Can a Devout Christian Live in Sin?
I’ve been tossing around the idea that if a person who is truly devout and who is truly seeking Christ with all of their heart, can they actively and habituatally participate in repetitive sin. In all actuality, the answer isn’t as simple as a flat out no. Now before you gasp in astonishment, allow me to explain.
First, lets address what the scripture says about holiness and righteousness among God seekers. Romans 8:1 states, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake He made Christ to be sin Who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become the righteousness of God.” These scriptures mean that if you are born again, repent of your sins, and seek God with all of your heart, he will forgive you and you are made righteous through his love and grace. So we all know that.
Next, lets tease out the outliers for which this may not apply: the addicts. In the words of the late Rick James, “Cocaine is one hell of a drug.” People who are addicted to things like drugs and alcohol usually try to get clean but unfortunately are not physically and/or mentally able. Their heart is pursuit of God, its just that their actions unfortunately do not follow. Most would agree that these individuals are living as devout as they possibly can and, because they are seeking Him with all of their heart and might, their righteousness is acceptable in the eyes of God.
But can a non-addict have the same heart towards God yet continue to live in sin regularly. Consider the following explain: Terry is a Christian guy who’s been attending church and devoutly seeking God all of his life. Terry learns that his close friend Beth lost her job and has no place to live since she had been excommunicated by her family. So Terry decides to allow Beth to move in with her until she finds a job and move into her own place. As time passes, the couple become sexually intimate and Terry made the mistake of having sex with her.
After crying out to God for forgiveness, Terry does it again…then again and again. After each sexual encounter, He finds hisself on his knees praying to God for forgiveness and for God to take away his desire to lust and fornicate. He knows no one in the area and has no other place for him or Beth to live because of finances.
As you can see, this situation can easily be real. Terry’s continued desire to seek God is there, however forsaking lustful temptation is a deep problem for him, and he continues to live in sin. Is he devout? Is he living holy? Is he in danger of hell fire? What about a homosexual who devoutly seeks God and tries not to be gay?
I think the answer is that he, along with any person pursuing the call, is living holy. Ephesians 2:8-9 say; “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” Psalms 37:23-24 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.”
God doesn’t care about effort or outcomes like people do. Its not about what you do, but about where your heart is. God is kind of like a gym trainer that brings you in everyday to do 10 push-ups. If you come in and only do 1 pushup everyday for the rest of your life and you are trying to do 10 everytime, God looks at you each day and says job well done. And Isaiah 43:25 does says\ that, “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.” He not only sees your heart put purposefully does not remember your misdeeds. Having a contrite heart towards the things of God is all that he cares about, and belief in him and pursuing him alone is all that he requires to see the kingdom, despite popular belief. Obedience doesn’t make us righteous or save us; his love and grace alone are the ONLY things that do.