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Topic: Once Saved, Always Saved

Faith as a Deterrent to Sin

by Darrel Cline

In our consideration of what the Bible says about the question of once-saved, always-saved we have shown (093) that the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace through faith. This raises this question: How much impact does a person's faith have upon his daily living? We have argued (095) that the Bible does not teach that a believer is kept from sin by trusting Christ for eternal life.

We would like to expand upon that answer by asking another question: What is it that keeps the believer from sinning? The Bible teaches that though being a believer does not keep a person from sinning (note Abraham, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul, etc.), believing keeps a person from sinning.

Now this may seem contradictory to you, but the reason for the confusion is the way we speak of believing in our generation. In these days, we gloss over what it means to believe. For example, I spoke to a man one day about whether he was a believer. His response was I believe everything in the Bible. Now, I have been through 9 years of formal theological training in two institutions where the content of the Bible was the major focus of the curriculum. I have also been in the ministry of teaching the Bible for 27 years. I have been one of God's children for 30 years. I still do not understand everything in the Bible, nor do I find myself able to believe it all. So, when this man made his claim, I knew he wasn't talking in biblical terms. He was talking in 20th century American terms.

In biblical terms, when a person claims to believe something, he is claiming to believe a specific thing and he is claiming to be using his faith in this specific thing in the daily affairs of his life. This is why believers are often caught up in sin. The thing that made them believers was faith in the promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ. But believing that you have eternal life through Christ does not keep you from swearing when you touch something very hot and blister your hide.

So, what does? Believing something else that the Bible says: the fruit of God's indwelling Spirit's impact is godliness (Galatians 5:22-23). You see, one can believe that he is saved by Jesus' death and resurrection (this will get him eternal life) and be ignorant of the power of the Spirit of God within him to enable him to respond to pain without cursing. So, a person can be a believer and falter at some point where faith in Christ as Savior does not address his situation. But, a person cannot be walking by the power of the Spirit and sin.

Thus, it is the power of the Spirit that keeps the believer from sinning as he (the believer) depends upon Him (the Spirit of God). So, it is faith that keeps the believer from sin; but it is not a generalized American faith. It is, rather, a specific biblical confidence in a specific biblical truth (regarding the ministry of God's Spirit to the child of God). What does this imply about once-saved-always-saved? This: a person is saved by faith in Christ as Savior, not by faith in the Spirit as the divine Character-producer in the lives of God's children. Faith in Jesus gets you saved. Faith in the Spirit makes you godly.

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This is article #096.
If you wish, you may contact Darrel as darrelcline at this site.