Question #5: How Can A Person Know That They Have Become Lost After They Were Saved?
If as a Christian I can sin so as to “lose my salvation,” just what sin or sins will place me in such danger? Is it possible to know at what point one has committed such a sin, and become lost again? Please be specific and give clear Bible references.
Yes, a person can become lost after having been saved. And, yes, a person can know that they have become lost after having known they were saved. The Bible is literally full of warnings against this very thing. I pointed out several such passages in answering the last question (i.e. Heb. 3:12; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; et. al.).
The Bible is very clear that a saved person can fall away and become lost! Likewise, the Bible is very clear as to when this happens. The same passages that tell us a saved person can become lost also tell us when it happens. Notice:
Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. (Ezekiel 18:23-27).
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. (Hebrews 3:12-15).
“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).
Notice the key words in these passages: turn away, in them (sins), departing, hardened, entangled, overcome. The Holy Spirit did not want us to be confused about the danger of falling away so He used language that would make it very clear when we would be in danger of that sad condition. These are not only action words but they are in the tense of continuing action. One who has: heard the word of God, believed the teaching of Christ and his kingdom, repented of their sins, confessed their belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, been baptized to have their sins washed away, and is striving with all diligence to live the Christian life, is in Christ (Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26, 27). Having done that, they know when they have turned away to live in sin, having departed through a hardened heart to once again become entangled in and overcome by the world. They will not always admit it but they all know that they are not continuing in the truth they learned when they first obeyed the Lord for salvation.
The “question” attempts to make the Christian life look like one of constant fear of being lost. A life lived in dread, rather than rejoicing, because one might be “accidentally” lost. It gives the impression of an “oops, I’m lost” kind of system. Nothing could be further from the truth of God’s word!
Again, here is an attempt to reject the clear teaching of Scripture by the use of false premises. The false premise in this case is in the implication of the “question.” Let me again turn the question into a statement to clarify the real issue. It basically says, “If it is possible for a saved person to become lost then they would always be in doubt about their salvation, being unable to determine or be sure of their spiritual condition.”
However, this is not true. It is possible to know your spiritual condition. Further, anyone who knows the truth doesknow their spiritual condition, whether they accept it or admit to it or not.
The apostle John said that he wrote so that Christians could know they were saved (1 John 5:13). Paul said that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Putting these two passages together shows how the Spirit bears witness with our spirit. He inspired the written word (1 Corinthians 2:13; 2 Peter 1:21) and through the written word instructs us in living the life eternal.
So, how is it that we know we have eternal life, i.e. are children of God? By the evidence of the written word! When we know what the word says about being saved and we know that we have, and are, doing that then we know that we are saved. Likewise, when we know that we are not doing what the word says, we know that we have become lost! Again, anyone who knows what the word says must be done to be saved also knows when they are not doing what the word says!
The “question” asks for specific verses of what sins will cause one to loose their salvation. I could also ask for a specific list of what sins a person can be guilty of and still be saved. What verses would the skeptic provide for me in that case? Where, in the word of God, would he go to show me that a person can be guilty of sin and still be saved? There is no such passage. Rather, he would have to go to Calvin’s “Institutes,” or some other denominational creed book, to find such unscriptural heresy!
How about the black lists of sin found in passages like Romans 1:18-32, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, to name a few? Will those suffice? Each of those passages say that the person guilty of these sins or “such like” will not be saved. Is that specific enough? So, now the once-saved-always-saved heretic will have to answer my question. Where is the passage that says a person can be guilty of these things and still be saved? There is none, no not one!
Does that mean that after one has become a Christian they will never again commit a sin, so as to be lost? No, it does not. Neither does it mean that a Christian’s life is one of fearful doom and dread of “walking on egg shells.” The Christian life is one of rejoicing (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16).
The difference between sinfulness and faithfulness is not sinlessness. The faithful child of God will stumble and sin due to weakness or ignorance but will have the blood of Christ to cleans every sin. On the other hand, the wayward have returned to a lifestyle of sin. There is a huge difference in these two individuals!
John makes this very clear in 1 John 1:8-2:2,
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
Here the apostle says that we deceive ourselves if we think that we never commit any sin. “No sin” means none of any kind. We would essentially be claiming sinless perfection to claim such as John speaks of here. But then he says, since we know that we will stumble at times, we must continually confess or sins and, so doing, God will be faithful to forgive us. The phrase “if we confess” is in the present active subjunctive tense and refers to a continual activity, something that is done continually. If we think we have nothing to repent of and confess to God, asking his forgiveness, then we deceive ourselves.
The next reference to sin is that we have not sinned. Just as one who thinks they never sin is deceiving themselves, one who thinks they have never sinned does even worse. They call God a liar! The Holy Spirit said that all have sinned (Romans 3:23; et. al.). We all need the cleansing blood of Christ and we need it continually.
When John says “that ye sin not” he is referring to a lifestyle of sin. In other words, John wrote so that we might know how to avoid a sinful lifestyle. Then he says that if we do sin we have an Advocate with the Father. The Christian lives with all diligence to be faithful to God, therefore, their lifestyle is not one characterized by sinfulness. However, due to weakness or ignorance, Christians do commit sin. For those walking in the light, the blood of Christ continues to cleans them of every sin (1 John 1:7). Their Advocate with the Father continually shows the price of their sins as having been paid (1 John 2:2).
John also says that there is a sin “not unto death,” which is to be contrasted with the sin that is “unto death (John 5:16).
1 John 5:16, If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
Notice, the sin “not unto death” is to be prayed about and it will be forgiven (“he shall give him life”). However, the sin “unto death” is not to be prayed about. Comparing this with what we have just read in 1 John 1:8-2:2 it becomes clear what the two cases, “unto death” and “not unto death,” are referring to. God is faithful to forgive the sins we confess, confession of course implying repentance. However, if we will not confess our sin then forgiveness will not be asked and life will not be given. The sin unto death is the sin that will not be repented of!
And who is John referring to as the one having the sin “unto death”? A brother! If we see “a brother” sinning, we confront him about his sin, he repents and confesses asking forgiveness then he will be forgiven (cf. Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25). However, if, when we have confronted them about their sin, they refuse to repent then we are not to ask forgiveness for that sin. It has not been repented of and will result in the spiritual destruction of that brother (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5; Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27).
When a person is “walking in the light” they are “giving all diligence” (2 Peter 1:5) to live according to the word of God. When they stumble they will be quick to repent and ask God’s forgiveness for that momentary laps. Praise be his name that is faithful to forgive! (1 John 1:9).
We are saved by God’s grace and mercy (Ephesians 2:8). However, when a person departs from the truth of his word, they stop walking in the light, they no longer have access to that marvelous grace, they have fallen away (Hebrews 6:4-6). As long as they refuse to repent of their sin there is no possibility of their being forgiven.
Here is a question for the “one-saved-always-saved” advocate. If you believe that it is impossible to fall away why would you ever need to repent of anything? Your view requires you to contradict scripture! If you have to repent of anything then that means you would be lost if you didn’t repent. If you have to ask God’s forgiveness for anything then that means you would be lost if you didn’t ask it. So, by your advocating the impossibility of falling away you create a logical contradiction every time you pray for forgiveness. I pray you will repent of your man-made denominational doctrine and be saved.