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This is a question that has always tormented Christians: many wonder if God will “disown” them if they continue to sin after they have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Not knowing if they have the assurance of their salvation, they are handicapped in their Christian walk and very often fail to reach the abundance land that Jesus died for them to have.
Satan is constantly trying to undermine us. If he loses a person to Jesus, he will do his best to render him ineffective as a light by making him feel insecure about his salvation. Satan has even succeeded in having theologians disagree on the assurance of salvation for centuries: some vehemently argue that we can never lose our salvation once we have been saved while others strongly advocate the opposite. How can we then be confident about our salvation and effective as ambassadors of Jesus on earth?
Let’s therefore address in some depth here this fundamental question: can a Christian lose his salvation? The definite answer is no, he cannot. However, he can forfeit his salvation and therefore end up being permanently quarantined in hell. How can this be possible? For a simple reason. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive the assurance of our salvation as long as we hold onto our “ticket” to heaven. Salvation is a free gift (Romans 6:23) and is received by faith only (Ephesians 2:8-9), and when we receive it, we are commanded to become sanctified. (Romans 6:22)
As we work on our (progressive) sanctification, we will come to experience fewer and fewer manifestations of our disease, but we will never be able to eradicate it completely from our body, mind and soul while we are on earth. So, if God is sure of one thing is that sin will continue to manifest itself in our lives after our salvation. How can I be so sure of this fact? Well, if this were not true, then God would never have had to send Jesus to die for our sins. He would have been able to ask one human being to assume successfully the mission that He gave to Jesus. However, He did not as He could not find a single person without sin. Ecclesiastes 7:20 confirms this: “there is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.”
This finding is critical. Indeed, how could an all-knowing God take away our salvation because we have sinned after our salvation if it is impossible for us not to sin even though we have been saved? The truth is that our God is a loving and just God and that He would therefore never do such a cruel and unfair thing. The Bible shows us clearly that nothing (not even sin) can separate us from His love. (Romans 8:38-39) Jesus said that He gives His sheep eternal life, and that they shall never perish. (John 10:28) What Jesus is basically saying here is that we cannot lose our salvation; i.e. when God makes a promise, He keeps it. We can therefore be assured of this fact.
Now, if we have the assurance of our salvation, how can we then still end up being quarantined forever in hell? Before we answer this question, let’s go through the following interesting story. It is the story of an older lady who wanted to go to a paradisiacal destination before leaving this earth, but couldn’t afford such a trip with her savings and pension entitlement. One day, one of her neighbors gracefully offered to make her dream come true: he gave her a pre-paid personal voucher that entitled her to fly first class and stay in a five-star hotel, on a full-board basis for up to ten weeks in the location of her choice. She could choose her favorite airline and select the hotel she liked best. She had basically no restrictions whatsoever and her voucher had no expiry date, i.e. it could be claimed any time she wanted, up to her death. All she had to do was to decide the where and when. The company that manages the voucher gifts had already received the money from the neighbor; our elderly lady had the full assurance of the validity of her voucher. Should she lose her voucher, then she only had to call the voucher gift company that would have been pleased to issue her a new one.
I have now a question for you: could our elderly lady lose her gift entitlement? No, impossible. Yet, she never undertook the trip that she longed to do before her death. Why? Because she never claimed her voucher! Initially, she was full of joy and excitement, and could not believe that a person could be so generous towards her. She started planning her trip, but kept postponing her departure due to unforeseen events: a neighbor's death, a grand-daughter's wedding, a grand-son’s graduation, etc. As time went by, her health deteriorated and she began to fear that she would die while overseas and be buried in a foreign land, away from her husband who rested in the local cemetery. So, she slowly gave up on her dream and never claimed her assured gift.
Do you know that the same thing happens to thousands of Christians? They receive a gift voucher, when they accepted God’s salvation plan, that entitles them to go to heaven, yet they never claim it. They forfeit it. How? By not working on their sanctification.
The sanctification process can best be described as follows. When a Christian understands that sin separates him from God (and that each sin erects a wall of separation between Him and God), he will desire nothing more strongly than not to sin. He is therefore open to the rebukes of the Holy Spirit and strives to do what pleases God. He repents anytime he sins and does his very best not to sin consciously or repeatedly. This is the attitude that pleases God and that leads to a holy life. When we live with this attitude, we are assured of our salvation.
However, there are many people who do not take their sanctification seriously. They profess to want to be in a relationship with God, but they consciously continue to sin after they have received the knowledge of the truth. Sin therefore starts to spread again in their body, mind and soul, and as it does, it builds walls of separation between the Holy Spirit and them. The more this process goes on, the less they can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, until the thickness of the walls is such that they are completely separated from the presence of the Holy Spirit in them. When this happens, they have in essence forfeited their “assured” salvation. As a result, they will be quarantined forever in hell.
They have in effect committed what Paul calls blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and this is the only sin that cannot be forgiven: "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” (Hebrews 10:26-27) Thus, it is not God who rejects us, but we, who, through our willful sinning, forfeit our “assured” salvation and end up quarantined forever in hell.
To summarize, be assured of your salvation if you are seeking holiness. If you want to fully restore your relationship with Jesus after you have sinned, then all you need to do is to repent and sincerely ask God for His forgiveness, which He will then immediately extend to you. Thereafter, ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome sin, like Jesus taught us in the Lord's prayer: "lead us not into temptation." (Matthew 6:13) God will not force anybody to claim his or her gift. He has given us free will; we must therefore decide whether we really want to abide in His presence or not. It is our choice, and we exercise that choice daily by our actions, whether we realize it or not.
Serge stayed seven years in what he calls God's detoxification clinic. During this time he studied and meditated extensively upon the Word of God, renewed his mind, received many revelations from the Holy Spirit, developed many spiritual gifts, taught Bible-Study classes in a large Christian Church and successfully passed key tests that God had asked him to take. More importantly, he learned to trust and to depend solely on God.
He is married since 1995 to Barbara, and they are the parents of two children.
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