How Secure Is Salvation?

How Secure Is Salvation?

1. Introduction | 2. God's Preservation of Believers | 3. Sealed for Redemption |
4. Forgiven Completely | 5. A License to Sin? |
6. Common Objections to Eternal Security | 7. Conclusion

5. A License to Sin?

Does eternal security give the Christian the right to sin and rebel with no call of holiness and righteousness on his life? Those who oppose eternal security often say that this doctrine allows Christians to sin as much as they wish without any concern or fear of punishment. This, of course, is based on a misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches regarding sin and the believer. God commands His people to live separated, righteous, and holy lives in the face of a world that rejects Christ.

"Therefore, 'COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,' says the Lord. 'AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; And I will welcome you.'" (2 Corinthians 6:17)

"But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.'" (1 Peter 1:15-16)

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age." (Titus 2:11-12)

However, Christians are not perfect and those who say they have no sin deceive themselves (1 John 1:8). When a Christian sins God wants him to admit he has sinned, and turn away from that sin.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

Please note that this verse does not say the believer must ask for forgiveness. Since Jesus paid for sin in full on the cross, forgiveness of sin is a settled matter. The passage refers to the fellowship of the believer with God. When a Christian sins, a barrier of guilt comes up between the Christian and God, hindering fellowship. Confession of sin is God's method for removing that barrier so the Christian can resume his close walk of fellowship with Him. Another important point is that it is not God's will that His children sin, but if they do, Jesus Christ intercedes for them on the basis of his full payment for sin on the cross (1 John 2:1-2).

In light of God's provision for sin in the believer's life, does this mean that the Christian can go out and sin as much as he wants with no consequences? Consider what Romans 6 has to say.

"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? ... Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts ... What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? ... For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death." (Romans 6:1-2, 12, 15-16, 20-21)

1 Corinthians 5 provides a prime example of a believer who got involved in gross sin and would not repent. According to those who profess conditional salvation, that person would be lost. But does this example indicate this?

"It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst. For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
(1 Corinthians 5:1-5)

Notice that the penalty for this Christian's rebellion is not the loss of salvation but the destruction of the body that the spirit may be saved. His spirit "may" be saved means that he is saved and will still go to heaven. If there is any question about the word "may", look at 1 Corinthians 15:28: "When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all." The word "may" in this verse does not mean, maybe God will be all in all or maybe He won't. It means He will be all in all, just as the rebellious Christian is saved even though his body should be destroyed by Satan.

Chastisement on the personal level is a tool used by God for believers only (Hebrews 12:5). God's discipline is based on love, and serves to bring the believer to acknowledgement of his sin, to confession in order to be restored to fellowship to Him (Hebrews 12:6).


Discipline does not mean a loss of salvation (Galatians 3:26; Hebrews 12:6; 1 Corinthians 11:32). It is chastisement for sins of the believer in the immediate context of the sin that was committed. And discipline is removed by confession of sin (1 John 1:9). Suffering may well be part of the chastisement, and confession does not remove suffering. However, when suffering continues after the believer has been restored to fellowship, the suffering is for a positive purpose.

If a believer continues in sin and refuses to repent and confess, the chastisement will become more and more severe. Certain sins may result in compounded discipline, particularly those sins in which the believer is acting as a stumbling block to others. In extreme cases, the believer could suffer the "sin leading to death" (1 John 5:16-17).

The believer can avoid divine discipline through a consistent exercise of the principles of Christian living outlined in the Word of God, as illustrated in Hebrews 12.

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, 'MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.'" (Hebrews 12:1-6)

To summarize, when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, He paid for them all. Past sins, present sins, and future sins. The blood of Christ does not cleanse us of only past and present sins, but "all" sin (1 John 1:7). This does not mean, however, that Christians can sin as much as they want without facing negative consequences. Divine discipline is designed to restrain us from sin and to teach us lessons which will result in sanctified growth.

"All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:11)

The next section will deal will with common objections to eternal security posed by those who hold to conditional salvation.

1. Introduction | 2. God's Preservation of Believers | 3. Sealed for Redemption |
4. Forgiven Completely | 5. A License to Sin? |
6. Common Objections to Eternal Security | 7. Conclusion
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