Question:

Hi,

I am a member of the Lord's church having had my sins washed away, and I also actively evangelize. I read the topic below and have been studying this and have a few scenarios.

If a person is in an unscriptural marriage, must the person divorce before becoming a Christian?

My questions, based on your answer above, are the following. Provide a scriptural example when possible.

If the teacher or preacher never covers the topic of remarriage and unscriptural marriage in detail via Bible lessons or sermons and the sinner was sincerely not aware at time of their baptism that their legal marriage was unscriptural and that their bedroom relations were sinful; therefore, having no sin conscience on this subject when they repented of sinning and had turned to God sincerely, is their baptism valid at the time they obeyed?

Note - I personally recognize they would need to come to a knowledge of their marriage situation and decide what to do with a clear conscience before God and their own desire for eternal salvation. I don't believe God makes sinful acts holy via baptism; however, we don't always know all the details or how much sins are in the lives of others.

Next, if an unrepented sinner, prior to baptism agrees that their marriage is unscriptural based on their studies before being baptized but want to be baptized immediately and sincerely promises to fix the situation by remaining abstinent and will begin the process of separating from that marriage after baptism, can they even be baptized immediately? If they are allowed to baptize and they do not follow through in the future would they need to be rebaptized? Also, can we plug any other sin they are working through mentally or physically, including drug use, alcoholism, or other repeated sins they are trying to get out of?

Next, the unrepented sinner sincerely disagrees with the unscriptural marriage concept after an initial study and believes their marriage is valid. (It should be noted that the brotherhood is not unified on this.) But they are truly sincere that if they come to a different conclusion in the future they would dissolve their marriage to save their soul and may need to even revisit their initial baptism if their conscience is effected at that time of that discovery. Can they repent and be baptized immediately upon their desire to turn God, putting away all known sins and willing to put away future known sins?

Simply put: Should we as humans and repented sinners who still sin ourselves ever restrict the baptism of a sinner who may not be 100% aware of all sins but has a willing heart to obey and willing to correct all as they become aware of?

Or can we ever refuse to baptize a sinner immediately who commits to fix all known or future known sins or someone in situations that they know leads to sin but just simply need more time to put affairs in order but are willing to avoid all sin and continuing sin to protect their salvation?

Thanks.

Answer:

You made your question needlessly complex and because of that, you are obscuring the clear answer.

Sin is not acceptable just because a person is unaware of the law. Even under the Old Law, we find: "Now if a person sins and does any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, though he was unaware, still he is guilty and shall bear his punishment. He is then to bring to the priest a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his error in which he sinned unintentionally and did not know it, and it will be forgiven him. It is a guilt offering; he was certainly guilty before the LORD" (Leviticus 5:17-19). A person remains guilty of sin until he dealt with the matter in accordance with God's law.

Second, a claim of sincere intentions to later change doesn't make the guilt of sin go away. There are many sincere people in the denominational world who are sincerely wrong. Paul was once like these people. "Though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:4-6). Yet, Paul was wrong despite all his zeal and sincerity. While he remained a Jew, Paul was not saved. "Brethren, my heart's desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:1-3). What it boils down to is that we cannot create our own religion and our own religious rules, no matter how sincerely we go about it.

Yes, I'm sure that you can find people who disagree about any item that God has taught. However, God's laws still remain. It does not require agreement with God to accountable. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome" (I John 5:3). A lack of obedience means the person does not truly love God.

Therefore, you study with a person and he sincerely disagrees that he is in sin. It doesn't matter if he mostly agrees with the teachings of the Bible. His stubbornness means that he still needs to work on his love of God. Rushing him to baptism and giving him a false sense of security is not going to make him right with God. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all" (James 2:10).

If you study with a person, he understands that he is wrong in theory but he hasn't given up his sin, then he has not repented. "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). Arguing that repentance can come later is to argue that repentance is not necessary for salvation. "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). Repentance does not mean that a person will never fall back into sin, but there must be a change in both attitude and behavior that shows that no excuse for sin is allowed in the person's life. "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother" (I John 3:9-10).

If you study with a person but are unaware of sin the person is involved in committing and the person is unaware that it is a sin, then once he becomes aware, he must make immediate changes in his life because a child of God cannot tolerate sin. Whether God gives mercy to someone unaware of sin in his life is up to the Judge of All. We, as fellow defendants, cannot dictate to God who He must give mercy to. We all pray that God will be merciful because we know we are inadequate. Thus, we teach that sin must be dealt with because this is what our Lord commands.

Worse would be someone who is aware that a person is in sin but decides to not mention it, thinking that it can be handled later after a person becomes a Christian. Such a teacher's own soul is in jeopardy because he did not give the warning. "But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman's hand" (Ezekiel 33:6).

What it comes down to is that all of God's laws are required for salvation. We can't pick a few and say that is good enough. See What Saves a Person?

 

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