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As far as I have understood, God can forgive all sins (Romans 5:8, 1 John 1:9), least blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28-29), and that we are not to judge (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37, John 7:24) , God is the only one (James 4:12) and that we shall forgive (Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-22), however, we shall exhort us (Galatians 6:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrew 10:25), not to point to each others as sinners (we all are; Romans 9-26), but in love (Romans 12:8). As a sinner we shall live in repentance, say "I made a mistake and will (try to) not make this mistake again" (Matthew 3:8).

However, sins are often times discussed as a terminal action (e. g. a lie) and even if repetitive as an ongoing sin (e. g. notorious lying). But what about a continuous sin, a sin one cannot come out as easy as one might wish to (an illicit marriage)?

I will rephrase my question (from here: soteriology - How can a person in this situation be forgiven his sins? - Christianity Stack Exchange) in more general terms. My question is twofold.

a) How to position oneself, a practicing Christian, towards a person as described below in your live (family member)? b) What can a person in the described position do to be saved, do go the right path, Gods path?

I believe to not have found an answer to both questions directly.

Imagine a self-identified Christian (evangelical) who married his first woman in civil union and in church, has two children who he not educated the faith, and who he abandoned after being unfaithful to his first wife several times. He was divorced by his first woman on civil terms, however, he was not reputed for his sins to a church member (or at all). Hence, divorced by law, not by the terms of the bible (Matthew 5:31-32).

He then married in civil union only a second wife, which he divorced without children.

Lastly, he married for a third time in civil union and in church (for a second time), with which he had fathered a baby now.

To my understanding of the scripture, he was never repented by his first wife of unfaithfulness (Matthew 19:9), meaning that he would still married by church to his first wife (Mark 10:8-9), meaning all his following marriages are illicit.

Now, the problem: how does he (if he wanted to) come out of this situation or his he doomed to continue sinning?

Let me rephrase: to most Christians, an homosexual marriage or union would not be considered licit by the bible (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) and he homosexual person living in an union like this who would say that he did wrong marrying a same-sex person was wrong, continuing living so, would not be believed. Why then a man who continues to live in an illicit marriage to a woman?

I pray and prayed for this person especially for Hebrew 3:13 and Hebrew 6:4-6, but do not how to position myself. Play along? Exhorting?

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    Like any library, Christianity Stack Exchange offers great information, but does not offer personalized advice, and does not take the place of seeking such advice from your pastor, priest, or other trustworthy counselor.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 6 at 11:21
  • Welcome to Christianity.SE! and thank you for your contribution. When you get a chance, please take the tour to understand how the site works and how it is different than others. I would also recommend reading the Help Center's sections on asking and answering questions.
    – agarza
    Apr 6 at 14:30
  • I don't know from Catholic view but from the biblical interpretation, it has been demonstrated countless times that Jesus never banned divorce but only illegitimate illegal divorces. See hermeneutics.stackexchange.com
    – Michael16
    Apr 10 at 4:45
  • @Michael16 Jesus never condoned divorce, either, and he explicitly prohibited remarriage after divorce.
    – Conrado
    May 13 at 16:58

3 Answers 3

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All of our sins today (past, present, and future) were forgiven when Jesus Christ shed His blood for the world on the cross...including "continuous sinning".

Paul speaking below to all who will believe today:

2 Corinthians 5:19

To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Romans 5:8

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:20

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

1 Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

It is faith in Christ's shed blood being the forgiveness of our sins that is required to receive the eternal gift of salvation.

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 3:25

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Ephesians 1:12-13

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 4:30

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Paul speaks of his own difficulty in overcoming sin:

Romans 7:14-25

14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Although the grace of God is not a license to continue living a life of sin, it is His grace that is the means by which we are capable of overcoming our sinful nature. We, however, will not be punished when we occasionally fail to do so.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11

9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Israel's sins (post-cross) will be forgiven "at the times of refreshing", when Christ returns to establish Israel's long-awaited kingdom of heaven (Acts 1:6):

Peter speaking below to the men of "Israel":

Acts 3:12-21

12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

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    Nice answer Mark (I feel somewhat obligated to state that I disagree with the notion of universal salvation for Israel...though I may have misinterpreted your meaning). Disagreements aside, you may wish to include Romans 8:1 in your list: no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.
    – tnknepp
    May 10 at 16:42
  • @tnknepp Thank you! I'm with you on universal salvation. I believe it would be all of 'believing' Israel that would be saved. Paul pretty much confirms that in Rom 10:1-4 also. Very good point on Romans 8:1 too! Thanks! May 13 at 13:57
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No!

St. Thomas Aquinas lists six blasphemies against the Holy Spirit, which according to the Lord and Savior cannot be forgiven (Mark 3:29):

  1. Despair
  2. Presumption
  3. Resistance to the known Truth
  4. Envy of a brother's spiritual good
  5. Impenitence, i.e. the specific purpose of not repenting of a sin
  6. Obstinacy, whereby a person, clinging to their sin, becomes immune to the thought that its beneficial effects, to one or others, are very minor or otherwise short-term.

What you're describing is Point #5.

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As said by Nigel J, this is not the place for personalized advice. Also, your question seems to imply you are asking in an Evangelical context, but that is not explicitly stated.

I therefor take the freedom to try and answer your question form the perspective of my faith, Roman Catholicism.

In Catholicism, leaving out the very specific situations, divorce just doesn't exist. Once married in Church, you are married for life. So a civil divorce is a sin in itself, but it does not destroy the marriage. Marrying someone else after this civil divorce is another sin, and I might say a pretty serious one indeed. Why? Because it isn't just a sin, it is a very public sin that gives annoyance (if that is the right translation in English) to the faithful. It is an act that openly defies the mission God gives to married couples, to make the love of God present in the world, to be an image of that love. God's love does not end, and so a Catholic marriage cannot end. Civil divorce and another civil marriage is an outcry.

That being said, there is always a way back to God. In this kind of situations that would be hard, very hard, but not impossible. The short answer to the question is: no. By continuing to sin, you show you do not really repent.

The longer answer in the example of marriage, civil divorce, another civil marriage would be: if the person in question truly repents, they should repent, return to the spouse from the marriage, and make fitting arrangements for the person in the second civil marriage, maybe children as well.

That would be a very difficult road probably, but not impossible. What is impossible is to repent from a sin you do not wish to end.

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