What happens to a Christian who dies in sin?

A young man meets an attractive girl. He asks her out but before she will go on a date with him he must attend church with her. He agrees and the next Sunday morning is seated next to her in church. He hears the gospel, believes and is saved. He is crazy about her, but after a couple dates she spurns any further advances from him. Filled with rage and disappointment he kills her and then takes his own life. Does he go to heaven?

A young man professed salvation at church youth group. One night a couple years later he prepares to go party with his friends. On the way out the door, he tells his parents he is going to the library. On the way to the party he is hit by a drunk driver and killed. Does he go to heaven?

The drunk driver had spent most of his adult life battling alcoholism. After his fourth DUI he entered rehab, sobered up and began attending church. Several months later he walked down the aisle and asked Jesus to be His Savior. One day he learns he has cancer and is given a few months left to live. In despair he leaves the doctor’s office to go to his favorite bar. Hours later he staggers out of bar, gets in his car and on his way home careens into the oncoming lane. He kills a teenager and is killed in the crash. Does he go to heaven?

The same question could be posed in many different ways and with many different scenarios. The real question revolves around passages like Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

What happens when a person who professes Christ dies in sin? Whether it be murder, drunkenness, adultery, lying or theft the Bible says that none who do those things can enter heaven. If a professing believer commits one of those sins and dies before confessing his sin, is he forgiven? Does he go to heaven?

The genuineness of someone’s salvation cannot be determined with absolute certainty by others. God knows those who are His. Those who are His are to depart from sin, but no one, Christian or otherwise, is without sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) The authenticity of someone’s salvation is not measured by a complete absence of sin. Neither is salvation dependent on the person’s ability to not sin.

Those who have been saved are transferred out of the bondage of sin and are now the children of God. The Bible describes two categories of people. Those who are dead in sin and those who are alive in Christ. (Ephesians 2) At salvation the one who was dead in sin is made alive with Christ by the active working of God’s grace. Life in Christ is always and only by the grace of God received through faith.

No part of salvation is dependent on the deeds of men. Salvation is entirely the grace of God. If it can be won or lost based upon something a person does, it is of works. “If it be of works, then it is no more grace.” (Romans 11:6) God’s grace saves and saves completely. “He is able to save them to the uttermost that cometh unto God by Him.” This is one of the most crucial doctrines of the Bible.

If salvation is achieved by any thing the person does, then Jesus died needlessly. (Galatians 2:21) If you can do something, anything, to be saved, then you do not need a Savior.

If a person is truly saved, then he cannot die in sin. He may commit murder, but he is not counted by God as a murderer. He may lie, but he is not counted by God as a liar. When a person is saved he is declared righteous by God. The righteousness of the Christian is the righteousness of Jesus transfered onto the believer. No sin can ever mar or remove the righteousness of Christ.

“All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” and all those who believe have been made righteous by the free grace of God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:22-24) Nothing the Christian does or fails to do will ever remove the grace of God and the righteousness of Jesus. If the murderer, liar or drunkard is truly saved then yes, he is in heaven.

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