Dealing with the Continuous Sin of Wilfully Unrepentant Loved Ones

Renette Vermeulen







Tragically, some believers think, if their loved ones will not choose to follow Jesus, they will drag them to heaven, even if they reject His “love” for them with hypocrisy and by revelling in sin, (Mt. 18:15-20.)  Well, if it were possible to let them reach heaven that way, listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-24 concerning That Day when we must all face Him, “[If they should at last decide to call Me ‘Lord,’ (Mt. 25:1-13,)] I will [then] say to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness, [because you did exactly as you pleased without ever obeying Me.]’ Whoever obeys My [Word;] I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the Rock…” 

It can never please God to attempt to ‘force’ our loved ones into heaven.  He wants “mercy, [obedience to Him and His inward Moral Law,] not sacrifice, [outward church and other manmade obedience, which is two-facedness,]  (Mt. 9:13.)  Jesus called [obedient] sinners to repentance, but continually confronted the self-righteous temple priesthood to repent from manmade ideas and temple formality; clinging to human customs while rejecting the truth of God’s Word to do everything their way.  Eventually, He declared to them, “If God were your Father, you would love [and obey] Me…  [But] you are of your father the devil whose will you [choose to] do...”  (Jn. 8:42-44, 52.) 


Other believers think they only have to pray for their loved ones and never “stick their necks out” to confront their lostness and sin.  The important fact believers must understand, is that disobeying the Moral Law commandments of God in dealing with sin and unrepentant sinners, endanger our own spiritual safety in Christ, (Rom. 1:32; KJV.)  Throughout Scripture, Jesus stated that He will hold us accountable for not preaching His Gospel, warning the unrepentant, etcetera, as the opportunity arises, (Rom. 14:12; Mt. 28:18-20.)  Living a life of so-called ‘passivity’ or actually secret aggression is hiding behind a “good” façade to cover personal disobedience to God.  Thus, keeping quiet about sin when we must speak, is the support of sin.  Such ‘believers’ allow the lost without Christ and unrepentant ‘believers’ to go to hell because they do not “want to cause trouble” or “fight” when they must tell them the truth.  Such false perceptions of “peacefulness and goodness” can only come from the devil.  Those who call themselves ‘believers’ but allegedly hate Scriptural “confrontation,” disobey Jesus’ commission to preach the truth of His Word where possible.  As a result, they are under the judgement of God.  Jesus warned in Ezekiel. 3:18-21, “[If you warn sinners and they do not listen,] their blood will be on them. [But if you do not warn sinners,] their blood I will require from your hand…  If you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul.”  We do not have to pester sinners to repent.  There is a time to preach, warn, etcetera.  After that, we may keep on praying, but cannot take responsibility for their decisions and actions

This is why Paul declared in Acts 20:26, “I am innocent of the blood of you all… I did not neglect to teach the whole counsel of God…”

Thus, tolerating or participating in sin in your home, ‘church,’ or anywhere else, is not Godly “love” or agape for people.  It is selfishness, fear of man or idolatry, disobedience to God, and hatred for the lost to see them perish without trying to help them.  Because hatred is emotional and spiritual murder, such lukewarm believers too, will not go to heaven, (1 Jn. 3:15.)  “He who overcomes shall inherit all things.  But the cowardly, unbelieving… murderers, idolaters, and all liars shall [be...] in the lake of fire…” (Rev. 21:7-8.)  Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Do not be deceived, [false teachers and lukewarm believers are] bad company [that always] corrupt good morals.”  So, to live ‘passively’ in an unholy atmosphere will bring believers down to everlasting destruction, if they do not stand up to abusers, or do not flee as far as they can.


This does not mean believers may choose to divorce unrepentant or unsaved spouses for just any reason.  Take note that this does not mean believers in Christ may marry unsaved or unrepentant people.  Jesus’ prohibition on divorce “for any reason” also pertains to believers that came to Christ some time after marriage, (1 Cor. 7:10-16.)  On the other hand, the abused may choose to divorce in the case of adultery, as that instantly breaks the God’s holy marriage covenant, (Mt. 19:8-12.)  Furthermore, according to Jesus’ directions on dealing with sinning people in Matthew 18:15-20, there is actually no reason why believers must accept the sin and abuse of unbelieving spouses and other people. 

· Separating ourselves from unbelievers and unrepentant sinners after we have done what God requires of us to lead them to Jesus, means we may distance ourselves if, for instance, we should not choose to divorce unrepentant spouses, but need to bring conviction of sin and protect ourselves at the same time.  However, in all my years working with people, I have not seen a single hardcore drug addict, adulterer, etcetera, repent from sin, except when they truly accepted Jesus.  And also a word of caution here, as many will pretend that they are redeemed and saved but never truly obey and follow Jesus, because to unrepentant people, it is simply a case of, “If I can have my spouse… and the bottle, and the porn, and the drugs, and the (male or female) prostitutes… why should I repent?”

So, hardened sinners must be dealt with in ‘tough love,’ although this places the believer between a rock and a hard place.  E.g., refusing to tolerate unrepentance from sin such as alcohol and drug addiction in a marriage, can lead to divorce, because either the abused believer or the unbelieving spouse might eventually choose this way out, (Mt. 18:15-20.) It is then good to let that person go for the sake of everyone concerned, (1 Cor. 7:15.) However, when they cannot separate or divorce because of complicated circumstances, the situation can become unbearable. The believer cannot accept or tolerate sin, yet has to “live with it” - without sinning, of course.  In the context of God’s Word, such a compromise is impossible, as light and darkness have nothing in common, (2 Cor. 6:15.) 

Sticking with this unbearable choice will place the believer in a constant, multi-tiered battle for personal sanity and spiritual, emotional, and physical safety.  Add to that the believer’s struggle not to become trauma bonded or ‘passive’ aggressive and submit to the manipulation, lies, wiles, and pressure of the unbeliever, and we have a disaster in the making.  Submission to evil will give the abuser the power, as an agent of Satan, to destroy even the eternal life of the believer, if the abused do not take care of themselves, (scroll down on the page.) - Mt. 18:15-20; Rev. 3:11.  



When Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 7, “The unbelieving husband is sanctified [or made holy] by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; else your children would be unclean, but now they are holy,” he was not referring to either the doctrine of ‘sanctification,’ (growing in church ‘holiness,’) or the baby sprinkling as a baptism.  Sadly, baby ‘baptizing’ denominations grabbed Paul’s declaration as Scriptural ‘proof’ that the babies of Christians must be ‘baptized’ to be ‘holy and saved.’ Paul was not speaking about even the Biblical water baptism of true disciples; he took the time to explain the difficulties that arise from marriages between born again believers and unbelievers. (This passage does not mean that believers may marry unbelievers. It pertains to a situation where only one spouse comes to redemption and salvation in Christ after marriage, while the other one remains an unbeliever, 1 Cor. 7:14.)

Here, Paul said that divorce is not the norm for such marriages — apart from adultery, which instantly breaks the marriage covenant.  Paul explained that God creates a holy environment for the sincerely believing spouse in an ‘unequally yoked’ marriage!  The believer must not divorce the unbelieving spouse if the unbeliever is willing to live a Godly life with the believer, not the other way around. Should the believer agree to submit to the sin of the unbeliever, the home would be in chaos and the believer’s salvation would be in danger.

God’s supernatural holiness for unbelieving spouses and the little, young, or teenage children of sincere believers have nothing to do with sacramental (or so-called ‘saving’) church rites.  Similarly, so-called church ‘sanctification’ has nothing to do with the “holiness” of the unbelieving husband or wife, or their children. God’s “holiness” through the saved spouse is not personal salvation for the unsaved spouse and children.  The holy spiritual position of truly born again spouses, which so favourably affects their unsaved spouses and children that they are holy, only covers their children under God’s holiness until the children are able to leave home and make a life for themselves.  Salvation is always a personal matter between the person and God, (Jn. 1:12-13.) Nevertheless, unbelieving teenagers and young adults must, just as the unbelieving spouse, submit to the truth and holiness of Christ in respect to Jesus and the believing spouse.

If unbelieving but holy children of this ‘mixed’ marriage could be water baptized as some churches proclaim, then the holy but unbelieving spouse can also be baptized - which is impossible. No one can ‘stand in the gap’ for another person to be redeemed or saved; not even for their own children.  In Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:4, 18-20,  God declared, “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.  The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.” That is why one may only water baptize self-confessed, true believer-disciples in Christ. 

I say it again: this passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 does not mean that the ‘holy’ spouse or children of believers should be ‘sprinkle-baptized’ - or baptized by immersion, if they are still too young to make a personal choice concerning accepting and following Jesus!


When this study were published on Facebook in three parts, some people misunderstood me concerning 'not tolerating' the sin of unbelieving spouses, as Scripture commands that believers “must not divorce an unbelieving spouse” as long as the unbeliever is willing to live with the believer, and not the other way round, of course. (1 Cor. 7:13-15.) This is not about separating or divorcing from unbelievers about silly things, nagging, or “bringing division in families” by supposedly “being intolerant of their sin.”  We must always withstand sin as far as possible.  Jesus said He Himself will bring division in marriages and families because of His Truth, (Mt. 10:34-36.)  As said, Scripture is clear on the matter that Light and darkness cannot be “unequally yoked.”  Believers who find themselves in such a precarious position, are in imminent spiritual danger. 

I have seen many believers go back to the world on the insistence of unbelieving spouses, because they refuse to withstand the pressure of unrepentant spouses to join the sinful world again; not wanting to ‘spoil the fun in the home,’ or thinking “they are holier than thou…”  Under such strain, believers, who did not “count the cost” to follow Jesus, fall prey to the devil that work through their misplaced loyalties and love for their spouses, children, and other family members. God commanded believes to, “if possible, as far as depends on you, live in peace with all people,” but this is certainly not always possible, because of the bad choices of unrepentant people, (Rom. 12:18.)

To bring God’s true Word to people is to bring His Peace and Highest ‘love’ or agape to them.  This is always necessary, but it does not mean we may bow to their sin in the process.  It is a stern, Scriptural principle that when people unrepentantly reject Jesus and the Truth of His Word, we must ‘shake the dust from our feet’ and leave them to their choices, (Mt. 10:14; 18:15-20.)

The reality of bringing the Gospel to unbelievers, is that we should not speak to the unbelieving world about repentance from sin without first declaring the Gospel of redemption, salvation, and blessing to them, (Gal. 3:10-14.)  Should they refuse Jesus, so-called ‘repentance’ from sin will only be a pretence of ‘goodness.’  We must never loose sight of the fact that clinging to decidedly unrepentant people and hypocritical believers severely affect our own lives in Christ. Thus, in context, 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 actually forbid believers “to live” with the unbeliever, (meaning, allowing unrepentant sin, if that means they will, as a result, follow the lifestyle of unbelievers,) because Jesus commanded in Mt. 10:37, “If you love father, mother, [spouse, brother, sister, children…] more than Me, you are not worthy to be My disciple…”  We must not confuse humanism and so-called “passivity,” or actually secret aggression in the face of sin and abuse, with Godly ‘love’ — which is God’s Truth and Scriptural obedience to Him according to the precepts of His inward Moral Law, and not mere feelings, (Jn. 13:34.)

The first and most important commandment of God’s Moral Law of Love is this, “Love the Lord your God, [Who Is Truth Himself,] with all your heart, soul [or mind] and strength, and your neighbour AS yourself,” (Mt. 22:37.) To love God is to hate all sin — our own sin included. 

Therefore, we must always ‘love’ sinners (and ourselves) enough to tell them the truth about all things, confront sin as Jesus commanded, (Mt. 18:15-20,) and pray the conviction and help of the Holy Spirit under all circumstances.  This is how we “withstand” the wiles or schemes and deception of the devil by standing in the whole ‘armor’ of God.  His armor is not a quick-dress ritual, but steadfastly withstanding all evil in complete Holy-Spirit integrity and the entire truth of God’s Word.  When it comes to choosing between standing for Jesus or pacifying people, we must remember His warning in James 4:4, “Friendship with the world is enmity with God [and with yourself...]”   


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PART 5, The body of Christ Converted to Christianity



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