Can a Christian be Separated from the Lord?

It’s Monday Grace!

Many preachers don’t know what to do about believers who do sinful things. The congregation is filled with the already evangelized, those who call themselves Christians. Yet, they sin—and the preacher thinks it is his job to get them to stop.

The easiest answer is to be in a tradition that says a believer can lose his salvation. If you sin, you either have lost or are in danger of losing your place in Heaven, they say. That’s a heavy incentive to hold over the heads of the people.

But there are those who stop short of that. They hint and suggest that somehow the believer becomes “out of fellowship” with God because of sin. You will even hear preachers who say they believe the message of grace say things like that. I recently read a note from a “grace teacher” who claimed that the believer becomes estranged from God until the sin is confessed. The problem is that no one quite knows how that fits with the rest of the grace message.

You and I were dead in sin without God. When we were “yet sinners,” we were “enemies of God.” Then we were truly estranged from Him. Heaven was not our home, and we were not saved.

But that was then, and this is now.

Now, Jesus is our life. When we came to Him for salvation (no matter how that happened), we died on His cross and rose in His resurrection. (Col 2:12) Now the life in us, the only life, is Jesus.

The only life. There is no longer—and never can be—us apart from Jesus. We can suggest that idea as a philosophical construct but not as a reality. We cannot be separated from Him. That’s why Paul is so strong in his statement at the end of Romans 8. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Why? Because we are intimately, fundamentally, inseparably, and eternally connected with Him. He is our life.

But, of course, a believer can act like he is separated from Jesus. He can think like he is separated from God. He can do things that are grossly inconsistent with the life in him. Any believer can act according to the patterns of the flesh within him. Others may look at this believer and conclude that he has nothing to do with the Lord.

I believe it is inappropriate and unhelpful to suggest that a believer can become separated from the Lord because of sin. Some believers go to the altar over and over to confess and recommit—and try to become saved again. They don’t experience the victory over sin because their spiritual walk is so focused on it.

So, how does a preacher help people stop sinning? Next week…


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3 responses to “Can a Christian be Separated from the Lord?

  1. A

    What would you say about trying to get a covert narcissistic abusive (emotional, spiritual, financial and physical)PASTOR husband to recognize his sin because he has strayed far from the Lord…with a girlfriend for 2 years now and no empathy as for me as I am in hospital in paliative care dying of cancer…My children are is God. My husband told me I HAD to let him go…continually trying to control…..He uses God’s grace and demands that like God, I should throw his sin into the deepest sea and forget about them instead of him going for christian psych counselling. Is he using God’s grace as cheap? I continue to forgive him and continue to pray for him…married45 years. I take my vows seriously encouaging him in to ask the holy spirit to help. .

    • I am so sorry you have to go through this! Sadly, I have heard several stories now about pastors (besides others who consider themselves believers) who have abused or abandoned their spouses. Frankly, I would say that they should be treated as unbelievers. Since he is acting as though the love and grace of God have no real/practical effect in his life, we should probably say that he does not know the reality of the Lord. Some people are very good at playing the game for a long time. I know believers can wander and give in to the flesh in some disgusting ways, but this seems far beyond normal. It may be better to expect only what you would expect from an unbeliever.

      But you are not alone. The promise is still yours. The presence of the Lord is still yours. He still loves you.

      Yes, you have suffered loss. I can barely imagine how that must hurt. You have been deceived and betrayed. Your feelings are real and valid. And the Lord knows your pain. He is there in the midst of it.

      Now you have to give it over to the Lord. Don’t look to your husband for support any longer. Don’t allow yourself that constant disappointment. Instead, look to the Lord and believe His promise. Accept the love of your children and your friends and others. Let the Lord minister to your heart in this challenging time.

      I wish there could be some special prayer that would bring your husband around. You know that God will deal with him in the right way. If he belongs to Jesus, then God will discipline him or challenge him to return. If not, if it was all a sham, then God is still calling to him. Pray, you can always pray, but don’t let yourself trust or depend on your husband. Trust Jesus.

  2. Steve Tompkins

    Amen! Great insight and encouragement! Thx!

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