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Why do Christians always continue in sin? Some people make numerous commitments and it makes no difference to their life.
Thank you for your question. In many ways I am sad that you have had to ask this question, but I know why you have, and am grateful for the opportunity to help you understand something of what is going on in the lives of those you have observed.
We can start our answer with some words from the Apostle Paul in the Bible who wrote to the church in Rome, concerned about the very thing you are talking about. It seems that some people were teaching that it was fine for a Christian to keep on sinning after they had become a believer, and even teaching that it was a good thing to keep on sinning because it made God’s grace look even better by giving Him the opportunity to forgive more sin. This is the Apostle Paul’s response to these things:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! (Romans 6:1-2)
So, Paul forcefully tells us that there is no way a Christian should ever continue in the sin that God has saved him from - but he then goes on to explain why:
How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death? (Romans 6:2-3)
Paul tells us that when a person becomes a Christian, something happens to them - they die to sin by being baptised into (effectively joining in) the death of Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on a Roman cross 2000 years ago, all those who would put their trust in Him died there with Him. Paul goes on to explain the implications of this even more:
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. (Romans 6:6-7)
What happens to a person who dies with Jesus Christ is huge - their old person, who was a slave to sinful habits and behaviour is now dead, and consequently they are no longer a slave to sin - they are free to stop doing the things that brought death into their lives. Paul also explains the purpose of this in verse 4:
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)
So this is the reality for any Christian who has been truly 'born again' (John 3:3). They are now free from sin, and so no longer need to live in it - they can walk away into a life of righteousness and purity. They can now live a life that, though there are struggles, ultimately brings joy, peace, and fellowship with God, and a life that brings Him glory through the way they live - why wouldn’t you want to live like that?
Now, don’t get me wrong, what I’m not saying is that this is a quick fix - that God clicks His fingers, and suddenly we never sin ever again - it doesn’t work that way! The Bible teaches that though we are born again on the inside, we have a new heart with the Holy Spirit now living inside of us, we are still living in the same body - the Bible calls it the flesh, and it takes time for the new person inside of us to overcome the patterns that have been built up in our flesh over years.
The Bible says we must be 'transformed by the renewing of our minds' (Romans 12:2). When you become a Christian, you will still think about certain situations in the same way you did before, leading you to act a certain way that may be contrary to the way God would want you to live. You’re no longer bound to that sinful act as you were before, but you don’t yet see any different way to act - that’s what the renewing of your mind will fix. As we study and are taught the Scriptures we begin to see things as God sees them, we begin to understand something of why we act certain ways, and we are more and more able to live out the freedom that Christ gave us on the cross.
So, let’s come specifically to the people who you are speaking of, who respond to numerous altar calls in different churches, but don’t seem any different. The first thing to say is this - we should be very slow to start judging other people in this way. It is highly possible that God is at work in someone's life, and we just don’t see it. Christians can grow at different rates, and just because a person struggles with a sin for longer than you may have done, doesn’t mean that they won’t be free from it eventually. We can’t see inside a person's heart, and so we should leave that kind of judgment to God.
When we see someone struggling like this, our first thought shouldn’t be how bad they are, or even how much worse than us they are (pride can so easily kick in), but our first thought should be whether we can help, support, and encourage that person, and point them to Jesus, who ultimately is the answer to their problems.
That said, the Bible gives us a real liberty to say this - if a person professes to be a Christian, but there is no change in their lives, if there is no movement at all towards godliness, and if they constantly go round in the same circles, then there is something seriously wrong. Jesus told us this account of the final judgment which opens this up for us a little:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matthew 25:31-46)
What was the difference between the two sets of people? Those who were welcomed into life were those who lived a changed life - those who didn’t live a change life were sent for destruction. Is Jesus teaching here that we are saved by the things we do? Absolutely not. The Bible makes it clear that we are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:5), that is a free gift from God, given to us when we have faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins - and even that faith was a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). So there is no pride in this assertion at all - any good that comes from any of our lives is good that God has brought about in our lives, it is only by His grace. However, that doesn’t change the fact that those who will enter into heaven are those who have lived a changed life through the power of God.
It is possible that those who you have observed continuing on in the same lifestyle while professing to follow Jesus have never come to that point of having real faith, and knowing the reality that is God giving them new life by His Spirit. Their 'Christianity' may just be an outward observance of religious rituals with no real life. Churches the world over have people like this in them - Jesus told us it would be the case - He said that many would come to Him and tell Him all the great things they’d done for Him in their lives, and He’ll say to them depart from me, I never knew you (Matthew 7:23). It’s a really easy thing to say you’re a Christian, and even to try and do Christian things, but it is only by the power of God that a real Christian life can be lived.
There is so much more to a real Christian life than just rituals - it is all about a relationship with the living God, and so as we come to the end of this answer, all that remains is for me to ask you my friend, where do you stand before God? I hope and pray that you don’t base your standing before God on the fact that you see yourself as better than the people we have been speaking about in this answer. I hope that you don’t think that your efforts to live a Godly life are the reason that God loves you, and will one day welcome you into heaven. If this is the case, then pride is your biggest problem, and I urge you to turn today to the Lord Jesus Christ, and cry out to Him for His mercy. He has died the death that you deserve, so that your pride, and all the other sin in your heart can be forgiven, and you can come to know Him as your Saviour. He also rose from the dead, and is alive today, so He can hear and answer anyone who calls to Him.
Maybe you are not a Christian at all, but just looking from the outside - if so, I urge you not to be put off the Christian faith by those who just use it as a ritual with no reality. People like this don’t define the Christian faith - Jesus Christ defines the Christian faith, and it is Him I urge you to turn to. He is willing today to give you the gifts of eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and acceptance with God. He is willing today to start the process of changing you into the person God always intended you to be - so why not trust Him?
Lastly, it may be that you are already walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, already having known the reality of being given new life - all I urge you to do is to keep walking. Once again, don’t be put off by people who don’t know the reality of a relationship with God - you keep looking to Him to change you by the power of His Spirit into the person He wants you to be, a person through whose changed life He receives great glory, and by which one day you will be welcomed into heaven forever.
As I close, let me encourage you to take your questions to the leaders of your church - be wise about mentioning people specifically, but I’m sure your leaders would welcome the chance to help you with these issues.
Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:
- Romans 6-8
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Matthew 7:13-29
I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video
I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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