Dear Esther :: January 25, 2016

Dear Esther,

I have been an avid Rapture Ready reader for years, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading your column over the last several months. I feel like the advice you offer is genuinely loving and always biblically sound. I have wanted to write you for some time about this, but honestly I am afraid of the answer I might get.

However, I feel a real urge to write now, regardless of whether the answer hurts me or not. I’d rather know now than find out later when Jesus calls His Church home and I am left behind.

First, let me be plain: I am a backslidden Christian. I was saved beyond any doubt in 2003 and no one will ever be able to convince me otherwise, so sure am I of it. My whole life changed and I had a personal and loving relationship with Jesus.

Yet as the years passed, my fire faded and gradually I fell back into my old ways. I still love Jesus, I still believe that He suffered horribly on that cross for me and rose again three days later to defeat the death that was rightfully coming for me.

I know that the Bible says that once we are saved, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and no one, not even ourselves, will ever be able to take that away. I also know that Jesus said nothing, NOTHING can ever snatch us from His hands. But with the end times looming so large and imminently, I worry! Here’s my situation Esther, and I hope you can give me some good, solid answers to guide me.

In December of 2014, my long-time boyfriend moved in with me. We have sex, of course, and we are not married. We have plans to marry as soon as finances allow, we honestly do, but we are not married yet. And I know that is blatantly disobedient to God.

I know it grieves the Holy Spirit within me because I feel such guilt about it and am reminded almost daily that God forbids this lifestyle. My boyfriend works away from home, usually for months at a time, and when he is able, he comes home on weekends, occasionally. And I find myself praying for forgiveness again and again.

I do have Christian affiliations: my parents, (my boyfriend), my sister, a coworker, and also my best friend. The problem is that both my sister and my best friend (whose life truly is blessed) both live with their boyfriends, too. My sister is engaged, but my best friend is not and has no plans to marry; she feels that a piece of paper makes no difference and in fact only changes a relationship for the worse.

She says that while she does feel guilt about it like I do, she has no doubt that God loves her and will not damn either of us for this. I cling to her words because she is so much further in her walk with Christ than I am and this is truly the only “un-Christian” thing I’ve ever seen her do. I also cling to that verse that says we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and that it marks us as His.

Truly, Jesus meaning what He says, is the only hope I have.

Will I go to hell for my disobedience? The Bible says the only unforgivable sin is to blaspheme the Holy Spirit, and I definitely am not doing that. But it scares me enough that I have to ask.

I know that my intentional and repeated disobedience will be dealt with when I stand before God, and the thought sends chills down my spine…but I’d rather face that than an eternity in hell for doing what is so common, even “normal” for the world I live in.

Yet here again, I hear the Holy Spirit telling me I am not of this world and I should not conform to it. I am so frustrated Esther!!! Please help me. Am I going to hell? Have I lost my salvation? Will God truly not forgive me for this?

Sincerely,

Linda (Torn to Pieces)

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Dear Linda,

I am so sorry for your pain. You have gotten yourself into a very tough situation. Sweetheart, it is going to be okay, but you will have to go through some changes. Sometimes it takes getting into a backslidden state to really begin to start walking with the Lord. I am glad you reached out.

Jesus does love you very much and He will forgive you, but you must be sincere in your repentance. We can “believe” in Him but He also asks us to show our love for Him (Matthew 22:37). Even the devil and his demons “believe” in Him and “tremble” (James 2:19). We cannot continue to blatantly and habitually sin against God knowing full-well that we are going against His Word. You already know this, otherwise you would not be hurting so badly.

Your eternal fate can only be answered by God; but by our fruits, how were serve the Lord and live our lives—our salvation is declared. If little has changed in how we live our lives since we made a profession of faith, then we must examine our lives whether we are truly in the faith. I strongly recommend reading and studying the book of James.

We can say we love the Lord and believe in His historical record, but unless we are changed with evidence of the renewing of our minds, I would say our salvation is in question.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 John 2:19).

Remember we are NEW creations in Christ when we are born from above.

If you are saved, then you will not be able to continue living so far outside God’s principles. A day of reckoning will come. And it will all be for the better.

So let’s begin with you and your boyfriend. Apparently you have been together for a long time. You say you are both Christians. Yes, it is very common for unmarried couples to live together these days and it is doing nothing good for our moral climate.

As Christians we are to set an example to others. From what you have said, you already know what you are doing is wrong. You wrote: “Yet here again, I hear the Holy Spirit telling me I am not of this world and I should not conform to it.”

There you are. You know you should not be living as those in the world. It sounds like you and your boyfriend both need to seriously come to terms with this situation. I have said it before, many times in my letters, God is not mocked.

I have never understood the argument when people say they are living together until “finances allow.” This is a weak excuse to live in an ungodly manner and not make a commitment before God. Considering that you and your boyfriend already live together (although not every day) there is a solution.

If you truly love each other and can come to terms together about placing the Lord first in your lives, then there is an answer to your living together situation, called: Eloping. Find a good pastor and get married in a church. 🙂

It won’t cost much and you can have a big party later to celebrate for the sake of family and friends. It could be a great and fun celebration. But first and foremost you must make peace with the Lord. Unless you both repent (turn away from) your sin you will remain in anguish, not able to enjoy the relationship and not able to truly fellowship with the Lord.

“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

“Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2).

You mention that your parents are Christians. I would hope that they would rather see you married than living out of wedlock, even if it means eloping or having a very small intimate family wedding without a lot of pomp and circumstance (to keep the cost down). Be sure you have a Christian wedding and not a secular one.

If you and your boyfriend do not want to take marriage vows, then live apart and stop having sex. That would be the way to honor the Lord until you do make a marriage commitment.

“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

As far as gaining entry into heaven through the Rapture or death, the way we all know for certain our profession of faith is real is by the way we liveand by trusting in Jesus alone as the Savior of mankind. The key to knowing whether or not you will be spend eternity with Jesus is by having full assurance of your salvation.

If we thirst for God, seeking His face every day through prayer, reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture, we have assurance. If we long to fellowship with the brethren and seek out fellowship as often as possible, we have assurance.

If we love to share the gospel and do so as the Holy Spirit leads, we have assurance. If we are living the life of a disciple we have assurance. If we have been discipled and are discipling others we have assurance. If we live a holy life on a daily basis without taking days off to get involved in the world and its godless ways, we have assurance.

If we do few or none of these things on a daily or regular basis we do not have assurance. If we are not living a holy life immersed in prayer, the Word, fellowship and sharing the gospel we do not have assurance. I urge you to get the assurance of salvation by repenting and not looking back. This does not mean that we all don’t fall and sin on occasion. We are saved by grace alone through faith, but faith without works is dead:

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:14-26).

Remember the grave warnings that Jesus gave us:

“Strive to enter in by the narrow door: for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24).

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Not everyone who claims to be saved, who claims to be a Christian, who claims to live a holy life is saved. Many are not saved.

[Jesus said,] “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad isthe way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult <i<is< i=””>the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Come judgment day there will be millions who will realize their church membership and religious involvements did not save them. They never had a personal relationship with Jesus and never fellowshipped with Him. Their faith was all about religion and not Jesus.

Judas was a disciple who looked like he was a very dedicated follower of Christ. He was entrusted with the money bag and sat with Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13.26). He also cast out demons, raised the dead and healed people when the twelve were sent out (Matthew 10:1, 7-8).

Yet he betrayed Jesus for money and later hung himself (Matthew 27:3-5). He was one of the most prominent of the group, but evidently did not believe Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God (Matthew 16:13, 20). He was one of millions throughout the Church Age who departed from the faith for he never had true faith (1 John 2:19).

Please examine whether you are truly in the faith. If you are one hundred percent certain that you are truly born from above you will live for your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Too many professing believers have a vague idea of what it means to live for Jesus. Many professing Christians are not saved and simply manage to fit Jesus into their lives when it’s convenient.

“For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).

Are you being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ? Has there been a noticeable change in your likes and dislikes since you trusted Jesus to save you?

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your spiritual service. And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

Everyone who is truly born from above will change his or her way of life. You will make a conscious effort to stop doing certain things and start doing things you did not do previously. Your thought life will also change. To determine whether something is good (honoring to God) ask yourself if Jesus would join you in whatever you are involved in.

When we are obviously and consistently living against the Lord’s principles, we must make a willful decision to change, otherwise we are kidding ourselves and playing a dangerous game with our eternal destiny.

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

If you are not on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ something is not right. He suffered terrible pain, agony and torture for you to save you from eternal punishment in the lake of fire. He also offers you eternal life with Him in heaven and untold riches, which no one deserves or has earned. What are you waiting for? If you think you are truly born-again and saved then it is time to start living like it. I say this out of love, not to hurt you.

Would your boyfriend take severe torturous beatings and hang on a cross for you? Would he do what Jesus did for you? Is he more important to you than Jesus? These are questions to ask yourself and answer, honestly.

As far as your sister and your best friend, they too, need to examine whether they are truly in the faith. You wrote: “She (your sister) says that while she does feel guilt about it like I do, she has no doubt that God loves her and will not damn either of us for this.”

My dear Linda, she is missing the point. The Christian life is not about how much we can get away with. It is about living for Christ, bringing others to Christ by our example and testimony, and pleasing Him as much as possible. I would not consider a person with this attitude a mature Christian, so please look to your Bible for counsel, not a sister who is also backslidden and weak in her commitment of “faith.”

A person can say a heartfelt prayer, live a holy life, fall away and come back and be genuinely saved. Yet if one falls away, and does not have a real desire to come back and truly repent, that is strong evidence he or she was never truly saved. So-called “Christians” who live the same way as those who reject Christ, are fooling themselves.

“And He [Jesus] said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:20-23).

We must come out of our flesh and let the Holy Spirit take over. Once we do that, it becomes very hard to live a godless life and participate in the ways of the world. Dying to self is never described in the Bible as a random choice in the Christian’s life. It is evidence of the new birth; no one can truly come to Christ unless they are willing to see their old lives crucified with Christ and begin to surrender in obedience to Him.

And as far as your best friend who is so blessed, that may be so, but that does not mean that she has God’s stamp of approval for living a life of fornication. Many in the world are “blessed.” And are those blessings always from God? I would not say that they are. Many people have sold out for, worldly “success,” and a life of self-gratification. The Bible is very clear about not serving two masters:

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:19-24a).

A piece of paper does not make a marriage, but standing before God and some witnesses taking marriage vows in all sincerity does make a marriage commitment and that is where your friend is kidding herself. She sounds like she is parroting the ways of the world.

A true Christian marriage is a wonderful union, and when two people serve the Lord together their lives only get better (holy matrimony). I would not listen to her opinions since she is clearly living outside the Lord’s teachings and has convinced herself that what she is doing is of no consequence to her eternal future.

Jesus spoke of lukewarm followers who try to live partly in the old life and partly in the new. Those are the ones He will spit out (Revelation 3:15-16). Such lukewarm followers were prevalent in the church of Laodicea, as well as many churches today. Being “lukewarm” is a symptom of unwillingness to die to self and live for Christ.

Linda, I will leave you with some Scripture below (after my sign-off), for you to carefully ponder. I pray this will be a turning point in your life when you will no longer accept compromise and that you will place our precious Savior first in your life. He loves you so very much.

I expect you will be a great role model for your fallen sister and best friend. Let them emulate your new willingness to surrender your life to Christ and leave behind the old self. And if your boyfriend has excuses why he cannot fully commit to God and to you, rest assured that there is a godly man out there somewhere that would love to have a godly wife.

Trust the Lord with all your heart and get away from those who are pulling you away from the Lord. Pray for them and love them but don’t be a part of their spiritually compromised lifestyles. The Lord will bring the right friends into your life with whom you can truly serve the Lord.

The apostle Paul wrote:

“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing as you make some very significant decisions and changes in your life. You already know you need to make some life-altering changes. I believe you reached out to get that confirmation and support. You have my support and I am here for as you go forward. Don’t hesitate to write anytime.

In God’s love,

Esther

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

“But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which inthe likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:20-24).

“Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2).

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).