Bible Question:

My question is this. Can a Christian lose his or her life due to sin? I am referring to a sin that is committed by one's tongue such as using words that were sinful and hurtful. Even though the person genuinely repents and apologizes to the one offended, can a Christian still reap death?

Bible Answer:

True Christians will feel guilt over the sins that they have committed because the Holy Spirit will be convicting them (John 16:8). Why does the Holy Spirit convict Christians of sin? The answer is that God has called them to holy as He is holy.

But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NASB)

What does God do when we do try to be as holy as God? What does He do to a Christian who sins? Our question is “Can Christians die because they sin in their speech?”

Will We Give Account For Our Words?

Judged For Our Words

God has told us that He will judge us for sinful actions (Psalm 28:4; 62:12; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Jeremiah 32:19; Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:12-15), thoughts and motives (Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10) and the words that we speak (Matthew 12:36-37). Matthew 12:36-37 is often overlooked. But we should not overlook it because Jesus warned us that by our words we will be judged and we will be condemned for every careless word we speak.

But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37 (NASB)

Jeremiah 17:10 and Matthew 6:6 should sober every man and woman because they tell us that God sees our every secret act and knows our every thought and the intent of our hearts. That is, we cannot escape being held accountable for every sin — internal and external. Galatians 6:7-8 summarizes the divine principle that we will reap what we sow.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 (NASB)

Therefore, if we sin in our mind by being hateful, angry, greedy, lustful, having a wrong motive or carrying out our sinful desires, God has warned us that we will be held accountable.

Maybe one of the most obvious examples of “whatever a man sows, this he will also reap” when an individual sinned with his mouth occurred when God took the life of King Herod Agrippa because he failed to give God glory when people were praising him as if Herod was a god (Acts 12:21-23).

On an appointed day Herod, having put on his royal apparel, took his seat on the rostrum and began delivering an address to them. The people kept crying out, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” And immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died. Acts 12:21-23 (NASB)

God Is Slow To Anger

Yet, Scripture tells us that God is not quick to cause us to suffer. For example, in Romans 2:3-4 we are told that God is tolerant and patient. He is slow to judge because He is giving us time to repent, before making us suffer.

But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:3-4 (NASB)

There are many examples throughout Scripture where individuals sinned but God did not make them suffer immediately. Abram benefited from God’s patience when commanded he his wife, Sarai, to lie and claim that she was not his wife. Then the pharaoh of Egypt took her to be his wife. Genesis 12:10-20 describes the event. But even though Abram sinned, God did not punish him but warned the pharaoh to not touch her. God was not eager to punish Abram or Sarai for their sin. In stark contrast, God quickly took the lives of Ananias and Sapphira when they lied (Acts 5:1-5). Since God is tolerant and patient, this reveals that this couple may have been habitually sinning with their mouths previously. Finally, God took their lives. Whatever the reason for God’s immediate judgment,  we cannot just assume that we will always escape immediate consequences for our sins.

In Amos 5:14-16 God warned the Israelites to seek good and not evil so that they would live. Then in Amos 7:2-6 we have an example of God withdrawing punishment in response to prayer and repentance. In Nahum 1:3 the character of God is described for us.

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Nahum 1:3 (NASB)

Here we are told that while God is slow to anger, He will not leave those who persist in sin to be unpunished. Psalm 103:8-10; 145:8; Joel 2:13 and Jonah 4:2 teach us that God is slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:8-10 (NASB)

A very significant example of God’s slowness to anger toward sinful behavior is found in His treatment of the inhabitants of Nineveh in the book of Jonah. In that book we are told that God had planned to destroy the people of Nineveh. He wanted the prophet Jonah to warn the people to repent. Jonah 3:1-9 states that the prophet Jonah did warn the people just as God commanded. Then the king issued a decree. Here is the last part of his decree,

“Who knows, God may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.” When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. Jonah 3:9-10 (NASB)

Then Jonah 4:1-2 reveals that God does not punish us for our sins. He gives us an opportunity to repent. Our God is merciful and not eager to punish us for our sins (Psalm 103:8-10 ).

 But it greatly displeased Jonah and he became angry. He prayed to the LORD and said, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity. Jonah 4:1-2 (NASB)

No Condemnation For Christians

But the greatest example of God’s mercy toward our sins occurs when He justifies a person and makes thew individual a Christian. At the moment of saving faith, a person’s sins are forgiven forever, including their future sins (Romans 8:1, 31-39; Hebrews 10:14-18). When a person is justified or declared to be righteous (Romans 5:1-2) he or she is positionally as righteous as Jesus (2 Corinthians 21). That is, all our sins (past, present and future) are forgiven. We are going to heaven because no sin will ever prevent us from going to heaven.

Yet, God will punish Christians for continuing to tolerate sin in their lives and refusing to stop. God wants Christians to pursue holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). If we refuse to cooperate, He may choose to discipline us (Hebrew 12:4-11). 1 John 5:16-17 states that God will take the life of a Christian if they commit a certain sin. We do not know what that sin is because we are not told.

Conclusion:

Therefore, can a Christian die because of some sin? The answer is yes! But as we have discovered God is slow and merciful. He gives us time to repent so that we can escape reaping the consequences of our sin. But if we continue sinning, He will eventually punish us and maybe allow us to physically die.

Suggested Links:

If I do not repent of sin when will God punish me?
How long can a person sin and still be a Christian?
Is someone a Christian if they practice unrepentant sin?
Should Christians follow Christ?
How can I walk closer to my Lord?
God’s Will – Be Filled With The Spirit