The Damnation of a Sinning Christian Is Greater Than That Of A Sinning Pagan or Heathen
By Jesse Morrell
I once heard a man say, “I couldn’t lose my salvation even if I tried!” There is a false cliché in the church today – “Salvation doesn’t depend upon me or upon what I do at all.” It is a false gospel without repentance. The Bible says that you must repent of your sins to be forgiven by the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ, that a true believer lives a holy life free from sin and that you must guard against falling back into sin or departing from the faith lest you be cut off from salvation. Forgiveness through Christ certainly does depend upon our repentance unto holiness and without that there is no salvation despite His atonement that was made on our behalf.
Yet many in the church today have the mentality, “It doesn’t matter how much I sin. I sin every sin day in word, thought, and deed, but I am still saved. I am not under law but under grace, so my disobedience towards God does not affect my eternity. My salvation is based upon what Christ did and does not depend at all upon what I do.” And so they turn grace into a license to sin, as if Jesus did not die to make us holy but to keep us sinful, and they think that the gospel means that they can keep sinning and be saved unconditionally when in reality, sinning with the knowledge of the gospel only makes their damnation worse.
The Bible teaches that the damnation of a Christian who returns to his sinning, or who is sinning, will be far worse than the damnation of a sinning pagan or heathen who does not know Christ or the gospel.
If those who do not know God and never have known God are damned for sinning against Him, how much more damned are those who have known Him and yet are now in rebellion against Him!
1. Those who know the truth and yet are sinning against it are under the wrath of God: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness” Romans 1:18
A Christian who knows the truth and yet chooses to continue in sins is therefore under the wrath of God.
2. Those who hear the truth and do not repent will have stricter judgment than for Sodom and Gomorrah: “Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.” Matt. 10:15
3. A Christian who knows the gospel and yet returns to his sins therefore has greater damnation than he was originally saved from. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” 2 Peter 2:20-21
4. A Christian who is willfully sinning* will have worse punishment than those who only sinned under the light of the law and not under the light of the gospel: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Heb. 10:26-31
A man is damned for sinning against the light of the law. But a man has greater damnation for sinning against the light of the gospel! There are those Christians who dream and imagine “It doesn’t matter how much I sin. I am saved by the gospel and can never be damned.” This is absolutely false. Sinning under the light of the gospel brings greater damnation than sinning under the light of the law.
How terrible it is, therefore, that Pastors and preacher say things like, “You can’t stop sinning. You will sin until the day you die. Your present and future sins are already forgive you. Your sins are covered by the imputed righteousness of Christ so you don’t have to obey God yourself.” Preachers like that can lead believers into greater damnation than they were initially saved from! They lead souls to hell by teaching salvation in sin rather than salvation from sin. Instead of teaching the conditions of salvation like repentance and living faith, they teach that salvation is unconditional so even if you sin and then live in impenitence and have dead faith you are still covered by the blood.
Though they don’t explicitly state it, what they are saying is that it is OK to sin under the gospel. If a believer sins, they say, they do not lose their salvation and are not on their way to hell unless they repent. They are already forgiven before they repent and even if they die without repenting. The gospel is not a means of being forgiven if you repent or a means of being changed and saved from sinning, rather they teach it as a means of going to heaven even while you remain a sinner and remain in your sins. And by teaching that it is OK to sin under the gospel and that repentance is not necessary, they are in fact damning souls with their false gospel message.
Believers who have the gospel and believe the gospel are under a greater responsibility than those who do not because they are under a greater measure of light. So the guilt and damnation of a believer who turns from a life of holiness to a life of sin and thus backslide from the Lord and lose faith in Christ will be far greater than those who had never believed the gospel at all.
So let believers who are tempted to sin fear. The wrath of God is coming upon sinners so let us not partake with them in their sins lest we partake in God’s wrath: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them.” (Eph. 5:6-7).
If a believer sins, God is gracious and merciful and will forgive and pardon if he repents of his sin and converts back to the truth:
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:19
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” 1 John 2:1
Remember Jesus warned “except ye repent, ye shall like likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:1-6
And Paul warned believers: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
If you sin as a believer, repent and ask God for merciful and gracious pardon through Jesus Christ.
* When I talk about “A Christian who is willfully sinning” I am talking about a man who repented of his sins and genuinely trusted in Christ unto a holy life and yet afterwards backslide into sin. Strictly speaking, a Christian is someone who is Christ-like and so if a Christian backslides into sin they are technically not a “Christian” anymore though they used to be. What I am referring to is a man who genuinely was a Christian and yet returns to his sins – his damnation is worse than before.
Examples of believers who lost their salvation through their sin would be Judas (Acts 1:25), Simeon (Acts 8:13-22), the unforgiving servant (Matt. 18:23-35), the unfaithful servant (Luke 12:45-46), the man that abides not in Christ (John 15:6), Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:19-20), the backslider (Luke 8:12), etc. Peter is an example of someone who backslide into sin and lost his salvation but had it restored by being re-converted (Matt. 10:33; Matt. 26:70-72; Luke 22:32). The Bible does talk about one being restored who had fallen away (James 5:20).
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