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Is once saved always saved biblical?

A common misconception circulating in the churches is that once you have been saved, you will be saved forever and cannot lose your salvation. To put it short: If you have once accepted the truth and nevertheless violate the will of God, you will still be saved. But is this belief biblical? What does the Bible say about that?

And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (Exodus 32:33)

Whoever has been saved once no longer lives according to the flesh

The first problem that arises with this theory is that it’s not biblical that a person remains sinful after being born again. The following Bible passage clearly shows that someone who has been saved and therefore received the Spirit of God no longer lives according to the flesh.

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Peter 4:1-6)

There is one other possibility left. That takes effect when a person accepts the sacrifice of Jesus and receives the Spirit of God, but denies its authority and decides to continue to live according to their flesh. Paul explains in the following Bible verse what the consequence of such behavior is.

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. (Romans 8:12-13)

So when Paul says that we are no longer under law but under grace, he means that people who have been saved and are guided by God himself, no longer need the law because they are no longer sinners but saints. For there is no law imposed on the righteous, but on the wicked.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18)

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (1 Timothy 1:8-10)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. (Romans 6:14-15)

If you want to learn more about what Paul actually taught, read the following article: No longer under law, but under grace – What Did Paul Teach?

If we willingly sin after we have been saved, there is no sacrafice left for us

The following Bible verse could not be any clearer. For there is written that someone who has been saved through the sacrifice of Jesus and yet chooses to sin, will be punished even more severely than if he had been condemned by the law. It is also interesting that Jesus says that every sin can be forgiven, except that of blasphemy of the Spirit. To make it clear: This is when the Spirit of God instructs you to say or do something and you willingly disobey.

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. (Matthew 12:31-32)

Here we see another Bible passage that particularly shows that new life and sin don’t fit together. It says that someone who sins has not seen, let alone known, Jesus.

And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (1 John 3:3-10)

Anyone who has been saved once and then turns away from the truth will be worse off than before

Chapter 2 Peter 2 in the Bible describes very extensively how people end up who have been saved once and then turn back to their old nature.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. (2 Peter 2:17-19)

Biblically such people will be worse off than before. The Bible even says that it would have been better for them when they wouldn’t have known the truth. It is highly recommendable to read the entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 yourself if you want to gain more knowledge about this topic.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:20-22)

Jesus himself also confirmed this fact very thoroughly in John’s Gospel when he showed grace to the adulteress and then advised her not to sin any further. He also told the man at the pool of Bethesda, whom he had healed from his sickness, that he should no longer sin, otherwise he would be worse off than before.

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11)

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (John 5:14)

Once you are saved, you are a member of Jesus body as long as you don’t get cut off due to fruitlessness

Those who are born of God become a member of Jesus’ body. Everyone who has been saved belongs to it. But Paul also warned us to not make members of an harlot out of it.

Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. (1 Corinthians 6:15)

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)

In the following passage, Jesus taught in a parable that one should cut off the limbs that entice you to sin. This is a reference to the congregation, which biblically will be baptized into him and thus become his members.

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:8-9)

In another parable, Jesus also said that he is the vine and we are the branches and that every vine that does not bear fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire. This means that whoever receives the Spirit of God and still continues sinning willingly will be cut off from the vine. So it clearly is possible to lose your salvation.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1-2)

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:6)

Once saved, always saved? Conclusion

The answer to whether you stay saved even if you continue to live in sin is fairly clear in the Bible. It is very likely that someone who continues to live according to the flesh, never has been saved in the first place. But if someone receives the Spirit of God and despises his power and continues to live according to his old nature, he will be condemned by God like the Bible tells us.

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:20-22)

The statement “once saved always saved” is therefore not biblical. It is possible to lose your salvation if you don’t obey the will of God. Everyone who calls himself a follower of Jesus is also obliged to walk like him.

He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. (1 John 2:6)

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)

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