The most frequent objection to the doctrine of Eternal Security is that it supposedly promotes the idea that Christians can live any way that they want to and still be saved.
Well... To be brutally honest, this is "technically" true. Admitting this may shock some folks, but please hear me out. That simple "technicality" of the overall truth is far, far from the essence of the Blessed Truth we call "Eternal Security." A person who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Savior can live a life characterized by continuous, willful sin, but he or she will not do so, at least not with any kind of impunity. We must draw a distinction between how a Christian should live and what a person must DO in order to receive salvation.
The Bible is abundantly clear that salvation is by Grace Alone, through Faith Alone, in Jesus Christ Alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6).
So... A person is saved by faith and faith alone. Let that sink in.
And while we're at it... let a few other things sink in with it:
1. The moment a person truly believes and trusts in Jesus Christ, they are saved and secure in that salvation. Period.
2. Salvation is not gained by faith, but then maintained by works. I don't care how many impeccably dressed and bejeweled televangelists tell you this, they are wrong. Just plain, dead wrong.
3. The Apostle Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 3:3 when he asks "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?"
4. If we are saved by FAITH in the finished work of JESUS CHRIST ON OUR BEHALF, then our salvation is also maintained and secured by nothing except that finished work!
5. We can not in any way, shape or form EARN our own salvation. Therefore, we can not EARN the maintenance of our salvation either. It is God Almighty who maintains our Salvation (Jude verse 24).
6. According to no less an authority than JESUS Himself, it is God's Own Hand that holds us firmly in His grasp (John 10:28-29).
7. It is said of God's Love that nothing-- NOTHING-- can separate us from it! (Romans 8:38-39).
Any-- and I mean ANY-- denial of Eternal Security is, in its very and deepest essence, a belief that we must maintain our own salvation by our own good works and efforts. Press one of these people about the logical, practical essence of their belief and this will become abundantly clear. Try it some time.
So think about it. Is this not completely antithetical to true Salvation by Grace?
Look, friends... we are saved because of Christ's merits, not our own in any way, shape or form! (Romans 4:3-8).
Further, to claim that we must obey God's Word or live a "godly life" IN ORDER TO maintain our salvation is saying that Jesus' death was not sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. Slice that one any way you want but it is still comes out the same... B. A. D.!
[By the way... I put "godly life" in quotes simply because every one that talks this way has a different and entirely personal "standard" about sins in the first place, which Biblically can range anywhere from oversleeping or gossiping or anger all the way up to lust, adultery and murder. And since ALL sin is sin, how does one make you lose your salvation MORE than another, anyway??]
The Blessed TRUTH is that Jesus' death was absolutely sufficient to pay for all of our sins—past, present, and future, pre-salvation and post-salvation (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
Now... Does this mean that a Christian can live any way they want to and still be saved? Again, technically the answer is... Yes. I am sorry if that offends you, but it's true.
But really... it is at best an essentially hypothetical question, because the Bible makes it clear that a true Christian will not live "any way they want to" without consequences from GOD Himself. And if we're honest about it... Some of us have been there, haven't we?
Christians are called new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). At their best, Christians demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
Now... there is no avoiding that I John 3:6-9 clearly states that a true Christian will not live in continual sin. But personally, comparing scripture with scripture, I actually believe that some Christians have sinned their way to both a shipwreck of their lives (I Timothy 1:19) and ultimately an early death (I Cor. 5:1-5)... and STILL did not lose their salvation. A lot of folks hate it when i say that, but i think the balance of scripture supports this view. This is why that brother who has fallen desperately needs his Christian friends... and not just to preach at him... but to LOVE him with the knowledge that "all flesh is grass." (I Peter 1:24)
Frankly, I know it's a tough doctrine for some folks to take... and in many ways goes against some of our own human logic... but it IS entirely Biblical. His ways are not our ways. If God were as bitter and vindictive as humans are, then certainly He would put us right back on the road to Hell every time we displeased Him. But thankfully, God is not a human!
Are there some apparent problems with this? Perhaps. In response to the accusation that Grace promotes sin, the Apostle Paul declared, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Romans 6:1-2).
But I actually take this scripture within the doctrine of our Eternal Security. It is a actually a very important passage to "our side" of the debate because taken in that overall context it shows clearly that the Eternality of of our salvation is not any kind of "license to sin." When folks say that it is, they really betray something about the way THEY look at God.
Here's a memory for you. I was once taught all about the (entirely biblical) doctrine of the "adoption of sinners in salvation" by a man who completely denied the believer's eternal security. I love that man to this day, but it boggles my mind now to think that he could have so clearly grasped that a saved Christian becomes God's very "son" and "heir" at salvation, and yet still have believed that the same wondrous God would "dis-own" us when we stray from what is right.
I have read Jesus' amazing story of the Prodigal Son dozens of times... and it just gives me an entirely different picture of our Father in Heaven.
No, my friends... I see this doctrine as no license, but rather a beautiful and childlike trust in the foundational and simple security of knowing that God's Love is guaranteed for those whose Trust is in the very Person and Work of Christ. Knowing and understanding God's tremendous GIFT of Salvation actually accomplishes the OPPOSITE of giving a license to sin.
So here's a hard question... why would anyone, knowing the price Jesus Christ paid for us, go on to live a life of sin? Because, quite honestly, this fallen flesh is a powerful enemy to the faith! (Romans 6:15-23) Never forget that the human heart is deceitful and wicked above all things... am I right?
Or we could ask... how could anyone who understands God's unconditional and guaranteed love for those who believe, take that love and throw it back in God's face by willful rebellion?? Well... it is a terrible thing to contemplate, but I believe it happens nonetheless... however... it is still a sin less awesome than God's great Power and Mercy to His children. Praise His Name.
Are there backsliders out here in the world?? And is it a problem??
You better believe it!
But don't get all judgemental and uppity, Brother/Sister... After all it is written, "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall!" (I Cor. 10:12) I think when you get to judging other people's sins, you should always step back and consider your own. If you're honest, you'll find some to consider, too!
People can profess one thing and live another... we've all seen it.
But bottom line?... such a person is demonstrating NOT that Eternal Security has given them a "license to sin," but rather that he or she has EITHER never truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ, or that they are about to be fearfully chastised by their Adopted Father in Heaven... who WILL faithfully chastise his own... mark it down.
Here is where someone always asks: "OK.... so I have someone in my life who professes Christ but I have my doubts about them for such-and-such a reason. How do I know which way it is with them?"
My honest answer? You don't. And frankly, it's not for you you to judge. (Matthew 7:1)
So Love them, either way... and "walk humbly before your God." (Micah 6:8)
You may just need THEIR love and forgiveness someday yourself.