a man that was still seeing other women on the side? Do you think that God is any different than a marital partner? Do you think that God will look the other way when we have other loves and other gods, even the god of self? No, you are wrong! God requires all or nothing. You can’t have part belief, part faith, part opening the door of the heart, part commitment, part repentance, or part obedience to moral law. That means you can’t partly love God and partly love Mary or self or any other idol because God’s idea of trust, belief, faith, or repentance is all or nothing. Even if God willed it, he could not forgive a partial faith since the foundation of moral law is not based in the will of God in the first place as we have previously shown.
- Do we have a right to ask God to forgive us of sin while we are not repentant? This is why the Bible says to break up your fallow ground. This is why James says to be afflicted and mourn and to humble yourself in the eyes of the Lord and He will lift you up. You have no right to come to God without a heart full of repentance. If God cannot arbitrarily forgive us while we are in open sin, then we have no right to expect it of Him. We cannot persist in defrauding God of a lack of faith or trust, remain unrepentant and then claim that we have “received Jesus into our heart.” Will God forgive us while we have no heart of repentance? Only by turning from sin can we ever hope that God will forgive our truly repentant heart.
- Is it not hypocrisy to talk of present sin and of sin not repented of? Go ahead; show me the verse in the Bible that says a person can be saved that does not believe with the heart! What about the verse that says a person can be saved without a full trust in Jesus Christ? What about the verse that says a person can trust Jesus and Mary too? How about the verse that says a person can be saved without repentance? How about the verse that says that believing is not repentance? How about the verse that says you can be saved without receiving Jesus into the heart? Well, believe it or not, all of these things are various definitions of obedience to the moral law, the law of love, trust, believing, receiving, and repenting. They are all the same. You can’t find a verse that shows a person can be half-way with God, it just does not exist!
- Does the Bible say that a person can be justified while in sin? Is a person justified that does not believe, repent, trust, receive, or obey? Does not the Bible condemn the heart of a vile sinner as an abomination to God? Then how can some say that God justifies a person that is in sin and his soul should be condemned? Did God abrogate the law of the universe, the moral law? Can a person be justified who has the foundation of moral obligation as his own selfish interests? If it were possible that a person could be justified while in sin, then the moral law would still condemn that person because partial obedience is not considered obedience at all. Who can be forgiven while in an open act of rebellion against God? Now don’t forget that we have defined obedience to moral law as perfect intention, not perfect works. We are saying that a person cannot be justified without intending to obey the moral law. Or, they cannot be justified while purposely planning to disobey and never intending to obey at all or intending only partly to obey. The intention is what the determining factor is. But if intention is a condition of justification, then can’t we say that obedience to moral law is a condition since they are one and the same? Yes, but some will deny this, even so. However, we are not merely talking about intending to intend, intending to obey! We are talking about intending the highest good of God and the universe. Can a person be justified while sin remains in him? Remember sin is defined as missing the mark of the end and scope of life which is God. Surely he cannot be justified in sin unless the moral law is repealed which cannot be done since it is not founded upon the will of God or of any other being. This means that one cannot be justified by God with even a particle of sin in them! Oh! Do you mean sinless perfection? Let me ask you! Can a person be justified while they don’t believe, trust, call upon, receive, or repent? It is all the same thing. They can’t be justified with any sin whatsoever in their overall intention before a holy God. “If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart.” Forgiveness is not in the arbitrary will of God. God cannot repeal the moral law. He can only dispense with the execution of the penalty because of the death of Jesus Christ for our sins. Without that, God cannot change moral law or moral government.
Can a person have partial repentance? Is not true repentance to return to full obedience to the moral law? Now we will define repentance. We will discuss 1) What repentance is not, 2) What it is, 3) What is not implied in it, 4) What is implied.
What repentance is not!
- It is not related to the intelligence. It does not consist of conviction of sin or some form of intellectual view of sin.
- It is not emotions. It does not mean a feeling of regret, remorse, or sorrow of any kind or degree, it is not feelings of any kind.
What repentance is!
When a person speaks of repentance they are talking about to reflect, to think again, and to be more specific, to change the mind in conformity with a second thought, to perceive afterwards, to change the mind according to a more rational and intelligent view of the subject. It means to change the ultimate choice, purpose or intention. This means that repentance involves changing the ground of obligation or intention to a new intention. It means to choose a new end, to being a new life, to turn from self-seeking to choosing the highest good of being, to turn from selfishness to disinterested benevolence and from a state of disobedience to a state of obedience.
What is not implied in it!
- It does not imply remembering all past sins. That would mean that a person would be required to remember every particular sin in their whole life. However, repentance means turning to God and from self-seeking to seeking the highest well-being of God and the universe rather than remembering all past sins.
- It does not mean to continually sorrow over your past sins because past sins should not be continually on our mind.
What is implied in it!
- It means understanding that the nature of sin is the spirit of self-seeking, or selfishness. This is only a condition of repentance, not actually what repentance is. Repentance is a voluntary turning in conjunction with an illuminating in the heart of the nature of sin and the understanding of it.
- It means a turning from this state of self-seeking, or selfishness, to a state of consecration to God and the good of the universe.
- It means a sorrow for past sins when we remember them. It means this and the following:
It means universal, outward reformation.
It means the emotion of hatred of sin.
It means the emotion of self-loathing on account of sin. If repentance means anything at all it could not mean less than a complete reformation of heart and life. A reformation of heart and life is turning from complete selfishness to disinterested benevolence. These two cannot co-exist. They consist in the supreme choice of an ultimate intention of the mind. If it means anything, repentance means a thorough reformation of heart and life. Reformation of heart means turning from selfishness to benevolence. Since we have seen that selfishness and benevolence cannot co-exist, we have concluded that they are opposite ends and cannot be chosen at the same time. It is nonsense to speak of partial repentance. That would overlook the very nature of repentance, that of changing the ground or ultimate intention from selfishness to benevolence. No one can serve both God and mammon.
Is it not a serious error to make the claim that God can pardon a sinner while in willful commission of sin? Yes —
- Because it is antinomianism which is a flexible concept of moral law. It dishonors God by making him an arbitrary sovereign.
- Because it represents God as doing something that he has no right to do and cannot do without sinning by breaking his own moral standard.
- The effect of God breaking his own moral law makes Christ the minister of sin because it states that He justifies people in their sins rather than saving them from their sins. Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”
- Because it contradicts the scripture that says that God establishes the law instead of making it void.
- Because it is a horrible source of delusion that would lead multitudes of people to consider themselves justified by God while they are living in known sin. That means that a person could think that they were justified while living in a supreme ultimate intent of selfishness, or known sin. Some actually think that God accepts and pardons partial obedience and when that person sins it is not voluntary sin. Thus we reply:
Is there any such thing as sin that is not voluntary?
What is sin? It is transgression of the law. Sin is not a negation, not willing, but consists in self-gratification. It is willing something that is against the commandment of God. Sin, and holiness too, both consist in willing, choosing, intending. Since that is the case, sin is always voluntary. It is intelligent. The fact is that either there is no sin, or sin is voluntary. When one speaks of benevolence, they mean willing the good of being as an end and at the same time rejecting self-gratification as an opposite end. The two are eternal opposites. They are antagonists. They can’t exist together in the heart. They are active states of the will and both are states of the will that involve choice.
Is it true that present sin is sin that has not been repented of?
If your ultimate intent at the present time is total self gratification, then you are not saved. You are living in sin and have not repented or you would have turned to disinterested benevolence as your ultimate intent for life. The two cannot co-exist. That means that you are voluntarily sinning against God. You cannot be partly penitent and partly impenitent. There are too many who have this loose idea and they are trifling with a holy God. It is a mistake. We have seen that repentance is a change of the ultimate intention of the heart. It is turning from selfishness to benevolence. That means a change of the ultimate intention, the change of the choice of an end. Because of that you can’t be partly one and partly the other. It just will not work. Only the present virtue, obedience to moral law, faith, trust, receive, repent, commit, have a supreme ultimate intention of God and the Universe can be considered as true obedience in the Bible sense. It is being saved.
Remarks or conclusions from these facts!
- Judging by what we have been saying, we can see why the modern church is falling into a great ruinous mistake. They suppose that living in a sinless state is rare or impossible. If what we are saying it the truth then renouncing of all sin is the only true measure of a Christian. Sin ceases where holiness begins. How can anyone hope for heaven and still live in conscious sin. How can they look at living without sin as the ultimate intent as impossible in this world. How can they think that it is a dangerous error that one can expect to live without sinning, and yet they have a hope for heaven! How can anyone brand someone a heretic that states that God will not justify anyone that does not live with the ultimate intention of the good of God and the universe?
- How many people are ruined by being told that there is a justification that is the result of a faith that does nothing to purify the heart, and allows the person to live in a constant attitude of persistent sinning? This error has sent many to their death in hell.
- We see that, if a man who looks like he is righteous and does not manifest the perseverance that is the aforementioned mark of a true saint, so that he forsakes what righteousness he seemed to have and he goes back to what the true state of the heart was all along, the ultimate end of selfishness and sin, then that man will sink into hell.
- We see that whenever a person who claims to be a Christian sins, he must see that he is condemned by God and must repent and do his first works or be lost. He cannot assume that he is saved if the perseverance that is a mark of the Christian is missing in his life. He never was really saved; he only looked that way to the world. This was not a true Christian or they would never be lost. Don’t trifle with God, it is all or nothing. When a person is truly saved, they are always saved so that they persevere unto the very end. We need to say that a truly saved person can never be lost. As the scripture says, Proverbs 24:16 “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” It is either that a person was never saved and his true ground of selfishness is revealed when he sins which means that he is a fake Christian, or the person was really saved and the ground of his life is truly as we have presented here and that his temptations and momentary seeming sins are not part of the ultimate intention of his life so that he is shortly returned to his ultimate intention following his repentance before God. The Holy Spirit would never allow a true believer to slip away from God permanently. If it ever gets close to that, God will take the true believer home.
The problem with the present day church is that repentance is totally left out or not defined properly. We seem to see ourselves as living constantly in a state of sin with no hope of ever being holy. That is so contrary to the teaching of the Bible. It is not that we never are tempted and that we never make an occasional wrong choice, but that when we are saved our ultimate choice has changed permanently and God has thus justified us not by works which we have done but by His mercy. He washes us by regeneration and renews us by the Holy Ghost. To take the position that God can somehow will our righteousness with no hint of holiness on our part is to charge God with sin and to make him no different than Allah who can arbitrarily will the death of Christians and Jews. God has provided a way for us to be holy in offering Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for our sin and then in sending the Holy Spirit to live in us and to keep us holy. Without God, we could never live holy since the ultimate intention could never be with the proper degree of commitment were it not for the hand of God in our lives. Without Him we can truly do nothing. When people talk of having salvation and then of living in a way that the Holy Spirit could never condone, they are opening up their true heart to expose that there may be no Holy Spirit at all. It is really quite simple. Who could fail to see the intrinsic value of having Jesus Christ living and abiding in us, the hope of glory? Who could fail to see that even though God demands that we live holy and without sin, we are able to do this by having the Holy Spirit indwell our mortal body and to keep us from falling as the Scripture says. The problem is that so many assume that they have the real thing and are lured into a false state of security when they have never truly repented and they have no evidence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. You can have a mental knowledge of the things of God but unless your ultimate intention has been permanently altered by the power of God you need to fear that you will never reach heaven but that the fires of hell will be your home. You can’t trifle with God, it is all or nothing. Question, how could we not give all when his love is so valuable that it would be worth it to sacrifice all of life’s pleasures just to have the life of God living in our mortal flesh? Perhaps we need to see Him who is altogether lovely.