WHY ARE THERE CHRISTIANS WHO PERSISTENTLY LIVE LIKE LOST PEOPLE?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“How can a person who claims to be saved live a lifestyle that is against God’s teaching and call himself saved? I mean, there are Scriptures that you have mentioned and others that I have read that show how a righteous person should live. Despite the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, doesn’t give people the right to live any way they choose.”
Thank you for bringing these points to our attention. We can all learn some valuable insight concerning “loose living” in the lives of Christians. Unquestionably, there is much inconsistent living among many Christians—some more so than others, but inconsistent living nonetheless. We talk about “grace,” but we are not always gracious. We speak of “holiness,” but we do not always separate ourselves unto God’s Word and will. We talk about “Jesus Christ,” but we often exhibit the actions of Adam. We speak of “truth,” but we often behave according to error. The world has seen the lives of many so-called “Christians” and scoffs, “Look at all those hypocrites in the church! I want no part of that ‘Jesus Christ’ they serve!” A dear friend in the ministry once expressed it this way: “The Devil does not have to bash the name of Jesus Christ—‘Christians’ do that already!” Beloved, it is a sad commentary indeed. We need to turn to the Scriptures and let God’s Word enable us to correct our thinking and modify our behavior.
SAVED UNTO GOOD WORKS, NOT SAVED TO CONTINUE IN SIN
Years ago, a Bible commentator quoted some anonymous person: “I looked for the church, and found it in the world; I looked for the world, and found it in the church!” If that was true a half-century ago, how much more today?
Whenever there is “loose living” any professing Christian’s life, one of two things is always true: (1) he or she has never understood that he or she was saved unto good works, or (2) he or she has forgotten that he or she was saved unto good works.
Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us: “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” He or she needs to study the Bible to learn about the Christian life God gave him or her in Christ. Titus 2:13-14 says, “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.”
Certainly, we Christians should have good works. We should be passionate about good works. Our new nature in Christ produces good works if we let it. See Philippians 1:9-11. All three chapters of the book of Titus talk about Christian good works. But, and it is sad to say it again, some Christians do not have a life of good works. They are saved and on their way to heaven, no doubt about it, but you would never know it by looking at their lifestyles. Just look at the Corinthians! I know many Christians like that. I am sure that you do, too. They parade their sin for all the world to see. They post graphic pictures, foul language, and obscene jokes on social media for everyone to behold their “Christian” testimony. They have a free will, and they have chosen not to access their Christian identity by faith. Paul preached to the Corinthians for 18 months, and did they appropriate that doctrine by faith? Most of them did not! The professing “church” today is just as guilty of carelessness, of “loose living.” We need not wonder why lost people do not want to hear what we have to say about Jesus Christ and His Word.
1. WORLDLY LIVING EASIER THAN CHRISTIAN LIVING.
It is much, much, much easier to walk in the default position—to be fleshly, to sin, to walk in the nature we inherited from Adam. To walk in the Spirit is only accomplished once we study and believe Bible verses, and many Christians just find Bible study too burdensome, too inconvenient, and/or too confusing. They are too busy for God. They do not study the Bible, and thus, they have no verses to guide them. If they do study the Bible, they cannot understand what they read, and so it is as if they had no Bible at all. Dispensational Bible study will greatly help these people make sense of the Bible. It will cause them to see that Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s complete will for them. The answer is not religion. The answer is grace! Grace! GRACE!
Christians who live like the world, they have compromised. They will not jeopardize their social life for Jesus Christ. They want to spare themselves the ridicule for being an “odd Christian.” So, to please men, they serve men instead of serving Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:10). John 12:42-43 says this is nothing new: “ Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Our goal as dispensational Bible believers is not to have men’s approval, but “God’s approval” (2 Timothy 2:15). After all, we are to seek the approval of the Person whose opinion alone counts forever.
Other times, Christians know certain activities are wrong, and they do them anyway. This is not ignorance. This is just willful disobedience. It is deliberate sin. Even as Christians, we lie, cheat, use foul language, feel pride, envy, lust, et cetera. In 1 Thessalonians 5:19, Paul admonished the Thessalonians, “Quench not the Spirit.” To “quench” is defined as “to put out or extinguish” or “to subdue or destroy; overcome; quell.” The Holy Spirit has a firm desire to work in His people, but He will not force Himself on them if they want to live in their own resources and do their own thing. They will be miserable Christians, I can assure you, but they will still be Christians, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, not saved by their performance. Although going to heaven, they will have no joy of the Holy Ghost in believing, because they have not believed the grace doctrines that produce joy and peace (Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22).
Personally, I know “grace believers” who consistently live worse than denominational people. They are such a hindrance to God’s ministry and such a poor exhibition of God’s grace. I am talking about some pastors and common grace people. They live as though grace is a license to sin (giving our critics ample “ammunition”). They act like children when they should be thinking like full-grown (adult) Christians! See, some Christians will quench the Spirit more than other Christians. But, whether a little or a lot, we should not be hindering the Holy Spirit from working in our lives. To stop the Holy Spirit from living Jesus Christ’s life in and through us, is for us to live completely contrary to the eternal life that we have been given in Jesus Christ.
Mature Christians will not continually quench the Holy Spirit. Those who have a solid footing in the Holy Scriptures rightly divided, they will not constantly quench Him. Yes, we all make mistakes, and we all sin. But, to persistently live a “gutter lifestyle” is not what a Christian should be doing. Christians who do not have a firm understanding of God’s Word to them, they will not have God’s power in their lives, and so they will not have stability in their inner man. Again, if there are no sound Bible verses, there will be no godly living and no righteous living. If they are being educated in the world (college, television, internet, workplace, denominational churches, et cetera), and not educated in the Holy Bible rightly divided, they have not got a prayer of victorious Christian living. I know because I experienced it myself in my own Christian life. Perhaps you have had your own experiences with these things.
2. BIBLE IGNORANCE MAKES THE CHRISTIAN LIFE NONFUNCTIONAL.
Sometimes, Christians just need to be taught that certain activities are wrong. They are not always aware of what is Christian behavior and what is not. I have dealt with people like that as well. Maybe they had poor role models who claimed to be Christians, and they are simply behaving in a way that they think is “Christian-like.” I have dealt with people like that also. How can these dear people save themselves from such bad thinking? They need to go read and believe Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3. Much wisdom can be found in these chapters. They can also read the two books of Thessalonians. The Thessalonian saints were model and mature Christians—although they were not sinless, remember!
Once, a Christian man emailed me to express his utter confusion and spiritual fatigue. He had been so “beaten up spiritually” in local churches that he did not know what to believe anymore. The preachers would always rant and rave against sin but they would never tell their congregations how to do right. They wanted their people to quit sinning but they never told their people how to do it. They placed more emphasis on what those people were doing than on what Jesus Christ did to do away with their sin. No wonder Christians are so depressed and defeated today! They are too focused on garbage teaching than on grace teaching!
God gave the ministry of pastors and teachers to help Christians grow in their knowledge of His Word (Ephesians 4:11-14). Church leaders and common Christians are to “teach every man in all wisdom” (Colossians 1:28). Colossians 2:6-7 says that our Christian life will function properly only if we are “taught.” These precious Christian souls who live like the world, they have to be taught what the Bible says about Christian living specificities. Oftentimes, people are not being taught Christian doctrine in churches today. They are being entertained, they are singing and dancing, they are learning denominational clichés and creeds, they are reading “Christian bestsellers,” but they are not hearing, studying, and believing the Holy Bible. Unless they know the Bible, the Holy Spirit will not be able to work in them. He needs verses to work in Christians.
Faith will only come once we hear or read God’s Word (Romans 10:17), so if we are not reading or hearing God’s Word, there can be no faith, and without faith, the Word of God cannot work in us. 1 Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
3. USING THE BIBLE NON-DISPENSATIONALLY DESTROYS THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Romans chapter 7 discusses how whenever Paul would attempt to live the Christian life in his own strength and resources—that is, laboring under the demands of the Mosaic Law system—he would fail miserably. Many Christians do not know the Word of God’s grace, they do not know God’s Word rightly divided, and so they place themselves under the law system. They use the Bible but they do not rightly divide the Bible. They use God’s Word to destroy themselves. They make shipwreck of their Christian lives. Satan could not be happier. They do not know that God’s grace teaches us how to live today. Too many Christians today are trying to make themselves holy. They are using the Bible—the Law system—to walk contrary to the doctrine that God speaks to us today in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Oh, what a travesty!
They are not walking by faith in their identity in Christ. We are already holy in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:31). The key to overcoming sin is Jesus Christ, not us. We died to sin by virtue of Calvary. Romans chapter 6 covers that topic extensively. If you want to live a life of defeat and misery, we should follow chapter 7. Romans chapter 7 is the result of not following chapter 6 by faith. Chapter 8 is the result of following chapter 6 by faith.
We will read Romans chapter 8, the first 15 verses, here: “ There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
In verses 5-9, Romans chapter 8 talks about two types of Christians—those who are carnal and those who are spiritual. Take the Christians who are “carnally minded.” These are the Corinthians—people who were “carnal,” fleshly, worldly (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). If we are “carnally minded” we will have functionally dead Christian lives. In other words, we will live like the Devil and act like the lost world! On the other hand, Christians who are “spiritually minded” will have lives that agree with sound Bible doctrine. These are the Thessalonians. This is the life of Jesus Christ manifested for all to see! This is the grace life described in the Apostle Paul’s epistles! This is the victory over sin that God gives us through Jesus Christ! This is Christian living!
These verses present the two diametrically opposed lives from which we Christians can choose—live like the world or let Jesus Christ live in and through us. We can let the Holy Spirit teach us His Word and then walk by faith in an intelligent understanding of that Word, or we can just walk in our flesh and resources and get literally nowhere in the Christian life. People who are living in their own strength—whether saved or lost—cannot please God. Our flesh, even as saved people, can offer nothing to God. We are spiritually weak. But, the Holy Spirit activates the Word of God in our lives when we believe the Word of God rightly divided. The Holy Ghost makes the life of Jesus Christ become a reality in our lives.
FREE TO CHOOSE—RIGHTEOUS LIVING AND SINFUL LIVING
The Bible talks about two types of Christians in 2 Timothy 2:20-26—those who are “vessels to honour” and “vessels to dishonour.” Some Christians’ lives bring honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. Other Christians’ lives bring utter shame to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was like that in Paul’s day 2,000 years ago, and it is true even today. Some people just want to “oppose themselves”—they prefer to live contrary to who they really are. They do not act in accordance with their Christian identity. Again, that does not make it right, but that is how it is. God has given them (and us) liberty to choose right and wrong. Grace is not obligatory or mandatory. It is a “free gift,” with no strings attached (Romans 3:24; Romans 5:15-18). We should take the gift and appreciate it. But, again, we are not required.
Because we are under grace, God does not force us to behave right. The Law of Moses, however, that was a strict system—“Do good or you will be punished!” Just look at Deuteronomy chapter 28 and Leviticus chapter 26. It was during this type of system that Jesus emphasized good works to Israel. The same is true with James chapter 2. Often, I think there is a lot of “loose living” even in the religious world because people are struggling under some law system. They keep striving to stop sin in their own strength and their flesh is just too weak. According to Romans 6:14-15, sin will dominate our lives when we make our performance the issue: “ For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” People struggling in their power to control sin need the power of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork in their lives! Our answers are not found in Israel’s program or Israel’s law system. Our answers are found in our program, Romans through Philemon. We need to be led by the Spirit of God as He teaches us the doctrines of God’s grace.
Again, today, in the Dispensation of Grace, as members of the Church the Body of Christ, we are under grace not law. The choice is ours—walk in our Christian identity or walk as though we were still in Adam. God did not make Adam and Eve as robots, and we are not robots. We can tell the Holy Spirit “no” and refuse to let Him work in us. The Corinthians and the Galatians were doing this. The Thessalonians, however, were model examples of Christian living, and Paul encourage them to continue in their godly testimonies (see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12). He did not want them to slide away from the truth and hinder the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He wanted them to remain with the doctrines of grace. We can learn much about Christian living today by comparing and contrasting the Thessalonians (grace-oriented), the Galatians (law-oriented), and the Corinthians (man-oriented).
Grace does not force us to serve Father God. We should serve Him out of a grateful heart, yes, so if a Christian does not have a life filled with the works of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, that person is not really grateful to God. He or she has not studied His Word to learn about Christian living, and he or she does not know what Christian living is all about. Or, he or she does know what Christian living is all about, and is simply living in open rebellion against God’s Word. This may be done to please others. Religion, and/or the Bible non-rightly divided (Law of Moses), can be used to give people a false hope that they can manage their sins. Dispensational Bible study is the key to saving yourself from spiritual ruin concerning daily living.
If we know of any Christians, especially family members or friends, who fit this description of “loose living,” we need to approach them in meekness and love and warn them of the damage they are doing to their Christian testimony. We should certainly not look down on these people, for those who think they stand will fall eventually. Galatians 6:1 says we need to approach these wayward brothers or sisters in Christ in meekness and love. “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.” Try to be as gentle with them as possible. If the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ means anything to them, they will think about what they are doing and make the changes they need to make. If they argue with you, and refuse to reform, the Bible says we should not have social relations with them (see 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).
Years ago, I remember one Christian emailing me to tell me he was confused by professing Christians who lived like they were not Christians at all. Dear friends, just imagine how lost people see it—they are even more confused. We cannot read their hearts, but it is very possible that those “Christians” may not even be saved. They may be merely “nominal Christians,” in name only! Or, maybe they are saved and have not grown in God’s Word rightly divided. There can be many reasons why professing Christians act like lost people. It can be a lack of teaching, or a lack of faith in sound Bible doctrine. It can be willful rebellion or just people who have been taught wrongly about how Christians should live. It may be using parts of the Bible (Moses) that are not written specifically to or about us.
Regardless of the cause, that loose lifestyle makes our Christian testimony so ineffective. That is why people call us hypocrites, and that makes the name of Jesus Christ extremely reproachful. That is one reason why lost people do not want to hear from Christians. Look at the Corinthians. One believer in Corinth was having a sexual relationship with his father’s wife! According to 1 Corinthians 5:1, not even the lost (pagan) Gentiles were guilty of that!!! The Corinthians sued one another over minor matters (1 Corinthians 6:1-8). They fought with each other like animals (1 Corinthians 3:3). The Corinthians’ problem was that they were “carnal” and “babes” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They never let God’s Word transform them. They were so spiritually immature, they acted so devilish/fleshly, and yet they were saved! Shocked?! Sure, we should be.
So, for those who are saved and who act worldly/lost, it could be one of two reasons: (1) they are not hearing any sound Bible doctrine where they go to church—which describes most of them, or (2) if they are hearing any sound doctrine, they are not allowing it to change them. Sometimes, a believer’s heart can grow callous, hardened to change. That is the quenching of the Holy Spirit. God allows that person to exercise free will, so He lets them remain in their rebellious state because they want to stay like that. Second Timothy 2:25-26 talks about Christians (and even lost people) “taken captive by the devil at his will.”
ATTENTION: The 2016 Slidell Grace Bible Conference will be held December 2-4, just north of New Orleans. Guest speakers are: Richard Jordan, John Smith, and I (Shawn Brasseaux). We would love to have you in attendance! Please see this flyer for more info: https://arcministries.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/2016-slidell-gbc.pdf.