Question of the Week: Is it possible for a Christian to be “handed over to their sin?”
There are two relationships we have with God. We are either in the category of a Christian, and considered legally righteous before Him entirely due to the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Or we are in the category of a non-Christian, and legally culpable for our sins. In these two types of relationships, there are two ways that God judges our sin in this life. For those in the category of a non-Christian, God judges their sin by allowing them to sin. This is what’s referred to as being handed over to their sin.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
Romans 1:18-25 (NKJV)
This is how God judges a non-Christian. In their willful exchange of the Creator for the Creation, God judges them by allowing them to do so. He doesn’t force anyone into a relationship with Him, but functions as the Judge of all the Earth whether they acknowledge Him as such or not. His judgment to the non-Christian is allowing them to see why He calls those actions, attitudes, and aspirations less than His best for them.
The question remains if this is possible for a Christian. The answer is no, in the sense of how Romans 1 describes the state of the non-Christian in judgment before God. If anything else, the standard God holds those who know better is much higher than that held to non-Christians.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NKJV)
Paul the Apostle addresses a situation where sin is tolerated within the church, by an individual who is never once referred to as a non-believer. They are certainly acting like one, but are never referred to as such. Paul’s verdict isn’t to hand this man over to his sin like Romans 1, but to hand him over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh. The purpose is so that his spirit may be saved. The severity of this judgment can’t be understated. Christians are held to a higher standard, and thus see harsher immediate penalties for their sin because they know better.
And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
Luke 12:47-48 (NKJV)
This may frighten some people, especially those who are struggling in an area of sin. However, we need to understand that this is actually a source of great comfort for the Christian. If God let us get away with our sin, (handing us over to it) He would be treated us like non-Christians and thus no longer in a saving relationship with Him. If a Christian is called out and called out harshly for their sin in this life, God is treating them like a loving Father treats His children.
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.
Hebrews 12:5-8 (NKJV)
God hands non-Christians over to their sin by respecting their decision to reject Him. This is impossible for a Christian to do, or they’d be a non-Christian by definition. You can’t reject Jesus and follow God. God judges Christians who pursue lifestyles of sin by treating them like His children. He disciplines them. It can be through taking away His peace from their hearts, or as severe as taking away His spiritual protection from them entirely. The purpose is to restore us to Him. However, this is only if we take it that far. Christians sin just as often as non-Christians, but have one apt and immediate response we can make that is not available to non-Christians. Or they’d become Christian by definition.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:8-9 (NKJV)
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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