1 John 3:1, 3, 5-6 ESV
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are… And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
“You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”
Some people think that God’s love and grace are there for us just to forgive us our sins so that we can escape hell, and just so that we can go to heaven when we die.
Some people, too, think that God’s love and grace to us are a free pass to continue on in sin, only now without guilt, without punishment, and without the need for remorse. Thus, they see God’s love and grace as the freedom to remain in slavery to sin. For, they say that Jesus paid the penalty for their sin so that now they can continue in sin without punishment.
Some people even go so far as to claim that God’s love and grace to us requires no repentance, no obedience to Christ and to his commands, and no submission to him as Lord of our lives. For, they say, that would be works-based salvation.
Now, not all of these people openly admit that this is what they believe. Some of them may even espouse the true gospel of grace, for they know the truth. But, by their lifestyles they deny the truth, and they embrace the lie.
But, is what they are believing and living the truth? No! For, Jesus didn’t die on that cross just to forgive us our sins, and just so we can escape hell, and just so we can go to heaven when we die.
He died to free us from our slavery to sin so that we would now become slaves of his righteousness, and so we would walk in purity of devotion to him. And, he died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us, and so we would honor him with our lives (Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
So, if we have this attitude that we can be “saved” and bound for heaven, but that it doesn’t have to interfere with how we live our lives, then we are falling for a lie. For, if we claim to be in fellowship with God, but we keep on living in (walking in) sin, we are liars, and we don’t know God (1 Jn. 1:5-9).
1 John 3:7-10 ESV
“Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
Okay, so why is John telling Christians that they should not let anyone deceive them? And, then why is he warning Christians that whoever makes a practice of sinning, that he is of the devil? Paul did the same, many times over. The New Testament is filled with warnings to those who profess faith in Jesus Christ against being deceived into thinking that they can continue living in sin and yet still go to heaven when they die.
Some people would say that is because it is possible to lose your salvation. Others would dispute that and say that once you are saved that you are always saved, and that you can never be unsaved, if you truly are saved. And, so they would claim that these people he is addressing never were truly ever saved. I believe there are scriptures that, standing alone, possibly support both of these beliefs. But, I am not here to debate this.
Rather than focus on the debate over whether or not one can lose his salvation, once he truly is saved, I am going to share with you what the scriptures teach regarding our salvation.
First of all, the scriptures don’t teach salvation as a one-time event that takes place in our lives, and then we are good to go until we get to heaven. I know there are scriptures that would seem to indicate this, taken out of context, and as standalones, but we need to look at the scriptures in context, and as a whole unit, and not as individual verses.
For, the scriptures clearly teach that we are saved (past), that we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Christ returns for us and our salvation is complete (Rom. 8:24; 1 Co. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:5).
And, they are also quite clear that our faith is also not a one-time experience but that it is ongoing, and that it must endure to the very end if we want to have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-26; Jn. 8:31-32; Rom. 8:1-17; Col. 1:21-23; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Rev. 2:1-3:22).
Also, we are taught in Romans 8 that the righteous requirement of the law is met in us who walk, not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And, it says that if we walk (in practice) according to the flesh (in sin), that we are going to die in our sins, not have eternal life with God.
And, 1 John 1 teaches the same thing, that it is those who walk in the light who have fellowship with God and with one another, and that those who walk in the darkness, if they claim to have fellowship with God, are liars.
This teaching is all over the New Testament! We can’t avoid it! It is those who make a practice of righteousness who are righteous in God’s sight. But, whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil. He doesn’t know God, and he doesn’t have eternal life with God, no matter what he professes with his lips or says he believes in his heart.
For, the faith to believe in Jesus Christ comes from God, and if from God, it submits to God. The person, thus, who has God-given faith will surrender his life to the Lord, he will leave his sinful lifestyle behind him, and he will follow the Lord in obedience. It is not saying he will live in sinless perfection, although there are those who believe that is what is required. But, 1 Jn. 2:1-2, alone, disputes that, when it says “if you should sin…”
1 John 3:16-18 ESV
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
So, if we have genuine believing faith in Jesus Christ, it should be evident by how we live our lives.
But, let me say this here. There is also evidence in scripture of Christians wandering from the purity of their devotion to the Lord and falling back into sin, and of them being reminded that Jesus died to deliver them from their slavery to sin, and of them being called back to repentance. And, in some cases they were warned of divine discipline or judgment if they did not repent (Revelation 2 and 3, for example).
But, then there is also much evidence in scripture that there are those who say “Lord, Lord” but who do not follow him with their lives, who are going to be surprised one day when they hear, “Depart from me. I never knew you.”
So, what’s the bottom line in all of this? We have to walk the walk, and we have to continue in that walk of faith to the very end if we want to have eternal life with God. And, if we don’t, and we continue living in sin, making it our practice, then we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God, but we have a fearful expectation of the fires of hell because we refused to submit to Christ as Lord of our lives, for we thought we knew better than God.
So, don’t mess around. Don’t play with fire. Love for God is obedience to his commands. Love is not what we feel, in other words. It is what we do. Faith is also not talk. It is what we do in heart response to God and in obedience to his commands.
And, let me say this here, too. It is possible to rid your own life of really bad stuff. It is possible to change your habits by putting off the bad and replacing it with something else, something positive. For, behavioral modification is possible even without Christ. So, this isn’t about just not doing really bad stuff and being a “good deed doer” instead. Lots of people are “good deed doers” who don’t commit gross offenses, and yet they are still not saved from their sins.
True faith in Jesus Christ is surrender to the will of God for your life. If your life is not surrendered to him, and you are still living by your own flesh, in control of your own life, you still aren’t saved and bound for heaven. So, surrender your all to the Lord today. Lay it all down. And, let Jesus rule over your life from this moment forward. And, you will be so glad you did!
He Gave Me a Song
Songwriter: Alton Howard
He took my burdens all away, up to a brighter day…
Brighter the way grows ev’ry day, walking the heav’nly way…
I am redeemed no more to die, never to say goodbye…
And some of these days in that fair land, sing with the chorus grand…
He gave me a song, to sing about
He lifted me from sin and doubt
O, praise His name, He is my King
A wonderful song He is to me
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