Q. I have accepted Christ as my Savior but am having trouble with the view that I can continue to commit adultery, to steal, murder or whatever and be in heaven with him. Was his death a licence for me to be able to do all these things and be saved or can his spirit live his life through me and I stop doing these sinful things? Or either way I go I am saved?
A. Our salvation is based on belief, not behavior, but I don’t know of any truly born again believers who think they now have a license to sin. What we have is the security of knowing that when we do sin (and as long as we’re in our natural states we will) we’re not risking the loss of our salvation.
Over and over we’re admonished to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and change our behavior as a sign of our gratitude for what we’ve been freely given. This is what Paul meant by encouraging us to live up to what we’ve already attained (Phil 3:16).
Our behavioral changes please the Lord and so He blesses us with His favor and gifts of all kinds. If we don’t follow the Spirit’s guidance we’re both communicating our ingratitude and disqualifying ourselves for these additional blessings. This explains why so many Christians live defeated fruitless lives. But since our salvation was extended as a free gift conditioned only on our faith to receive it (Ephes. 2:8-9), we’re saved either way.