Ask Your Preacher
We all know even Christians are not perfect and have struggles. We also know that sanctification should be occurring, and a Christian has conduct requirements. My question is: when does sin become a serious problem in a Christian’s life? When does a Christian become a lukewarm Christian? And after receiving Christ in their lives, can Christians backslide or sin enough to lose their salvation? I know I hate sin and strive my hardest to do the will of God, but there are times I just have a thorn in my flesh or do what I don't want to do.
We are warned to not “drift” away from the Lord (Heb 2:1) or “backslide” (Pr 1:32) into old sinful ways. Once we are baptized, we are told to grow in the Lord and mature in our faith (1 Pet 2:2). Baptism is the beginning of a new life, but God calls us to be faithful until death (Rev 2:10). A Christian can know that they are not lukewarm by properly examining their motives and lifestyle (1 Cor 11:28-30). God constantly forgives faithful and honest people for their sins (1 Jn 1:9), but if we neglect our salvation (Heb 2:3) or stop growing, we have no hope left (Heb 10:26-27). The struggles you face are completely common… the important thing is to continue to struggle and fight for the faith.
It has always been my understanding that if we die in sin without asking for forgiveness beforehand, we go to hell. For example, if I've lived in obedience to God all my life, but on the day I die I sinned and didn’t ask God for forgiveness, I'd go to hell. Is that right? Now I look at it, and it seems like I'm counting on my righteousness to gain entry into heaven. If a believer sins (as we sometimes do) and dies without asking for forgiveness beforehand, does he/she go to hell?
The Last Word
Dear The Last Word,
Your confusion is a common one because the Bible never explicitly states what happens to the sins that we didn’t specifically ask for forgiveness for. There is no specific verse that deals with this issue; instead, we must look at some of the concepts that are scattered throughout the Scriptures.
- Jesus is our Advocate (1 Jhn 2:1-3). Jesus is our High Priest, and He mediates between us and God (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus wants to intercede for your sins, and He desires to help you get into heaven.
- God doesn’t desire anyone to be separated from Him (2 Pet 3:9). No one will ever accidentally go to hell, and no one will accidently miss out on heaven because they didn’t have an opportunity to pray for forgiveness right before they died. God is ready and willing to forgive (Ps. 86:5).
- God expects our obedience, and all forgiveness is dependent upon our willingness to draw near to Him with obedient hearts (1 Pet 1:14). The Bible says that our obedience to Him purifies our souls. God forgives the faithful and obedient servant (Heb 10:38).
- John paints a beautiful picture for us in 1 Jhn 1:7 by saying, “If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” The word ‘walk’ means ‘to live continually’, and whenever we have that relationship but we accidentally sin, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us of our sins.
When you consider all of these concepts, the truth on the subject becomes evident; we are forgiven as we ask for forgiveness, and God gives grace in those times when we are unable or ignorant to ask for it. So continue to ask and pray for forgiveness, but you can also have peace that God’s grace will protect your soul as you do your best to live faithfully.
If you practiced witchcraft just for fun, and you’re a teenager, are you automatically going to hell, and if so, can you change it?
As long as we are living, there is time to change our lives. Astrology, mysticism, séances, horoscopes, palm reading, witchcraft, etc. are all sinful. God condemned that behavior in the Old Testament (Isa 47:13-14). King Saul was put to death by God for seeking a woman that practiced divining (1 Chr 10:13). Any Jew that was found visiting a ‘medium’ or ‘spiritist’ would be cut off from His people (Lev 20:6). When someone became a Christian, they confessed sorcery as evil, and many of them burned their books of the magical arts (Acts 19:18-20). If we want wisdom, we should seek it from God (Jas 1:5).
You mentioned that you did it just for fun and that you didn’t realize the implications. Many sins are that way, but that doesn’t excuse the sin. If you are driving down the highway and fail to note the speed limit… ignorance won’t stop the police officer from giving you a ticket. When mankind makes choices in ignorance, those choices still affect us (1 Pet 1:14). The way to receive forgiveness is to turn to the Lord, and He will give you forgiveness. Read “Five Steps To Salvation” for exactly what it takes to be forgiven.
What do you do if you have a bad addiction to something sinful?
When a sin becomes so entrenched in your life that you are enslaved to it (Jhn 8:34), you are dealing with an addiction. Addictions are formed by habits, and habits are formed by repeatedly making the same choices. James describes this process in Jas 1:13-15. All sins begin with a mental decision. If you want to remove an addiction, isolate the choices that are putting you in the position to commit that sin. If you change the environment and circumstances that lead you to a sin, you change the future playing field. One of the easiest ways to do this is to let someone else know about your struggle (Jas 5:16). There is strength in numbers (Eccl 4:12), and exposing a sin takes its power away (Jhn 3:20). When we are willing to seek help, we are ready to win.
Are gay people going to heaven?
Looking To Judgment
Dear Looking To Judgment,
Living an actively homosexual lifestyle will send you to hell (1 Cor 6:9-10). However, you aren’t born forced to live a homosexual lifestyle. God doesn’t force anyone to act upon same-sex attractions, just like God doesn’t force an alcoholic to the bottle or a wrathful husband to strike his wife. How we act is a choice, not a genetic equation. There is a lot of debate over why some people have same-sex attractions, but at the end of the day, those temptations need to be mastered. When Cain was angry, God told Cain to rule over sin, or it would devour him (Gen 4:7). Same-sex attractions are temptations that stem from within a person – just like anger, unhealthy opposite-sex attractions, and a thousand other temptations (Jas 1:13-14). The key is that there is always a way of escape from those unhealthy desires (1 Cor 10:13). God didn’t make a mistake when creating us; it is when we turn from the path He has designed for us and follow our own desires (which are often unhealthy) that we sin (Jer 10:23).