The Journal of Biblical Accuracy
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Do we lose our salvation every time we sin?

Some people claim that once a person sins then he loses his salvation and he needs to repent, till he sins again and then loses his salvation again and so on. I do not think that this is so. We can be in the faith and unfortunately sin, stumble (but still be on the way) and then get up and move on. As 1 John says:

1 John 1:5-10
"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

I want to point out verse 7: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." Why would there be any need for the blood of Christ to cleanse us from any sin since we are walking in the light? It seems to me that walking in the light does not necessarily mean that we are not going to sin. What I mean is that sin is a possibility also in this case, but it is an "episode", something that we put behind us and move on. We are not practicing sin; we are not living in sin. It comes on our way and rather easily1 but we do not practice it i.e. do it willingly, habitually and as a way of life. And as we confess our sins the blood of Christ cleanses us from all of them.

Now walking in the light is one scenario but not the only one for a believer. There is another one also and this is walking in the darkness. As the apostle said:

"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."

"Practice the truth" is something that stands out for me here. When we walk in the darkness we do not practice the truth, which turned the other way around also reads: when we do not practice the truth then we walk in the darkness. 1 John 2:9-11 gives a direct application of the above:

1 John 2:9-11
"Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes."

and 1 John 4:20
"If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."

Furthermore, 1 John 3:14-15
"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."

We see here what we have seen in all previous cases: as far as the Bible is concerned, it is not that important what we say that we are but what our fruit shows that we really are i.e. what we are practicing. As Apostle John says: somebody who hates his brother is a murderer and has no eternal life abiding in him. If he says he loves God, John says, do not believe him, for if he does not love his brother whom he saw, how can he love God whom he has not seen? Now let me ask something: do we, based on the above, really think that a brother hater who has not repented, i.e. an unrepentant murderer, will end up in the Kingdom of God, just because he says he loves God, and because he is a "brother" (that is how he is called)? I believe the answer of John is a clear no. "No murderer has eternal life abiding in him" he tells us, and the context does not speak about heathen murderers but Christians that hate their brothers. I believe in the Kingdom there will be many repented murderers, but there will not be even a single unrepentant one.

As Paul warns in Galatians 5:19-21:

Galatians 5:19-21
"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

The Greek word translated as "do" (in the "do such things" phrase) is the word "prasso", from which we get in English the verb "to practice". According to Strong’s dictionary it means, among others:

"to "practice", that is, perform repeatedly or habitually".

Now why would Paul need to warn the Galatian believers that those who practice these things will not enter into the Kingdom (that is what "inherit the Kingdom" means – just do a search on the word "inherit" in the New Testament and it will become evident), if they were already in the Kingdom from the moment they believed, regardless of what happened after that? Obviously, if this was really so, he would have no reason to give them this warning. But he did, which means there was a reason for this. And the reason is very simple: whether we live out our faith, whether we practice it or not practice it, proves really whether we are really in the faith or not. To say it differently: those who say they are believers (and perhaps once they were true believers), yet habitually and repeatedly practice sin by hating their brother (which is equal to murder) or by practicing any of the other things described in Galatians 5:19-21 and do not repent of this behavior, will find the door of the Kingdom shut. They will not inherit the Kingdom of God Paul said. Also Hebrews 10:26-27 is very clear:

"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."

Going back now to 1 John 1:5-7 and reading it again:

1 John 1:5-7
"This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin."

There is walking in the light and walking in the darkness. Those who walk in the light may fall here and there but they do not practice – habitually, repeatedly and as a way of life - sin. Instead they habitually and repeatedly (as a way of life) practice the truth i.e. they strive to live what the Word of God says in practice. They may sin here and there but they are on the way. They will find the door of the Kingdom open.

In contrast to these, there are those who walk in the darkness, and this means they practice sin, repeatedly and habitually. Sin is their way of life. These are walking in darkness and their fruit is the proof of this. If they do not repent they will find the door of the Kingdom shut.

So, it is not sinning while walking in the light that marks that somebody is out of the faith but sinning as a way of life; practicing sin willfully and habitually. However, we should be careful here as all habits have a start. Therefore, if we fell and sinned let us not take it with a light heart but after we confess it to the Lord let us be alerted, lest we give place to sin and then what was just an episode becomes a habit.

 


Footnotes

1. As Hebrews 12:1 says: "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us". The phrase "so easily ensnares us" is one word in the Greek text, the word "euperispaston". According to Barnes: "it properly means, "standing well around;" and hence, denotes what is near, or at hand, or readily occurring. So Chrysostom explains it. .. Tyndale renders it "the sin that hangeth on us."

Chapter 7: Common Objections

 

Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou