Q. Your articles on eternal security were such a blessing to me. I am still wrestling w/ some vital concerns however. You stated in several of your articles the believer’s behavior will not negate his or her salvation. But there are several verses in 1 John which seem to indicate to the contrary. For instance, chapter3 vs:9 says anyone born of God will not continue to sin because God’s seed remains in him , he cannot continue to sin! There are several others as well.
Coming out of a denomination that stressed grace/ works and struggling w/ sin as a believer, I want w/all my heart to embrace what you’re teaching! My sanity and marriage depend on it. Please keep serving our precious Lord by helping to liberate multitudes in bondage to legalism and rules and commandments taught by men!
A. Let’s apply some simple logic here. Consider these two points.
1. If the believer’s security is not eternal, how can God guarantee our inheritance from the moment we first believed in places like Ephesians 1:13-14, and claim that it’s He who makes us stand firm in 2 Cor. 1:21 and then repeat the promise of Ephesians 1 in the very next verse? And how can he claim that once He has his hands on us then no one can snatch us away from Him? (John 10:27-29)
2. Almost everyone agrees that John wrote his letters to believers, in other words people who are already saved. How can John tell believers in 1 John 1:8-10 that if we claim we haven’t sinned then we’re liars and make Jesus out to be a liar too, then promise us that if we’ll just confess our sins, God is faithful and will purify us from all unrighteousness, and then 2 chapters later say that no one born of God continues to sin?
And how can John teach that believers will no longer sin, when Paul spent most of a chapter lamenting the fact that no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t stop sinning, in fact the harder he tried, the worse he became? (Romans 7:7-25) and then tell us that because of Jesus, man is no longer condemned for his sins, that we’ve been set free from the law of sin and death, and nothing can separate us from God’s love? (Romans 8:1, 38-39) Was John implying that Paul wasn’t saved?
And where is the man or woman from any period in history who having become a believer never sinned again? Have we all been forced to forfeit our salvation? Because we’re all sinners. Everyone of us.
Simple logic tells us that John had to be talking about a particular sin, not sin in general. And that’s exactly the case. His letters were written as a warning against Gnosticism, one of the most dangerous heresies in the early church. It held that salvation didn’t come from faith but from the acquisition of secret knowledge. It also argued that if Jesus was God, he couldn’t have been a man, and if He was a man then He couldn’t have been God. 1 John 1:1, 2:22, & 4:2-3 address this issue specifically. Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, and 2 Peter also speak against this early heresy. And it’s still here. Freemasonry, the New Age and Scientology are all re-packaged forms of 1st Century Gnosticism.
You have rightly called the denial of Eternal Security a form of bondage. What it takes for us to break this bondage is to use our powers of reason and logic to see the contradiction it presents. We have to ask ourselves if we really believe that God endured the most horrible death ever devised only to present us with a new set of even more impossible conditions for attaining eternal life. The Old Testament condemned men for their deeds, but the New Testament condemns us for our thoughts.
The proponents of conditional security have either had to surrender their own salvation or somehow exempt themselves from its conditions. Because if 1 John 3:9 has general application here’s what’s required to obey it . No anger, ever. No lust, ever. No envy, ever. No idolatry, ever. No favoritism or discrimination, ever. No impure thoughts or deeds of any kind, ever. (Matt.5, James 2) As John said, the man who claims he’s never done any of these things is a liar. But it gets worse. Slip up once and you’re out forever. (James 2:10) Is this the Good News, the incomparable riches of His Grace? I can’t believe so.