I have some questions that have been hindering my relationship with God and have made me struggle for several years.
- How does God view those who have an addiction as a believer? Does Hebrews 10 talk to the addict when it says those who continue to deliberately sin? It is difficult to believe God is forgiving when one is trying to fight something they are a slave to, especially when it seems like each fall is deliberate no matter the viewpoint.
- Also, how much of a role does one Christian play in another Christian’s salvation? We are commanded to share our faith in the Great Commission, but is there blood on our hands if we don’t? And would we lose our salvation? What exactly is our role and when is someone’s blood on our hands?
These are good questions. I especially find the first question to be an interesting and important one. Believe it or not, I have never gotten this question, and I get a lot of questions!
Some say that all sins are equal. I do not agree. I do agree that in terms of our needing forgiveness and being lost, all sins are equal. Any sin will keep us out of heaven if not forgiven. In this sense, one sin is not greater than another.
Yet, the Bible does make a clear distinction between willful and accidental sin. You mention Hebrews 10:26 which does seem to make a clear distinction between “deliberate” sin and unwillful sin, telling us that it is willful, deliberate sin which is most liable to cause us to lose our salvation. It also warns us that such intentional sin, if carried on, over a period of time, will result in our losing our place with God. A passage in the Old Testament makes this distinction even more specific and clear. It is Numbers 15:27-30. This passage talks about unintentional versus deliberate, defiant sin. In this passage, God tells the Jews that the sacrifices he gave them are only for unintentional sins, nor for the sins of defiance (in other words for willful sin). Given Hebrews 10:26-31, I conclude that this distinction, though perhaps not quite as black and white, is still very significant.
It also seems clear that the actions of addicts does constitute willful sin. For an alcoholic to sin, they must buy the alcohol before they consume. There is an element of planning in such sins. This is true of the behavior of gambling addicts, sexual sin addicts and all other kinds of addicts. One has to step into a gambling house or click on an online gambling site to commit this sin. The same for sexual or other addictive sins. All of us “fall” into lust or greed or other kinds of sins every day. It is not that these sins are less sinful, but the consequences of such sins on our eternal salvation and on our hearts is different. On this I have to agree with your premise.
This is why your question is such a good one, in my opinion. Here is my response to your question. Continued addictive behavior after salvation is very dangerous, both to our hearts, and to our salvation. I am not in a place to judge the specifics of how much and how long one indulges in such deliberate sin before one loses salvation. This is for God to judge. One can argue that such addictive behaviors are particularly difficult to change. My response is that this is why it is so imperative for a Christian to overcome this sinful behavior. Is God more understanding of how difficult this is? I will let him speak for himself on judgment day, but I still say we should pay very careful attention to these kinds of sins, as they are particularly damaging to our character, our heart before God and, ultimately to our salvation. Should we live every day in mortal dread that this is our last and we have crossed the threshold? I do not know about that, but I say let us take addictions VERY seriously, as our salvation is at stake here.
Your second question is a very different one. We are not saved by sharing our faith. We are not saved by “discipling” another Christian. These are the voluntary acts of people who are already saved. Your salvation does NOT depend on how many times you share your faith or whether or not you are sufficiently diligent in taking care of the believers who are in your life. Doing this as we should is a response to God’s love, not a way to earn God’s love. So, you should give attention to these things, not so that you are saved or so that you stay saved, but because you love God and because, although YOUR salvation may not be at stake, the salvation of others may very well depend on whether you share your faith or whether you sufficiently support and encourage those who are already saved. However, our salvation before God depends on what we do, not on what someone else does. On judgment day, you will be responsible for what you did, not for whether someone else was saved.
Paul did say in Acts 20:26 that he was “innocent of the blood of all men.” I believe he could say this because he was faithful to declaring the gospel in any and all situations (although I am sure he was not perfect in this!). Wouldn’t it be great if we could say what Paul said? Wouldn’t this make for a great and satisfying Christian life? Yes! However, Paul did not earn his salvation by declaring the gospel, and he was not more saved by doing so. Please do not make this a salvation issue, but let us make it an issue of loving God more and being closer to his will, and glorifying him more, not a salvation issue.