I read something in this last week that really got my ire up. It seemed as though the author was questioning whether someone struggling with sin was saved. The way it was written, a person reading it would feel as though their salvation was being questioned if they struggled in that area. I found myself disagreeing with that way of looking at things immediately when I read it and now a few days later, I still feel much the same way.
When a person is struggling with sin in their lives we have the responsiblity to challenge them on it and encourage them to turn from it. But, I do not feel that it is appropriate to question whether they are saved. That is not our place. God alone is the One who knows whether or not a person is truly saved, and it is not our place to try to determine that.
Scripture gives us examples of how to and tells us that we should go to fellow believers and confront them on sin we see in our lives. And we should do this because we love them. But, no where in the Scriptures do I see them saying that we should question whether someone has received salvation.
Matthew 18:15-17 is probably one of the passages of Scripture that I have heard used most often when it comes to this topic. I talks about going to the person and confronting him about his sin, first privately, then with a couple of others, and then with whole church. After all of that, it says to stop feloowshipping with the person if they are continuing to live in sin and refusing to repent of it. No where in this passage do I see Jesus saying anything about questioning someone's salvation. What I see is Jesus teaching His followers to confront the sin they see in another believer's life - to deal with what they know is true and observable.
1 Corinthians 5 is another passage where confronting the sin of another. But, again, it is speaking of confronting the sin and taking the steps necessary for the person to come to repentance, not of going to them and saying, "Are you really saved?" That is something we cannot know.
We are not to tolerate and ignore flagrant sin within the body of Christ. We should confront and challenge one another on it, and hopefully that confrontation and challenge will lead to repentance of sin. And if it does not, then the person living in the sin should face the consequences of their sin in not being a part of the fellowship of believers. But, no where in either of these passages do I see anything that teaches that we should try to decide whether or not another person, who claim to be a believer, is actually saved. That is not our job.
I would be the first to admit that confronting sin in another's life is hard. It is not something to be taken lightly. And, we do not tend to do it very well in our churches these days, but that does not mean this is not the way God intends for it to happen. Just because we do not want to say anything to someone about the sin in their life does not mean that we should change our ways and beign questioning their salvation.
Now, I know that I have probably opened a can of worms, so to speak, with this topic and all reading may not agree with me. Since I do not claim to be an expert on this, I am okay if you do not agree. If you explain why and how you disagree, I will listen to (read) your thoughts. The only way to grow is to be challenged on what we are doing and on what we think or understand about things related to our faith.