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Topic: Once Saved, Always Saved

Free To Sin or Free From Sin?

by Darrel Cline

We have been looking at the issue of once-saved-always-saved. It is one of the topics of religion that functions like a hair-trigger on a gun--if you barely mention it, there is an explosion of noise. No one seems to care too much about whether the bullet hits the target, all they seem to care about is the noise. And that's precisely why the debate gets heated. True disciples of Jesus Christ ought to care more about whether a topic is true than whether people will abuse it to their own ends.

The most common objection to the dogma that once you are truly saved, you will remain so forever, is given in these words: if you teach people that, they will begin to be careless about their sin. If you tell people that once they are saved their sins cannot separate them from God again, they will not strive to be godly in their behavior.

What shall we say to this?

This: self-focused people cannot do anything but sin because their selfishness will corrupt their motivation. God never accepts an action apart from the motive that generated it. If a motive is corrupt, even the best looking action is evil.

But what has this to do with the objection? This: any person whose motive for good behavior is to escape Hell is acting in pure self-interest (that's selfishness, folks). Therefore, if our reason for telling people that their salvation is not secure in Jesus is to keep them from getting careless, we are really forcing them to act selfishly. The only person who is free from acting selfishly is the person who is not worried about losing what is important to him. Only those people who are secure in their relationship with Jesus are able to live freely. Therefore, if we keep a sword of judgment over their heads by telling them that Jesus died for their sins, but they must behave if they want to go to heaven, they can never be free.

People who are in bondage, sin. People who are under the threat of condemnation are in bondage. You cannot help them be free from sin by threatening them with judgment. People can't behave until they are secure in God's love for them. The Bible says we will only love God after we have believed in His love for us. If His love for us is behavior-dependent, we can never be secure. If we can never be secure, we can never be free. If we can never be free, we can never live godly in Christ.

Therefore, it is not those who teach once-saved-always-saved who are setting people free to sin. It is rather those who are always on their back about God's conditional love (if you don't behave you will go to Hell) who create bondage and sin.

Thus, this objection to eternal security actually produces sin, rather than minimizing it. The apostle Paul understood this very well. He wrote the passage in Romans 8:26-39 precisely for this reason. He wanted to make believers aware of their security in Christ so that they could be free to live for Christ in an unselfish way.

Thus, once-saved-always-saved is a doctrine of the Bible that sets people free from selfishness to live for Christ. It is not a doctrine designed to promote careless godlessness.

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This is article #102.
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