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Salvation: Can a person be certain they are going to Heaven?

Gary Googe Mar 02

Question: How many sins can a Christian commit and still be a Christian? Don’t Christians sin? Sure they do! They should seek to avoid sin. But isn’t it true that Christians have just as much potential or capability to sin as anyone else? I have found that when people get saved, they are somehow prone to think that they won’t sin anymore, or at least not as much.

Like many believers, this is a subject I have often thought about. If you have been a Christian for many years, you have probably known people who you once thought were saved, but sometime later, due to their sinfulness, you were caused to wonder.

Question: Does salvation mean a person stops sinning? Absolutely not! I think experience, as well as what is taught in the Bible, will confirm for you that Christians have just as much potential for sin as anyone.

Question: Does a person have to stop sinning to get saved? Again, absolutely not! If you had to quit sinning to get saved, there is no way any of us could ever get saved. Furthermore, if there were such a requirement, it would mean that salvation comes by works. Yet the Bible is clear that our works during our lifetime have absolutely nothing to do with how salvation is secured or maintained.

Titus 3:5

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; [Emphasis added]

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast.

The very next verse in that passage talks about works. Notice what it says.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Emphasis added]

This passage is letting us know that we have been saved so as to perform good works, works that will even be rewarded of God. However, we are not saved by works. We are saved when we put our faith in THE ONE WORK God has performed for us through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It is by faith in His work that salvation is provided for us. Any works we would perform have nothing whatsoever to do with providing it for us.

Every Christian who has gone before us was guilty of sin, and sometimes to a very great degree. For instance, what are we to think of the Corinthian church the Apostle Paul ministered to in his lifetime? You can hardly name a sin they were not guilty of committing. If you doubt this, read through the book of I Corinthians sometime. But notice how on the front end of his letter Paul makes it clear that these people He is addressing in this letter were “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” He also calls them “saints.”

I Corinthians 1:1-8

Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be [the words “to be” are not found in the original manuscript—the translator wrongly added this] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s:

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Emphasis added]

But notice what Paul says about this same group of people just two chapters later.

I Corinthians 3:1-3

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [Emphasis added]

“Walking as men” and being “carnal” means they have been acting like unbelievers in their conduct. Then throughout the rest of the letter he corrects and rebukes them for their sinfulness in a multitude of areas. Yet these people were just as saved as any Christian.

One of the main reasons people today wonder about their own salvation is that they realize that after they are saved, they still commit sins. But the truth of the matter is that you have never met a Christian who didn’t sin. Some are more obvious about it than others, but ALL Christians sin. No exceptions! They shouldn’t sin, but they do. It is typically those Christians who get tied up in legalistic thinking who question their own salvation when they find themselves committing sins. Of course, they may think similar things about other Christians they find sinning.

Sin is always discouraging. It always has negative consequences of one kind or another. But, sin is something every Christian does to some extent.

When you find that you have sinned, always remind yourself that there isn’t a sin you’ll ever commit that Christ wasn’t judged for. Not one! This means the penalty for it has already been paid in full. You should rejoice over that. You should always give thanks for the complete forgiveness you know you have. Also, the perfect righteousness of Christ has been applied to you. Your standing with God isn’t dependent upon your own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ that is yours forever. Therefore, in no way should you be concerned about eternal condemnation from God in any sort of a way.

Romans 8:1a

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,

There is not a sin of any kind that you could ever commit that will somehow separate you from God and the salvation you possess eternally.

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Another reason people get confused about this is that they don’t realize their salvation is said to be sealed at the point we believe in Christ. This means their salvation is settled and secure forever.

Ephesians 4:30

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. [Emphasis added]

So-called believers during the Old Testament times did not have this sealing of the Spirit. That is why you’ll find verses outside the Apostle Paul’s writings that make this appear otherwise. Unlike your situation, their salvation was not settled till the day they died. Many passages express that (See 22 Key Promises You Can Count On – Chapter 11).

One of the most precious promises about all of this is found in Paul’s last epistle.

II Timothy 2:12-13

12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. [Emphasis added]

The only thing we will ever be denied because of our unfaithfulness will be special rewards to be enjoyed in heaven when we reign with Christ. Meanwhile, God is faithful to keep our salvation secure because we have become one with Christ forever. This means we are completely secure because we are said to be in Christ forever.

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