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Can Christians with Addictions Go to Heaven?

by Stephen Davey

Pam asked:

I am saved, but I have an addition to painkillers. If I die still having this addiction, will I still go to heaven?


I’m very sorry to learn of your struggle. In my years of pastoral ministry, I’ve met many people in similar situations. The Wisdom team has prayed for you!

I think your question is a common one for Christians who deal with chronic pain. Can a Christian with a drug addiction go to heaven? I want to approach the answer to this question in three parts: the transformative power of God's grace, the assurance of salvation, and the continuous journey toward sanctification.

Understanding Grace and Salvation

The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV): "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." This passage underlines a foundational tenet of Christianity: your salvation is a gift from God, granted not by human merit but by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Because of this, we know that salvation is not contingent upon our actions, sins, or struggles. Your salvation depends solely on your faith in Christ's redemptive work on the cross.

The question is not, “Can God trust me to be worthy of heaven? The question is, “Can I trust God to keep His promises to me?” Salvation is based on God’s worthiness, not your worthiness.

But how should we think about addiction or other persistent sins?

Addiction: A Struggle, Not a Salvation Barrier

As you know, drug addiction is a serious issue. It wreaks havoc on physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and spiritual growth. It's undoubtedly a struggle and a sin Christians should strive to overcome. However, it is crucial to emphasize that sin, including addiction, cannot nullify a believer's salvation.

Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) states, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." This includes addiction.

While ongoing sin in a believer's life, such as drug addiction, can hinder your relationship with God and your spiritual growth, it does not revoke your salvation if you genuinely trust Christ for it.

The Call to Sanctification and Repentance

While your salvation is secure in Christ, Christians are called to live a life of sanctification. God calls you to grow to be more like Jesus continually. This involves turning away from sinful habits, like drug addiction, and striving to obey God's Word.

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 1:9 (ESV), "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This promise assures us that when we confess and repent of our sins, God is faithful to forgive and cleanse us.

Furthermore, I encourage Christians struggling with drug addiction to seek help. This could involve professional medical help, counseling, addiction recovery programs, and a supportive community within the church. I’ve seen God use these resources to help many people. I encourage you to get all the help you can. 

Pam, your struggle with drug addiction is severe, and it's a battle that you are called to fight. But the presence of addiction in your life doesn't alter your salvation. Salvation hinges on faith in Christ's sacrifice, not on your struggles or shortcomings. You and all true Christians with drug addiction can have hope, knowing that your eternity is secure in Christ and that help is available for your struggle here and now.

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Thomas says:
This is all great stuff to read. But I'm still fearful of being abandoned in the afterlife and in this life becoming so much of a spiritual failure that I will lose all hope. I have my addiction and it is a bad one. I hate myself for it, but at the same time see it as part of God's plan for me. Maybe to keep me humble. Knowing I am just a common man, no more. I can overcome it, I know but it is a long path and a difficult one. But what if I relapse just before the end? This is my fear. That fear sometimes consumes me. I am living in this life to learn something, maybe many things. This is the Lord's plan for us all. To anyone reading this, please pray for me to have strength in overcoming my weaknesses. To be a man worthy of a decent afterlife.