Are Abusers Christians? Faith and Repentance are Inseparable — taken from Brian Schwertley

The following words about the inseparability of faith and repentance are taken from Brian Schwertley’s excellent article entitled , The Necessity of Sanctification: A Brief Refutation of the Carnal Christian Heresy, which can be read in its entirety at:

The Necessity of Sanctification: A Brief Refutation of the Carnal Christian Heresy [Internet Archive link to the PDF. Editors].

….The idea that holiness is optional for believers is disproved by the Bible’s teaching on repentance. Repentance is never presented in Scripture as optional or for Israel only but is a vital element of the gospel message. “(A)nd that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Christ emphasized repentance in His preaching (Mt. 4:17; Mk. 1:14, 15). He warned His disciples, saying, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:5). John the Baptizer (Jesus’ forerunner) emphasized the need for repentance (Mk. 1:4; Lu. 3:7-9). He told the Pharisees and Sadducees, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt. 3:7-10). Those who reject the necessity of holiness often will argue that repentance is a Jewish doctrine that does not apply to the church (which they erroneously assert is a parenthesis in God’s plan). Such teaching is refuted by the apostle Paul himself. Paul said, I “taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ac. 20:21). To the Greek Athenians Paul said, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Ac. 17:30).

Repentance means that a person has a change of mind concerning God, Christ, self and sin. A person who repents understands that Jehovah is the one and only true God. He is a God of righteousness and holiness that will not tolerate evil. A person who repents is no longer hostile or indifferent regarding Christ but now believes in Him according to the Scriptures. He regards Jesus as the pearl of great price (Mt. 13:46); as someone who must be cherished, served and worshiped no matter what the cost. A person who repents sees sin as exceedingly sinful. Sin is no longer viewed as a light thing but as wicked and defiling; an act of rebellion against God’s throne. Repentance is an inward change of mind that leads to a change of life. A person who sincerely repents leads a godly life; that is, he brings forth fruits worthy of repentance. Repentance does not save anyone. That is, it is non-meritorious and does not eliminate the guilt of sin (only Christ’s atoning death can do that). However, true faith and real repentance are the fruits of regeneration. A genuine Christian cannot exist without them. “(W)herever there is true faith, there is also real repentance. The two are but two aspects of the same turning — a turning away from sin in the direction of God.” Just as no one is saved without the instrument of faith which lays hold of Christ, no one is saved without a change of mind concerning Christ and sin. Furthermore, just as one must look at a person’s life in order to see if he has genuine faith (1 Jn. 1:6; 2:3, 4; 3:10; Jas. 2:14-16); one must also look at the fruits of repentance to see if genuine repentance has occurred (Mt. 3:8; 7:16-20). Do you have a “godly sorrow (that) produces repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10)? Are you out of a love for Christ and hatred for your sin continually putting off your bad habits and endeavoring after new obedience?  [Emphasis original.]

The abuser lacks real repentance, and therefore he lacks genuine faith. A person who persists in evil does not know Christ.

[April 2, 2023: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to April 2, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to April 2, 2023 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to April 2, 2023 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (April 2, 2023), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]

7 thoughts on “Are Abusers Christians? Faith and Repentance are Inseparable — taken from Brian Schwertley”

  1. The only thing I would add is that repentance produces a brokenness of heart and being that causes one to take the smallest place at the table and wait for an invitation to “come up higher”. He does not, as the unrepentant apologizer, take the first seat and demand that everyone “forgive and restore” him.

    1. Thank you, Jeff, and Larry. And to add to the theme — I have an unrepentant apologizer who also believes that the abused should be begging for forgiveness as well. (This was fed into by a pastor friend who suggested that I was the one who needed to feel the brokenness, and that I am acting like a petulant child in seeking freedom from abuse.) He has apologized, made all matters of grand gestures to prove his sincerity, and doesn’t hesitate to remind me of it. “I’ve made a commitment to change and have upheld that commitment,” he says after one month, not understanding why I’m not running back.

      1. Very wise, NettyM. Once some years ago I had an abusive man who had long paraded as a fine Christian, insist that I reconcile in relationship with him. He told me how much he had changed and then proceeded to tell me that I was at fault for not recognizing it. When I told him I did not believe him, he stormed away in anger. To this date I have seen no change except for the worse. He continues to dupe numbers of other people. But once we understand that truly repentant people 1) Do not boast about their repentance, and 2) Do not demand forgiveness, we can see right through all of these deceiving tactics.

      2. Yes, NettyM!
        What you’ve said reminds me of some of the items in my Checklist for Repentance (modified from Lundy Bancroft’s). A truly repentant abuser will not attempt to use behavioural improvements as bargaining chips; and will not demand credit for behavioural improvements.

        [This link has been corrected to reflect the new URL. Editors.]

  2. This is very good, especially the part that speaks of true repentance being a “fruit of Salvation”. This post is strength to me. Thank you for it. I love that the writings on this blog are supported with Scriptures.

    I hear you on this, Netty. It is wonderful though, that we can draw lots of help from this blog and the people who serve it, to know what God thinks is right and best for us. We need that strength and God has given it to us, through them. I feel like I am just trying to learn how to stand and I need the strength of others to help me.

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