I was recently asked an interesting question that I think is a challenging one, and I thought it would make a good sermon that will cause you to think.
The question is will one un-repented sin make you lose your salvation if you die before you get to repent of it? I began to do some research on this question, but to my dismay, I could not find anyone in all my resources that dealt with this specific question. Now, I am sure others have answered this question before, but I could not find many thoughts on the matter. So, I will do my best to answer this question to best of my ability, and I would love to hear what you think about my conclusion. If you believe I have missed some crucial information from the Scriptures, please let me know so that my answer will match what the Bible teaches.
Questions like these are not always easy to answer but as Peter said:
1 Peter 3:15 But
sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a
defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with
meekness and fear;
The first thing I would say is that I am not in
the position of God, and He will determine who goes to heaven and hell, not me.
Now I could stop here, but I believe we can gain much insight from the
Scriptures that will help us make a righteous judgment (Jn. 7:24) in regards to
what sin can do to us and what God will do about it. Jesus said:
"He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges
him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
2 Corinthians 5:10 For we
must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive
the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good
20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing
before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the
Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the
things which were written in the books.
These verses teach us that on the Day of Judgment
Jesus will judge us by the Word of God and how we kept it. Since Godís Word
fully equips us for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17) and gives us all things
that pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), this means that if we study
Godís Word, we can be prepared for the Day of Judgment. It also means that we
can learn everything we need to know about being saved and about the
consequences of sin.
Some denominations teach the idea that once you
are saved you are always saved, but we can know that this extreme is not true
because the New Testament makes it abundantly clear that we can lose our
salvation, which means un-repented sin can cause a Christian to miss heaven.
Let me give you a small sample of the verses that prove once saved always saved
is not true:
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is
withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they
If we choose not to abide in Christ, we will be
Hebrews 6:4- For it
is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the
heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,† 5 and have tasted the good word of
God and the powers of the age to come,† 6
if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify
again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.†
The writer is clearly talking about Christians who
have fallen away because of sin.
Hebrews 10:26 For if
we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there
no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,† 27
but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will
devour the adversaries.
Those who continue to sin willfully and do not
repent will face the judgment of God. Again, the writer is talking about a
Christian who is sinning.
Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest
we drift away.†
If we do not take heed to Godís Word and make it
part of our life, we can find ourselves drifting away from God because of sin.
2 Peter 2:20 †For if, after they have escaped the pollutions
of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they
are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them
than the beginning.
Notice, those who were
saved, were in a worse position before they became saved if they entangle
themselves in sin. So, un-repented sin can cause a Christian to miss heaven.
1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore
let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
Hebrews 12:15 looking
carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of
bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;
Galatians 5:4 You
have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by
law; you have fallen from grace.
These last three verses prove that we can fall
from Godís grace, and sin is what brings about spiritual death/separation from
Isaiah 59:2 But
your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His
face from you, So that He will not hear.
Romans 6:23 For the
wages of sin is death,
Some have the idea that grace is like an umbrella
that bounces sin off like it does rain drops, but that is not how Godís grace
works. Of course, Godís grace means unmerited favor, which we received through
Jesus. Godís grace is embodied in Jesusí death, burial, and resurrection and
everything that goes with it. But as Paul said:
Ephesians 2:8 For by
grace you have been saved through faith,
We are saved by Godís grace, but not by grace
alone. We accept His saving grace by having an obedient faith by obeying Godís
commands. Grace is Godís part, an obedient faith is our part. Our obedient
faith in no way merits or salvation, it simply how we accept it. †Even though we do not deserve to have our past
sins forgiven or our future sins, Godís grace has made this possible and has
given us power over sin.
James tells us how sin happens:
James 1:14 But
each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.† 15 Then, when desire has
conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth
James is describing the kind of sin that is caused by a temptation we have a desire for, and when we indulge in it, it is sin and when it has reached it final stage, it brings forth death. While sin can cause physical death, the idea here is spiritual death/separation from God.
We also sin when we do not do that which is right (James 4:17). Sometimes we sin and we are not even aware of it. So, it is easy for sin to enter into our life.
Now notice what John says:
1 John 1:7 But if
we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.† 8 If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.† 9 If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all
unrighteousness.† 10 If we say
that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Notice the conditional word ďifĒ.
We must walk in the light, which means we are striving to live our life for God
in accordance with His Word. We cannot be half-hearted Christians who live like
the world and expect to be considered as walking in the light. For those who
have obeyed the gospel and are living faithfully to God has the promise that
Jesusí blood will continue to cleanse us.
Part of walking in the light is
to admit when you sin and to confess those sins to God. We can know when we
confess our sins to God, that Jesusí blood will continue to cleanse us. To show
the importance of confessing your sins note the example of Simon who had just
been baptized, but wanted to buy the ability to pass on the Holy Spirit from
Acts 8:18 And
when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy
Spirit was given, he offered them money,†
19 saying, "Give me this power also, that anyone on whom
I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit."†
20 But Peter said to him, "Your money perish with you,
because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!† 21 "You have neither part nor
portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.† 22 "Repent therefore of this
your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be
forgiven you.† 23 "For I
see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."† 24 Then Simon answered and said,
"Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken
may come upon me."
Simon was a brand new Christian,
but it did not take him long to revert to his old ways and he sinned. Peter did
not say, donít worry about it because once your saved your always saved. No, he
told him to repent of his wickedness so that he might be forgiven. This it is
why it is important for us to ask Godís forgiveness for our sins every day. We
can take confidence in knowing that God will forgive us of all our sins when we
Part of the difficulty in
answering our question if one would be lost for one un-repented sin is that we
do have a specific example or answer to this questions that I aware of. What we
do know is that God is just and merciful. We know that He will punish the wicked
and that we will all have to give an account to God for what have done. We also
know that Jesus will have compassion for us because He knows what it feels like
to be human.
Hebrews 4:15 For we
do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in
all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.†
I also like what Psalm 103 says:
Psalm 103:8 The
LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in
mercy.† 9 He will not always
strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.† 10 He has not dealt with us
according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.† 11 For as the heavens are high
above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;† 12 As far as the east is from the
west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.† 13 As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.†
14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.† 15 As for man, his days are
like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.† 16 For the wind passes over it,
and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more.† 17 But the mercy of the LORD is
from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His
righteousness to children's children,† 18
To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do
While there are always
consequences to sin, God does not always give us what we deserve because of His
mercy. But, we should never have the attitude that God is going ignore our sins
because He will not. We must never forget that He knows our hearts and we
cannot hide anything from Him.
I want to stress the point of how
powerful one sin can be:
So, let us never underestimate
the power of sin. As Paul said, let us test ourselves daily to see if we are in
the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). Also Paul said:
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you
not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run
in such a way that you may obtain it.†
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is
temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown,
but we for an imperishable crown.†
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I
fight: not as one who beats the air.†
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into
subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become
We should do our best to keep our
eyes on our goal of heaven and keep pressing forward and not allow sin to ensnare
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore
we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay
aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us
run with endurance the race that is set before us,† 2 looking unto Jesus, the author
and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him
endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of
the throne of God.
One last thought. Since the Bible
teaches that we can be sure of our salvation (1 Jn. 5:13), and Jesus tells us
not worry, and we are taught how joyful it is to be a Christian, I do not think
that God wants us to wake up every day as nervous wrecks wondering and worrying
about every single sin we might have committed unaware and did not repent of.
Yes, He wants us to be aware of our sin, and He wants to confess our sins. Also,
we must realize there will always be consequences to our sin, but it would be difficult
to be full of joy and confidence and not be full of worry if we continually
have the fear that one un-repented sin will shut the door of heaven and will
undo all our faithfulness to the Lord.
I wish I could draw a line in the
sand and say if you cross this line by committing a certain number of
un-repented sins, you will not go to heaven, but I cannot because I cannot
point you to a specific Scripture that tells us this. †All I know for sure is that un-repented sin
has its consequences and it can keep you out of heaven, but our God is merciful
and just, and whatever judgment He renders will be a righteous judgment. God
knows that we struggle with sin (Rom. 3:23), and He knows that we are not
sinless. But, as long as we are striving to serve God faithfully and our heart
is pure, I personally feel that one un-repented sin will not shut the doors of
heaven. Of course, I believe that we will have to give account for it, but that
it will not keep us out of heaven. I base my personal opinion on how merciful
our God is and the many examples of how He has shown mercy on those who were
striving to be faithful. As:
Psalm 147:11 The
LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.
Also James says:
James 2:13 For
judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs
This idea given here is that if you have shown
mercy to others, you will also receive mercy at the Day of Judgment and that
mercy will cause you to triumph, that is to overcome judgment. No wonder Jesus
"Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Matthew 5:7 †Blessed are the merciful, For they
shall obtain mercy.
While verses like these do not
specially mention un-repented sin, I believe it is implied because what else
would we need mercy for other than sin? Now I will admit, I could be wrong in
my personal thought, but in the end, God will make the right judgment call
regardless of what my personal thoughts are.
In conclusion, the Bible clearly teaches that un-repented willful sin can and will separate us from God, and if we continue to sin, we will fall from Godís grace and not make it to heaven. But, if we obey the gospel, and we are faithful to God by walking in the light as He is the light, we can be confident that all our sins will continue to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus when we confess them to the Lord. I personally believe that if we are faithful to God and we have a weak moment and sin, and then we die before we get to confess that sin that it will not keep us out of heaven. However, we will have to give an account for that sin to God. Of course, the finally decision of our fate belongs to God and not me. I am thankful for that because Godís wisdom surpasses all understanding.
While our original question is a very challenging and is one that requires much thought and study. One thing I hope this lesson has brought out is what sin can do us and how it can cause us to miss heaven. We should remind ourselves daily how important it is for us to live our lives to the best of our ability in accordance with Godís Word. If we see that we are not worshiping God or living our lives as the Bible tells us to, then we must make the necessary changes so that we will not miss out on heaven. When we choose to endure and remain faithful to the day we die, we can die with confidence knowing what our destination will be. As Paul said:
2 Timothy 4:7 I have
fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.† 8 Finally, there is laid up for me
the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to
me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His
So, let us never make light of the power of sin, or lose the joy of being a Christian by knowing that our faithfulness, not sinless perfection, will cause us to receive the crown of righteousness as promised by Jesus:
Revelation 2:10 "Do
not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil
is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and
you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give
you the crown of life.