Eternal security is the work of God in Christ that guarantees that the gift of salvation once received by faith is possessed forever and cannot be lost. Many people believe they are basically good, but according to the Lord’s standard, we are all sinners, and no one is good enough to be accepted into heaven. Good deeds can’t save us, and they won’t keep us saved. Although sin no longer fits our new identity in Christ, we’ll still sin at times. However, when we understand the biblical doctrine of eternal security, we won’t excuse our sin or take advantage of our secure position as children of God by living in sin.
Salvation is neither achieved nor maintained by anything we do, and it cannot be lost if we sin. In the book of 1 John, the apostle John explains how believers are to deal with sin when it occurs in their lives.
“The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The tense of the Greek verb signifies a continuous, habitual action of cleansing for our sin by Christ’s blood.
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves” (v. 8). Believers are still capable of sin even after salvation.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v. 9). This is the solution for the times we stumble and fall. Confession is acknowledging to God that we have acted in a manner inconsistent with His character and standards.
“I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). It’s not God’s will that we sin, but Jesus is our Advocate before the Father when we do. His sacrifice fully atoned for mankind’s sin and satisfied God’s justice. When we repent and believe that Christ died for our sins, we are justified and declared righteous before God.
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 John 3:9). In other words, if we are truly born again, sin will not be a continuing practice in our lives. There may be brief periods of sin, but we will soon feel the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
In the life of believers, sin brings God’s discipline, not the loss of salvation. Having been saved by the blood of Jesus and sealed by the Holy Spirit, we are eternally secure. And as God’s children, we are called to live a holy life and deal immediately with sin. If we don’t, our loving heavenly Father will be faithful to discipline us so we can be restored to a godly lifestyle (Heb. 12:5-6).
This article was originally published on June 26, 2016, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Your Convictions About Eternal Security” which airs this weekend on TV.