Sunday, August 23, 2015

When you're saved...and your friend is not

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. ~Walter Winchell


I'm not a social person. I am a loner who likes her own company. However the Lord blessed me with two very good friends in my life. One was while I was in grade school through High School. The other came into my life when I was 40 years old.

If you ever had a friend who loved you for who you were, accepted you quirks and all, and with whom you never had a fight or even a cross word, you were blessed. I know I was.

Imagine a person so caring, so selfless, so consistently nice, that there were even whispers from others that 'she must be an angel' and mean it literally.

Imagine a person whose house was always open, no matter the time of day or night, and who would make you tea if you were sick and bring issues if you were crying. Who always listened without interruption. Who had been married for over two decades to the same man, an astounding statistic among unsaved people. Who was a great mom and a great wife. Who would cook for you even if it was from her last can of beans in the cupboard, and serve it with a smile. Who was talented and artistic and always up for a road trip, whether it was mini or maxi.

Who was the one person in town everyone loved.

And all this without being a Christian. But then again, neither was I.

She made me a better person. She introduced me to concepts of unconditional love, consistent acceptance of people without criticism, staying married, putting the children first. Of having uncomplicated fun, and enjoying the small moments. Of even spiritual things, like there being a force in the universe managing events and people.

For 6 years it was a great relationship. When everything else in my life went crazy, this friend was there.

And then I got saved. You know what happens then. I moved 1200 miles away, You know what happens then. A double strike against a friendship continuing.

When two are together and one is in Christ and the other is in sin, it is called being unequally yoked. This refers back to two oxen who are yoked together for the purpose of plowing a straight row for planting. If you yoke together a large ox and a small ox, or an old ox and a young ox, or a strong ox and a weak ox, they will pull in different directions, make crooked rows, or plow in a circle. It does not work.

A mom doing dishes. EPrata photo.
It is the same with two people getting married if one is saved and the other isn't. The Bible prohibits such unions. And as for friends, it is similar but not exactly the same. One friend is a new creation, yearning for the things of heaven. The other is an old sinner, yearning for the things of the world. The twain exist together, but their very purposes for life differ as much as the east is from the west.

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Christians are not to be bound together with non-Christians in any spiritual relationship or enterprise that would be detrimental to the Christian's testimony within the body of Christ. ... [however] ... this command does not mean believers should end all associations with unbelievers; that would defy the purpose for which God saved believers and left them on earth." ~John MacArthur on 2 Cor 6:14
Still, the inevitable pull of Jesus away from unsaved friends is going to happen. But meanwhile, it was my chance to illustrate to her by word and deed what it means to be a Christian. How Jesus who gave me a new heart and a purpose for living (glorifying Him and enjoying Him forever), and how He brings meaning to life and that eternal.

Even though friends may be far apart in geographic distance, the wonders of the internet allow people to keep up. I prayed for her, I witnessed on my FB page, and I carefully watched what she put up on her page. Nine years went by. As sanctification increased, there was less to talk about. As the world infiltrated her more and more, she became more deeply entrenched within it. As the Spirit infiltrated me more and more, I became more deeply yearning for heaven and the things of heaven. I read her typical liberal stuff, but there was nothing overtly declarative for satan. It seemed that a seared conscience or a reprobate mind was not happening yet. (1 Timothy 4:2, Romans 1:28). A holding pattern continuing this long perhaps meant that the Lord in His grace would save her still. Hope remained.

And then the inevitable happened. As these Planned Parenthood videos keep coming out, demonstrating America's culture of death and our deeply entrenched sin, she made a comment on her FB page exalting PP and minimizing sin and God. This time, I could not refrain and I gave the Gospel (again) in a short sentence.

As it is with the Word of God, it pierces. It settles like a burr on the conscience, to niggle and worm its way into the very soul. This is because--

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

I knew the Spirit would work its way into the heart once again. As we all know, there comes a time when the person either submits to the pricks of the goad, crumbles, and repents; or closes the heart and it becomes hardened.

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (Romans 9:18; cf. Mark 8:17).

What will happen? Would this be the moment we'd see grace upon grace, and a converted heart? O, Lord, I yearn for all to be saved, as You do, but I yearn most for the people I love. My friend was wonderful how I wish I could share that Jesus is the best friend of all. How great if we could enjoy Him together.

Unfortunately it was not to be. This appeared soon after. My heart broke in two. It was titled "Declaration of Sinlessness."



And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ (Luke 16:26)

A public and formal confession repudiating our sin, God, Jesus, and the atonement is a pretty devastating event in a person's eternal life. A public confession of Jesus and His atonement and belief in His resurrection is an important public utterance, and so is the importance of rejecting Him just as forcefully.

And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. (Matthew 12:32)

Gill's Exposition explains the unpardonable sin spoken of in Matthew 12:32.
It shall not be forgiven him: not because the Holy Ghost is greater than Christ; or for want of efficacy in the blood of Christ; or because God cannot pardon it; but because such persons wilfully, maliciously, and obstinately oppose the Spirit of God, without whom there can be no application of pardon made; and remain in hardness of heart, are given up to a reprobate mind, and die in impenitence and unbelief, and so there is no forgiveness for them.
Is this the unpardonable sin for her? Probably. Conclusively? I leave it in Jesus' hands. He knows what is in a man, I do not. I only know what I see, and the fruit is thorns and brambles. The road seems to have finally diverged for good.

"For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. "For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. (Luke 6:43-45)

Therefore, publicly repudiating God and declaring one's self sinless is a serious offense. If it's not a sin leading to death at this moment, it's a sin that will in all likelihood lead to a hardened heart and a seared mind. The prognosis is bad, if not terminal.

Of course God CAN change the heart of anyone. Whether a name is in the Lamb's Book of Life or not I don't know. I still pray so. But it is with my own heavy heart that I see the voice declaring evil, the heart hardening, the conscience searing, the chasm arriving.

The Christian life is hard. It involves constant battle of one's flesh nature, to subdue the old man in us and glorify God by submitting to His Spirit. It involves rejection, hardship, trouble. All these things we know. But to watch loved ones, or any ones travel that broad road leading to death with the eternal chasm at the end of it is agony. Hearing or seeing their blasphemous words of evil against a Holy God is wrenching. One friend is traveling the road that ends where there is no weeping (Isaiah 65:19) while the other travels the road where it only ends in eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28)
There are in the souls of wicked men those hellish principles reigning, that would presently kindle and flame out into hell fire, if it were not for God's restraints. There is laid in the very nature of carnal men, a foundation for the torments of hell. There are those corrupt principles, in reigning power in them, and in full possession of them, that are seeds of hell fire. These principles are active and powerful, exceeding violent in their nature, and if it were not for the restraining hand of God upon them, they would soon break out, they would flame out after the same manner as the same corruptions, the same enmity does in the hearts of damned souls, and would beget the same torments as they do in them. ~Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
I'm no different than anyone else. I was a horrible sinner, now saved by grace, hoping and praying for the gift of redemption to be given to those I love, and those I don't love, and those I don't even know. When a soul goes striding past grace and insists on their own broad path to destruction, it's hard to watch, let alone endure. Everyone has loved ones who are on the broad path, with a mother or a father or a friend praying for them with breath held and hands clasped.

Everyone has loved ones who died in their sin, unconverted and now in torment, with their friends on this side of the veil clinging to the knowledge of the Justice of Holy God and there but for the grace of God go I.

I'm no different. But ... Lord, come quickly.



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Further Reading

Is it good to have close friendships with unbelievers?

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Pilgrim's Progress online

How do I minister to an unsaved friend whose loved one died without a relationship with Christ?



5 comments :

  1. Elizabeth, my heart breaks not only for you but for your friend. There is not much that I can add to your heart wrenching post except that we believers are all going to face what you are going through. I am beginning to see the cracks in my own relationships opening into a chasm and I have to confess I am afraid of where that will lead. I join you in prayer for all unbelievers, and especially for those we know and love. I also pray that the Holy Spirit will give us the courage and strength to face our attackers and our sorrows for we know not from where they will come. Love to you in Christ Jesus.
    Sandy

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  2. Elizabeth, I know just how you feel. I actually lose sleep over my unsaved sister. It truly grieves me that she wants nothing to do with Jesus, and it seems like she's made it her mission to find every instance of hypocrisy in the church. Like you, I leave it in Jesus' hands because he is mighty to save. " Dear Jesus, please save them because you are their only hope." That is my prayer for your friend, my sister, and for all unbelievers. -Claudia

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  3. This one hits home for me, too. I have an unsaved friend who lives on the other side of the country. We can talk about many things but I know our worldviews will collide at some point. He came to bring a sword.

    Melissa

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  4. I'm so very sorry to hear this. :( We, too, know someone who we love, when given the Gospel, said something to the effect of "I can find no error in anything you've said, but I reject it all completely". It is agony at times, for sure, to witness this kind of outright rejection of God.

    Sometimes though, a believer's friendship with an unbeliever is instrumental in their salvation. That was the case for me, and I thank God for the Christian friends in my life who loved me and shared the Lord's truth with me.

    -Carolyn

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  5. I hear your heart's cry on this, Elizabeth...I, too am heartbroken for so many.
    Thank you for your faithfulness to staying the course in order to serve our Lord in His strength and in all truth...and thank you for the links to the eBooks. ~Lisa

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