Monthly Q&A: August 2022
Q: The Bible says the drunkards and by extension drug users will not enter heaven. But what about those who are not again Christian and say are given string pain killers by a doctor…which they get addicted too and cannot get off. What about those born again Christian will they enter heaven ? Can a born again Christian fall into drug addiction ,….if so are they doomed for hell ? As the Bible says they will not enter heaven.
A: It’s important to distinguish behavior from lifestyle in these situations. When the Bible speaks of things like drunkenness, sexual immorality, greed, slander, etc. the terms “practice” or “walk” are often used (Galatians 5:21; Romans 13:13). These two verses are of particular help/interest:
“The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; hatred, discord, jealousy, and rage; rivalries, divisions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Greek word Paul uses is “presso” which indicates a habitual practice. It is different than the Greek term “poieo” which is used to indicate less repetitive, singular acts. In other words, those who make a habitual, unrepentant practice of these things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
Romans 13:13 says:
“Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality an debauchery, not in dissension and jealous.”
The Greek word Paul uses is “peripateo” which indicates a pattern of living or characteristic of one’s life.
We the same idea in 1 John 1:6 when John says that those who walk (peripateo) in the darkness do not practice in the truth. The New Living Translation captures the idea best when it says “…if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness….” In both of these instances, what is being addressed in a habitual, unrepentant life style.
Now, how what does that have to do with your initial question? The distinction between behavior and a settled pattern of life is important. Christians can and do fall into sin (1 John 1:8). Sometimes this period of sin can be short or long, only God knows. However, those who are truly born-again do not make peace with that sin. They fight it. That doesn’t mean they always win but their life is characterized by fighting against sin. As Proverbs 24:16 says, “Though a righteous man fall seven times, he will rise again….” That doesn’t mean that on the eight time, he doesn’t get back up. It means that those who are righteous will get back up each and every time they fall; they won’t stay down. They will fight!
That is different from those whose lives are characterized by lying, stealing, cheating, drunkenness, etc. Those actions are characteristic of who they are at their very core. They don’t fight against those sins in their life; they practice them habitually and unrepentantly.
In those verses that speak to these actions not inheriting the Kingdom of God, the writer seems to be referring those latter individuals; the individuals whose lives are characterized by patterns of sin and no interest or desire to fight against them.
Can someone be “born-again” yet wrestle with addiction? I believe the answer is yes; the flesh is so very weak. However, the key word here is “wrestle.” Born-again Christians will wrestle against addictions and other sins. They won’t make excuses for sin. They continuously bring them to Jesus in confession. They will continue to seek help for their addiction. They will not give up. They may wrestle long and hard. They may win some days and lose some days, but they never stop fighting. This is entirely different from those who just see addiction as part of who they are and just give in. Those individuals give evidence that their heart has not been changed and that they are not “born-again.” Those are the individuals who will not inherit the Kingdom of God unless they repent and turn to Jesus.