If a man believes in Jesus Christ with all his heart but he still fornicates, steals, defraud people and murders people, will he still go to heaven because he believed in Jesus Christ? If a man does not believe in Jesus Christ and does not fornicate, steal, tell lies and defraud people will he go to heaven or will he go to hell?
John 3:16 is a promise that says anyone who believes in Jesus Christ will not perish , that is not go to hell, and will have eternal life, that is, will go to heaven. Christians refer to someone who truly believes in Christ as being saved or obtaining salvation. The question this article is concerned with is, “Can someone go to heaven if he or she continues sinning after believing in Christ?” The question could also be asked this way, “Will someone go to heaven if, after some time has elapsed, there is no change in his or her behavior and they continue sinning as they did before believing in Christ? It is important to understand that a Christian will still sin while they live in this life (1 John 1:9). They will never obtain perfection or live without ever sinning, but they will sin less and less.
Definition of Faith
The first question that must be asked is, “What does it mean to believe in Christ?” This is important since 1 Corinthians 15:2 teaches us that there are two types of belief or faith: true faith and false faith. In this passage, false faith is referred to as “believed in vain.”
. . . by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:2 (NASB)
What is vain faith? It refers to any faith that falls short of true faith. Someone who only believes facts about Christ with repentance and surrendering one’s life to Christ has vain faith. Someone who pretends to believe or says, “I believe in Christ” without meaning it demonstrates vain faith. Vain faith is empty or meaningless “faith.”
In sharp contrast, the person who recognizes they are a sinner understands that God says they deserve spiritual death or to spend eternity in hell. Notice the following verse refers to spiritual as death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NASB)
The next verse reveals that those who are saved are rescued from ‘the fire” or hell. To be saved is the result of a person’s true faith.
. . . save others, snatching them out of the fire . . . Jude 23 (NASB)
Therefore, someone who understands that they are going to hell, finally understands that only Christ can save them from hell, and then responds with humility by 1) repenting of his or her sins, asking God to forgive their sins and 3) is willing to submits to God displays true faith.
At the moment of true faith, the individual is legally declared to be as righteous as God for all time (Romans 5:1). The Holy Spirit places the individual into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), seals the individual (Ephesians 1:13) and begins living inside the individual (Romans 8:9, 11; Galatians 5:25). At this point God beings to transform his or her life (Philippians 1:6; 2:12-13). If someone has false faith, these changes will not happen in their life and it will become obvious the person never truly believed in Christ.
Signs of True Faith
Scripture tells us that character, attitude and behavioral changes will occur in one who truly believes in Christ. One of the major changes that must occur in someone who truly believes is that they will sin less and less. Notice in the following verse that it says if a person is putting to death the deeds of the body, that person is led by the Spirit. He or she is a son of God – a true believer. That is, it is the Holy Spirit will be changing the person.
. . . for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:13-14 (NASB)
Therefore, someone who continues sinning as they did before “they believed in Christ” or starts sinning more reveals they never truly believed in Christ.
Every person who thinks they are a Christian and yet has excuses for his or her disobedience needs to read Matthew 7:21-23. In this passage Jesus says that some religious people will not go to heaven.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB)
On judgment day some religious people will go to hell, because they never truly believed in Christ and their behavior will be the proof.
Therefore, if a man claims that he has believed in Jesus Christ but over a period of time is still committing sexual sins, stealing, defrauding people, etc, has deceived himself and others. The person never truly believed in Christ. He is not going to heaven. A man or woman’s behavior will be the proof he or she truly believed in Christ.
Other signs that a person truly believes in Christ is that he or she will grow in his or her knowledge of the Bible (Hebrews 5:11-15; 1 John 2:14), because they will want to know the Bible (1 Peter 2:2). The fruit of the Spirit will be growing in their lives. (Galatians 5:22-23).
Jeremiah 17:9 says that our hearts are very deceitful and sick. We have a hard time understanding ourselves.
The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
Therefore, one must be very honest with oneself about one’s sins and eternity. God desires to rescue us from our sins. Salvation from sin and an eternity in heaven comes only by placing one’s faith in Christ. It is not based on good works. No one can live such a good life that they deserve heaven. (Acts 4:10-12; Isaiah 64:6) The prophet Isaiah said all our good deeds are as filthy rags. Acts 4 tells us that there is salvation in no one else but Jesus Christ. Titus 3:5 says “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 (NASB)
True faith is all that God requires. Do you have true faith or vain faith?
Suggested Links:Searching For God
What is Lordship salvation? What does the Bible teach?
How do you receive Christ? What does John 1:12 mean?
Should Christians follow Christ?
Should Christians follow Christ to become like Him?
Does John 3:16 promise assurance of salvation to every Christian?
Must a person repent in order to go to heaven?
What is the meaning of the word repent or repentance in the Bible?
Am I still a Christian if I continue sinning?
What must a person do to go to heaven when they die?