Providing one’s heart is oriented rightly toward God, he will not sin out of calloused blatant rebellion but instead out of weakness due to our fallen nature, and he is therefore covered by Christ’s blood sacrifice on the cross, should death occur before conscious repentance of that sin.
I spent many years wrestling with the concept of losing one’s salvation, and recently I made some very important discoveries, as follows.
While fully realizing we Christians are called to live apart from sin, we still have a fallen nature, which means we will eventually, inevitably, sin. But in the event we do sin, do we consequently lose our salvation, or does God instead grant us free-license to indulge our sin because salvation is irrevocable?
Some say that once Jesus takes up residence in one’s heart, that person is guaranteed eternal life, even if afterward he or she sins and subsequently dies with an unrepentant rebellious state of heart. This belief makes a mockery of living a Holy life pleasing to God, and also devalues Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the cross, the total game-changer that not only blots out our sin upon accepting him into our heart, but so too empowers us to live apart from sin thereafter.
Another belief is that, yes, an individual does lose his salvation upon sinning, but as long as the individual repents of that sin before dying he will obtain eternal life with Jesus. This belief creates the bondage of perfectionism and legalism (or Pharisee-ism), forcing one to focus more on not sinning than on building a powerful relationship with God. It makes one seek human perfection at the expense of Godly Holiness, thus robbing one’s spiritual power at best, and ultimately becoming a God-replacing idol of faith-devoid works at worst. Neither of these two beliefs completely reconciles with scripture, as they both are two artificial divisions of the underlying indivisible truth.
Lance Ponder summed it up in his comment on Can I Lose My Salvation?: “It is all about focus. If we focus on self instead of God, even if the reason seems as virtuous as avoiding sin and rebellion, we are in fact in rebellion which is itself sin. Herein lies the great paradox and the lie is revealed.”
So what happens if a true believer sins but dies before repenting? As stated on my recent post, Can I Lose My Salvation?, “I don’t believe it is the sin itself that negates one’s salvation, but instead the state of heart that does the sinning. Willful and unrepentant rebellion always assures separation from God, and ultimately incurs his wrath. This was the downfall of Lucifer, the one who knows, and once gloried in, absolute truth but tossed it away for his own arrogant pride against God.” Therefore if one’s heart is oriented rightly toward God, not only is he assured an eternally secure salvation but he also retains free-will, thus giving him the ability to choose at each given moment which path to take, obedience or rebellion. This also means that the only criteria for maintaining assurance of salvation is maintaining a heart that hates sin and loves God, which necessitates both a repentant heart and growing one’s relationship with God.
Providing one’s heart is oriented rightly toward God, he will not sin out of calloused blatant rebellion but instead out of weakness due to our fallen nature, and he is therefore covered by Christ’s blood sacrifice, should death occur before conscious repentance of that sin. However, in the event the Holy Spirit convicts him of that sin – ultimately insisting he choose between repentance and eternal damnation – and instead of repenting, he willfully, rebelliously, chooses to reject the Holy Spirit in favor of sin, rebellion immediately fills his heart and his relationship with God terminates. The Lake of Fire then becomes his eternal destiny.
So in the end, both “eternal security” (eternally secure salvation) and the ability to lose one’s salvation are together valid, but not separately. That is my conclusion.
I want to give my heart-felt thanks to Jerry Starling (Author of the “Committed to Truth” blog; post, Security of the Believer) and Fr. Robert (my personal friend: “Irish Anglican’s Weblog”; post, Apostasy in the Church, Gal.1:6-7, our attached conversation) for their invaluable insight in helping me reach my conclusion.
It means so much to receive wise and patient mentoring from seasoned fellow believers. Thank you.