The context is referring to believers who are the elders and leaders of their church community who are responsible for how they live before God and people. When a Christian leader slips into sin and for whatever reason continues in that lifestyle, God will bring swift judgment which can result in death.
Others, after their departure (death), their sins will surface. This brings me to a man well known to Christians and many intellectuals named Ravi Zacharias. This man deceived countless of Christians as being a godly man even though he lived a double life. Ravi raped, sexually assaulted and manipulated many women for his depraved mind. There is a 12-page report about Ravi Zacharias’ sexual misconduct living a double life here: Report of Independent Investigation into Sexual Misconduct of Ravi Zacharias
I at one time looked up to the man as he said that he wouldn’t even turn on the TV in the hotel to avoid looking at pornography, not knowing that it was all a lie.
Was Ravi Zacharias a Christian? By the standard of the Scriptures, no. Why? Because the Scripture promises that you will be worked on by the Holy Spirit to be more like Christ, not more like the world.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work among you will complete it by the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6
In the Book of 1 John, it describes what a true Christian looks like from a false one.
No one who remains in Him sins continually; no one who sins continually has seen Him or knows Him. -1 John 3:6
The Scripture makes it crystal clear that a true believer in Jesus will not live a life as he did before he knew Christ. There will be clear evidence of a changed man by way of his behavior, his way of thinking and his new goals. He will look more and more like Jesus as time passes by.
Every Christian sins, there is no argument against that, but a Christian will never stay at a place that God disapproves of. For example: If a believer suffers from drugs, you will see a battle take place where he will try to stay away from it but at times he will fall. Eventually, God will make him victorious where he won’t be its victim anymore. There is a process of overcoming sin. Some sins, God takes it away immediately and others, it takes time to defeat.
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. -1 John 3:7-8
Don’t let anyone deceive you. Examine those who you see on television, computer, or in your church. See what type of life they live and what type of gospel they preach. Ask yourself, do they live in a sinful lifestyle and do they preach what Scripture says? In verses 7 & 8, it tells you that someone’s lifestyle will suggest if they have been converted or not.
No one who has been born of God practices sin, because His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin continually, because he has been born of God. -1 John 3:9
In verse 9, it makes it apparently clear that a person with the Holy Spirit (seed) cannot live in sin without any remorse and change. The reason why some people who call themselves Christians continue to live in sin is because they have not been changed from within. They mirror the world and its value instead of Christ and His Word. This type of evidence shows you who belongs to Jesus and who belongs to the devil.
To what we know, it seems that Ravi Zacharias died never confessing his sins or changing his behavior. He had 200 pictures of women who were not his wife and some of them were without clothes. He had physical encounters with more than one woman. He preached and defended the gospel then he would go and live like the devil. Friend, when you finish preaching the gospel, you continue to live the gospel. That is what makes you a Christian.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “but I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Paul made sure that after he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people that he wouldn’t afterwards live a life of sin, but fought his sinful nature of the flesh not to fall into its traps. That is a picture of a true genuine Christian. We have to fight the flesh, the devil and the world with its devices that can cause Christians to fall.
Our goal is to be more and more like Jesus and less and less like us. John the Baptist put it best…“He must increase, but I must decrease.” -John 3:30