Security in Christ: Conditional…or not? – Part 3
By Adrian Bateman
Can sin cause us to lose our salvation?
In Colossians 1:22-23, we read that “… (God will) present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel ….” We have seen this in the previous parts of this series and once again we see that it is GOD who will present us holy and unblameable and unreproveable. And what is the one condition? If we do not sin? No. IF we continue in the faith … IF we remain grounded (firmly established as in a solid foundation) and settled (seated and steadfast) … and not allow ourselves to be moved away from the hope of the gospel.
Sinning doesn’t cause a truly saved person to move away from the hope of the gospel; it causes them to more desperately cling to it, knowing that they have no hope but Christ. Moving away from the hope of the gospel refers to losing faith. And that would mean that a person does not have true faith: for to lose it means they are not under the seal and protection of the Holy Spirit nor under the prayers of our Savior. Were they under that protection and in those prayers, they would not, they COULD not, walk away from Christ. Oh, they may appear to in a season of great distress. But the root is good, it is deep, and though the plant itself may be strangled to the point of appearing to bear no fruit, the plant is still there and the root is still drawing that life-giving nourishment. It is the seed that falls on hard ground and is snatched away by Satan without ever germinating; and it is the seed that appears to germinate but never develops a root in Christ and thus never receives of His life-giving waters; these are the seeds that result in destruction. The choked plant still lives; but with no fruit it produces no value for the farmer. This is the Christian whose life results in no crowns, no rewards. The ones which produce fruit, regardless of the amount of that yield, result in rewards … commensurate with the value of the fruit they produce.
I said earlier to please not think I am condemning those who believe in conditional eternal security. It is a very hard concept to give up. The fear that in so doing one will produce unholy living and encourage sin in the Church is hard to overcome. The bondage is akin to that experienced by those in cults who are afraid to give up their belief because in so doing they may bring the displeasure of God upon themselves. Fear is what holds them. But once they truly understand the grace of God and His love, they will begin to see the truth that God’s salvation is not a continual in and out thing; nor is it humanly secured. It is secured by God. And, as Paul said, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him—that is, “my very soul and its eternal destination”—against that day (the Day of the Lord.)”
The fear, of course, the fear is that by believing this we open the door to sin. And that is the exact charge made against those who believe in unconditional eternal security. Paul faced this same criticism when he taught on grace. He was forced by the truth to say ” … where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” In other words, sin can never exceed grace. No matter how much sin there is, grace will ALWAYS be greater. Yes, God’s grace will ALWAYS be greater than all my sin. And all of yours, too! No wonder Paul was attacked by those who believed strongly that Christians were still bound to keep the law of God in order to live holy and acceptable to the Lord. To these legalists, Paul was giving people license to sin. But what did Paul say to this charge?
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!” (Romans 6:1a)
That is as strong a condemnation of the charge as it is possible to make. Especially when you read the Greek and understand the force inherent in his grammar. Paul then explains that one who is truly born again cannot continue to willfully live in sin. This does not mean that he or she cannot sin. Nor that they necessarily will not sin. But it means they cannot LIVE in it. They cannot happily continue on as they once did, their life in no way different than it was before. Why? Because they have been crucified with Christ and resurrected with Him into newness of life! Their old life is gone. It is dead. They now have a new life.
“How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:1-11)
We are to RECKON ourselves to be dead to sin! But exactly how do we do that? We’ll take up that question in part 4 as we conclude this study.