ONCE CHRISTIANS FALL INTO GROSS SIN, WILL GOD EVER USE THEM AGAIN?
by Shawn Brasseaux
A believer in Christ recently asked me, “What about Christians who drift away from God, who go out and live like the world, and who then reform? Will God still use them?” After being in denominational churches for years, like so many others, she had been instructed to believe that, even if “worldly” Christians change their ways, God will never use them again. Is that so? Beloved, let us consult the Holy Scriptures for enlightenment. I am sure many of our readers wonder about this same issue.
Friends, in case you have not noticed, religion is very strict. Remember, if it were not rigorous, it would not be religion! Religion is demanding, very demanding. It involves people striving to make God happy with them. Friend, you know good and well that you are wicked, nowhere near where God’s holiness demands you be, but religion causes you to slave away in “hopes” of pleasing Him somehow. You are instructed to pray a certain number of times a day, to do your best to keep the Ten Commandments, to confess your sins as often as you can, to bring in the “tithes and offerings” every Sunday, to read your holy books so many times a week, to observe the feast days and other holydays, on and on. This is true not only in Roman Catholicism. Sadly, these ideas have crept into Protestant churches. One slip-up and, my, you have to pay one way or another—prayers, “generous donations,” excommunication, shunning, name-calling, guilt, shame, fear, et cetera!
For example, if you grew up in a strict Protestant church like me, you heard something to the effect of, “A man who has been divorced can neither be pastor nor deacon of our assembly!” (Meanwhile, some non-divorced apostate polluted at seminary is welcomed to the pulpit with open arms and loving smiles!) In these strict systems, a divorced and remarried man is barred forever from serving in a church leadership role. I will come out and say it, knowing full well that I will shock some of you. God prefers a divorced man leading a local assembly than a still-married man who does not believe the Bible he claims to believe and love! It may shock many to read this, but divorce can be forgiven, friends. And, an apostate leader will do greater damage than a divorced leader ever will! Just a few things for us to keep in mind.
CHRISTIANS WHO DRIFT AWAY FROM GOD
Dear friends, be very careful to notice the above title. Christians drift from God; God never abandons Christians. Let me explain to you how it happens.
First, one brief introductory comment must be made. You have probably heard of so-called “backslidden Christians.” While I understand what people are trying to say, the Pauline epistles do not use the word “backslidden” when discussing members of the Body of Christ. It was a term God used to describe wayward Israel. Thus, it would be best not to use terminology that described Israel’s relationship with God in time past, to describe our relationship with God today. If you want a Scriptural term for wayward Christians today, you could say they are “ensnared Christians” or “captive Christians” (2 Timothy 2:26).
Friend, stop and think about what exactly happened to a Christian to make him or her “go out in the world.” No matter the particular sins, all Christians who fell into worldly behavior had the same basic experience. There came a specific point in life when they quit reading their Bible. Perhaps they put it off a day or two, but, little by little, they weaned themselves from God’s Word. Some have not opened a Bible for themselves in months or years. The Bible provides life (John 6:63), light (Psalm 119:130), and power (1 Thessalonians 2:13) to those who are willing to hear and believe it. So, you take away the Bible, and you have functional death, darkness, and inability. In other words, the Christian robbed himself or herself of God’s power and God’s life, and the world influenced him or her with their way of thinking and living. The only way to get that life, light, and power back is to return to what he or she left—God’s Word! Again, God never abandoned the Christian. The Christian abandoned God and His Word. Let us develop this further, while correcting some common misconceptions.
No matter what, to be “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) is for Father God to accept you forever. Yes, that is a literal “forever”—never-ending, unconditional acceptance. Recall that He never accepted you on the basis of what you did. You are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). That is, God accepted you because of what His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, did at Calvary to bridge the gap between you the sinner and Him a holy, righteous God. Romans 8:32 declares: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If God “delivered up” His Son for us, what else is there for Him to give us? Nothing! Not a thing! He gave us His Son, and in His Son, we have everything we will ever need from God. Furthermore, everything that God has purposed us to do, He already equipped us to do it.
First and foremost, this “complete package from God” contains the complete and eternal salvation and fellowship with Him. But, there is more. It also contains the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to get that work of God accomplished. But, one thing must be present in your life if the Holy Spirit will work in your life. God’s complete and eternal Book, the Holy Bible, which you need to read in order to gain the information God wants to share with you. Note the classic verses, 2 Timothy 3:16-17: “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”
Christian friend, unless your mind is renewed daily with verses that you read in your Bible, you are not going to be “minding [thinking about] the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5-9). Rather, you are going to be “minding the things of the flesh [sin].” This is how Christians “go out in the world.” They did not lose their salvation. They did not lose the Holy Spirit. Rather, they ignored God’s Word, thereby “quenching” (preventing/hindering) the Holy Spirit from working in them (1 Thessalonians 5:19). In short, they reverted back to the old way of thinking and living. They are not behaving like the saints of God they are, because they are not thinking like the saints of God they are!
Romans 12:1-2 instructs us: “ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Friend, unless you know God’s Word, you do not know God’s will! You must renew your mind with God’s Word daily, or you will most definitely lapse into your old mentality and your old lifestyle at some point. The grace God means God gives you the choice, never forcing you to do anything. If you want to be “conformed to this world” rather than be “transformed by the renewing of your mind,” God will not stand in your way. (You will reap the consequences, whatever you decide.)
Colossians 3:16 admonishes us: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Ephesians chapter 5, the companion passage, amplifies: “ See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”
Do you see how Colossians and Ephesians connect “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” with “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is?” And, did you notice how, once you know the Lord’s will, you can be “filled with the Spirit?” Once you have a steady intake of sound Bible doctrine (rightly divided Scripture), you will learn God’s will for your life. Once you know God’s will for your life, then the indwelling Holy Spirit can take those verses and make God’s will for your life become a reality. Once the Holy Spirit controls your life, your life will literally become the life described by the verses!
What God wants accomplished, He already gave us information and detailed instructions in His written Word, especially in the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. When we consider the above verses, it becomes abundantly clear. If your Christian life is in shambles, it is because you have not been reading, believing, and applying those Pauline verses of grace to your life! You have been living in your flesh, your own resources, your own energy, and you are now realizing those failures. It is time for you to get back to reality and start behaving like the person in Christ you really are!
CHRISTIANS WHO LIVE LIKE THE WORLD
Please understand. Christians who “live like the world” would not simply be bar-hoppers, gamblers, drunkards, cigarette-smokers, fornicators, thieves, murderers, profanity users, et cetera. It could also apply to believers caught up in religion—ceremonies, rites, rituals, denominational adherence, works-religion, and so on. Contrary to popular belief, the evil world system is not merely confined to sins of the flesh. It also involves sins of the spirit (works-religion). Grace living in Jesus Christ is not loose living. Grace living in Jesus Christ is not religion, either!
Second Timothy chapter 2 highlights the two types of lifestyles we Christians can pursue: “ Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.  If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.  Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
One, we can be a “common Christian” of “wood and earth.” We can lead just a normal life that blends in with everyone else’s. They will not be able to tell us from lost people. Or, we can be an “exceptional Christian” of “gold and silver.” We can allow God’s life to live in us so mightily that we will stick out and people will definitely see us practice what we preach! In other words, we can be “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Again, brother or sister, it is your choice. Your choice—honour or dishonour. If I could decide for you, I would. Since I cannot, I can only encourage you to make the right decision. You know the right choice.
The assembly at Corinth was the epitome of “garbage-can Christianity.” How it broke the Apostle Paul’s heart to hear and read of the absolute spiritual mayhem in the church at Corinth! While I am sure a few faithful Christians were there, much of the assembly was composed of Christians who behaved the worst in Scripture. Even after the Apostle Paul himself had spent 18 months teaching them, they were still such confused, deceived, carnal babes in Christ! Friend, go read those two Bible books known as “Corinthians.” You will not help but see today’s professing church described in those chapters. The same old silly problems that Satan used 20 centuries ago to befuddle Christians in Corinth, he uses them today to hinder millions upon millions Christians worldwide!
At this point, I can hear someone saying, “Oh, brother, the problem in Corinth was that they just needed the Law of Moses to help them manage their sin!” Really? The churches in Galatia had wholly embraced the Mosaic Law. Read the six chapters of Galatians. The Apostle Paul rebuked them harshly for getting entangled again with works-religion. He asked them in chapter 4, verse 15, “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of?” After Paul had left Galatia, false teachers had slipped in and led these grace saints back under the Law. The Galatians, once excited and happy about being delivered from pagan religion and hellfire, were now depressed and defeated. They were laboring once more using a system in which they knew they could never measure up. Writing to them, Paul asked them, “Where is the joy that God’s grace brought you?” They were just as miserable as he was when he put himself under the Law in Romans chapter 7. Despite their “religious” practices that appeared nice, those Galatians were “biting and devouring” one another, arguing, fussing, and fighting with each other (Galatians 5:15). Sound familiar? The Law was not the answer. Grace was the answer!
CHRISTIANS WHO REFORM
Perhaps, dear saint, something in this Bible study applies to you or some Christian you know. In the quietness of your own heart, you have identified the problem. You know there is a difficulty, some type of worldliness present in some Christian’s life somewhere (either yours or someone else’s). What is the answer? How do you (or they) go about reforming? You have to be reoriented toward God’s grace!
Firstly, you need to understand that God has already forgiven you. You need not wonder if He will forgive you. You need not grovel on the floor and beg His forgiveness. His Word says He has already forgiven you because of Jesus Christ’s sake.
Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Ephesians 4:32: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Colossians 2:13: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” Colossians 3:13: “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Just accept God’s forgiveness, learn from your mistake, and move on! Friend, let go of the burdens of guilt and shame. Jesus Christ suffered and died to pay for your sins, so send it all to Calvary where it belongs and get on with your life in Christ!
Secondly, please seek some sound spiritual counsel from another Christian, preferably face-to-face contact. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” If you have a trusted Christian friend (especially a pastor or Bible teacher), this individual can help advise you in the Scriptures concerning your specific issue. Please consider discussing your matter with that person. There is no need to be embarrassed because we all sin; we all have our failures and we all have maturing to do. And, remember, those who arrogantly snub their nose at you may wind up committing the same sin (read the end of Galatians 6:1; cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13). If that person is truly Christ’s servant, motivated by God’s grace, he or she will be sympathetic to you and try to teach you sound grace Bible doctrine so you can recover yourself out of the dilemma.
Notice what Paul told Timothy in the closing verses of 2 Timothy chapter 2: “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” The way people escape their Satanic oppression—their entrapment in sin, false teaching, and so on—is for them to hear or read God’s Word rightly divided. Timothy was instructed to teach that Word, that he may recover others from Satan’s grip. (This loops back to Galatians 6:1 above.)
Friend, no one can recover you. You must recover yourself, the verse says. The Bible says, if you are taken captive by Satan, you are living contrary to your identity in Jesus Christ. Sin is not who you are. Religion is not who you are. You “oppose yourself.” You are behaving like someone you are not. Satan has ensnared you and you are doing his will by not accomplishing God’s will. The answer is simple. You have to return to the truth. Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Brother or sister, return to Paul’s epistles! Get back to learning about your identity in Christ! Refocus your mind on sound Bible doctrine, the Word of God’s Grace.
In closing, we read Titus 2:11-15: “ For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.” Go read the book of Romans five times. Romans is an introduction to the grace life. Then, read Romans through Philemon five times, the full curriculum of the grace life. Note the verses that help you address your problems and apply them by faith. Those verses are what the Holy Spirit will use to bring the life of Jesus Christ into your life. Friend, there is hope if you submit to the Holy Spirit’s will!
WILL GOD STILL USE THEM?
Why not? Despite the works that they did as lost people, Father God saved them and used them for good works. Then, as believers, they fell into gross sin. How is that, if they are saved and now willing to do right, will He not once again use them? When I think about His grace, it seems pretty logical to me He will! 🙂