Is a Person Living in Sin Born Again?

Question:

My brother says he’s saved, but he still drinks and takes drugs. If a person is born again, they should want a change in behavior, right?

Answer:

I’m very sorry to hear about this. You describe a situation that we see far too often. Each of us does have a sinful nature, and we all have to be set totally free from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Actually, Jesus has already set us free, but we have not yet made full use of His free gift to set us totally free. That being said, there is a path that we can take to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ of which Ephesians 4 speaks. And, if we do not proceed in that direction, we are very likely to proceed in the opposite direction, letting these things slip, crucifying Christ in our bodies once again, and finally coming disconnected from the Head, Jesus Christ. I have watched Christians, Spirit-filled Christians, actually do this and become Atheists who attack all Christians in a very vile way. This is incredibly sad, because we know the terror of the Lord.

At the same time, there are some churches that are teaching that you can accept Christ as Savior from punishment without accepting His free gift of righteousness and the holiness that He puts into our hearts as a result of that righteousness. That is, He leads us, we pay attention, His faith comes and gives us access to His grace (free gift), and His grace flows in with all that God is. This is the Christ in us. It is the Love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. As we yield to the Spirit in this way, God begins to do His work through us. If we listen to our own minds on anything, we confess our sin and God if faithful and just to forgive us our sin. Then, He tells us to keep moving in the Spirit. Every time He does His work through us, He plants holy seed into our hearts in the process and we are transfigured by the Holy Spirit. Part of the old Adam dies and Christ becomes more fully formed within us. We are changed–that is holiness. Righteousness is something that God does in us by grace, which is through faith. Holiness is something we become as we die to self and live to Christ. This holiness is progressive, from glory to ever increasing glory. And it leads us into freedom, otherwise called redemption. We are progressively redeemed until we can say that the prince of this worldcomes but he has nothing in me. Satan will not be able to tempt us in that day. This is the day of the manifestation of the sons of God that God speaks of through the Book of Romans. God is always calling us higher. If we remain where we are in Christ, we are being disobedient.

The deception of these fleshly ways goes very deep. I know a woman who is involved in drugs, sexual immorality, alcohol, and wild parties. Yet, she feels that she is the best of all Christians. In fact, she is judgmental of other Christians, Christians who are walking with God. She will not submit to the church. If anyone tells her to avoid these behaviors, she won’t have anything to do with them. She wants the big entertainment church where she can do anything she wants and they don’t preach against sin in any specific way. They don’t make her feel uncomfortable. All of this is a test and we must keep walking in the Spirit of God and never be discouraged.

On the other hand, there are many who invent all kinds of criteria for being born again. If there is sin in someone’s life, the person isn’t born again. If they don’t buy into the speculative denominational doctrine, they aren’t born again. If they thought they were born again but then fall into temptation, they were never born again. I would call that the doctrine of eternal insecurity. No one is safe. If so many people think they are born again who weren’t really born again, this makes us all insecure. I sometimes wonder how the person making the rules determines where to draw the line. God tells us that if we are guilty of one part of the law, we are guilty of all. Just think a wrong thought and you are guilty of all. How can you then point your finger at someone else, and say that they aren’t born again because they have sinned? You don’t get unborn again because you sin. Committing a sin doesn’t prove that you aren’t born again. An unrepentant attitude may result in church discipline if the church is following the order of Scripture. God tells us through the apostle, John, that if we sin and confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sin.

There is often a problem with habits. Salvation is much more than just being born again. For each person, the born-again experience is different. Some have a greater deliverance when they are born again. Some struggle against sin more than others. The Holy Spirit is given for our progressive walk out of sin. God has provided many ways in Scripture for us to appropriate the salvation of God, but all of them involve a yielding to the Spirit of God. All of them involve paying attention to God rather than our own fleshly mind, the pressures of the culture, and demonic forces.

All you can do is to pray for wisdom as to how to minister to your brother. It sounds like your brother is going down a wrong path. Perhaps, he is not even born again, since it seems as if Jesus is not his Lord. God never gave us the ability or responsibility to judge this, though. In fact, He told us not to. We have to leave that in His capable Hands. We can and must judge the difference between good and evil. What you describe is evil.

 

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