Is there anything to be gained by arguing with those who insist that you must keep the commandments to be saved?…What does the Bible say?
The most joyous aspect of a walk with God is the sublime assurance that our salvation is irrevocable, permanent, a precious gift that cannot be taken from us: Period. The old man of flesh with whom we must contend while in these bodies cannot throw it away or get us condemned because of his actions. Nothing can withstand God’s power to save us. There is not a single thing that we either must do or can do to make ourselves more acceptable to God because when the Father looks at us, he sees nothing but the righteousness of His only begotten Son. By the same token, there is nothing that we can do to make ourselves unacceptable to God.
That last statement is at the crux of this issue and will provoke a fiery attack from legalists any time a believer voices it in their presence, or in a video, or writes it in an article.
One of the issues that is most hotly contended in Christian circles is that of our eternal security; that once we are saved, we are saved irrevocably. We can feel vulnerable to such attacks because our adoption by God will not be complete until we receive our resurrection bodies. Imagine having the same argument if you were standing there in your glorious new body.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. 23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.” Rom 8:22-23 WEB (Emphasis added)
Because of that, the enemy taunts us with lies, either directly in the tangle of our minds or through Pharisaic human agents, confronting us and denying the permanence of our salvation. He reasons with us that the willful sins committed by our old man of flesh derail our relationship with God, and until/unless we repent and change our ways…again… we are lost.
So, how can we silence these lies challenging the promises of God and the permanence of our salvation? Please pay close attention here…We can’t. The voice of Satan will not be silenced until he is cast into the bottomless pit for a thousand years at the second coming of Christ. Those who mock our salvation and deny the power of God to save us will not be silenced until their conversion or the judgment. Neither this article, nor a hundred others I could write will silence the lies of Satan.
What I offer are words of comfort and encouragement to those who are truly converted; truly saved. I would also advise that contending with those who have refused to accept that wonderful gift is not just a waste of time but will subject the believer to unwarranted and unnecessary assaults. Those in opposition have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Here is what the Apostle Paul counseled regarding engaging in these unfruitful contentious arguments:
“3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting over questions and disputes of words, out of which comes envy, strife, railings, evil suspicions, 5 Perverse wranglings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself.” 1 Tim 6:3-5 WEB (emphasis added)
I can’t say it any plainer than Paul did; “from such, withdraw yourself”. Paul was not only speaking by inspiration from the Holy Spirit, but from a wealth of experience of fruitless arguments with actual Pharisees. Resist the powerful temptation to defend yourself and the word of God. Just walk away because nothing of value can be achieved by arguing with Pharisees. To this, I would add the admonition of our Lord who also warned us about engaging in such arguments:
6 “Don’t give that which is holy to the dogs, neither throw your pearls before the pigs, lest perhaps they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” Mat 7:6 WEB
It is important that you recognize the true nature of those with whom you are dealing when engaging in these arguments. Here is another gem from Paul:
“But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, not lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5 holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Turn away from these, also.” 2 Tim 3:1-5 WEB
Paul is not speaking of those openly sneering at God here, but of those claiming a relationship with God while at the same time denying His power to save us. This is the apostate church that he is describing; the phony Babylonian religion masquerading as true worship in edifices like cathedrals, mosques, many megachurches, and a thousand other settings. False religion was born when Cain substituted produce for the blood offering that God had required. It continues in every setting where man decides what he will render to God, and which god he will serve.
The power of God as it is most widely manifested in the Earth today is the power to save sinners. It is that power that the mockers deny.
I could go on and on, urging the believer to avoid arguments with those who are not seeking salvation but attacking sound doctrine. One more gem from the word of God should convince you though:
“18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are dying, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
I will bring the discernment of the discerning to nothing.” 1Cor 1:18 WEB
Let God deal with the mockers and the nay-sayers. Leave them in His hands. Focus your energies and the ministry that God has given you on those with an openness to hear the truth; those who thirst for the water of life. There is a mystery of Godliness; a miraculous, unseen wooing that leads to salvation. The profession of faith is all that is required of the believer, and know this: We didn’t get here on our own. All conversions are initiated by God the Father in those whom, through His foreknowledge, He knows will accept the call to salvation.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up in the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who hears from the Father, and has learned, comes to me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except he who is from God. He has seen the Father. 47 Most certainly, I tell you, he who believes in me has eternal life.” John 6:44-47 WEB (Emphasis added)
It is through this mysterious Godly conversion that true repentance comes. Jesus is the alpha and the omega. He is the author and the finisher of our faith. Often the romance of true conversion is ignored. It is a love story; the story of a prodigal son being welcomed into the arms of a joyous Father, from whose hands,
no power in Heaven or on Earth can pluck the believer. It is the story of a Shepherd searching for His lost sheep, and rejoicing when He has found it. Once He has us, nothing can tear us away, not even our sins.
What I offer here are words of comfort to the believer. I believe that by looking to the word of God and answering two basic questions, the truth will shine forth. Just what are those basic questions?
1 How do/did we become saved?
2 Can that salvation ever be taken away from us, or can we willfully reject it?
How do/did we become saved? The answer to question #1 is simple and clear:
“The word is near you, in your mouth, and in your heart”; that is, the word of faith, which we preach: 9 that if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be disappointed.” Rom 10:9-11 WEB (Emphasis added)
A simple profession of faith in Jesus as the Lord of your life combined with a sincere acceptance in your heart that God raised Him from the dead has it completely covered. For a practical demonstration of this truth, we need only to look to Jesus and His exchange with one of the men who were crucified next to Him:
“One of the criminals who was hanged insulted him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us!”
40 But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Don’t you even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 He said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
43 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:39-43 WEB
Right there… the thief confessed his belief that Jesus was Lord; the Messiah who had come preaching the Kingdom of Heaven. Was there something special about this sinner that got him through the door into paradise with the Lord, or is the path to salvation just that simple for each of us?
It is through His promises which are the basis of our relationship with God that we are informed about what He expects of us and what we can expect from Him. Did the Lord explain to the thief that He was making some kind of exception for him, or was his faith in Jesus accounted to Him for righteousness?
The answer is obvious. The Lord knew that He and the thief would die that day and that the man’s profession of faith qualified him for eternal salvation, despite the absence of any good works or opportunity to improve himself.
The book of Romans, perhaps more than any other book, lays out the complete legal argument that establishes beyond any question the security of every believer who has accepted the free gift of salvation that never can come through works, but only through the washing in the blood of Christ. On that basis, we can never be lost because at the point of justification by faith, all of our works become irrelevant. While we were yet sinners, while we were still ungodly, we were given the gift of salvation; accounted righteous by God!
Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. Because this occurred some time before he was circumcised, Abraham is the father of all believers; both Jew and Gentile. God made him the father of many nations, not just the nation of Israel. (Romans 4:17) Abraham’s circumcision, like baptism for the Christian was a mere sign of his faith in God, not a condition of his salvation. Please, read the book of Romans if you doubt this in any way.
The passage from Romans 10 is not the only one in scripture that illuminates the path to salvation. There are many, and every believer seems to have their favorite; the one that resounded in their heart through the power of the Holy Spirit and opened the door to salvation.
Can our salvation ever be taken away from us? Can we ever lose it or be robbed of it? Is there any passage in scripture that delineates an obligation laid on the sinner to keep that gift of salvation? What did the Lord say?
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30 WEB (Emphasis added)
Jesus sounds pretty confident there about the safety of His sheep. Tell me, do you see the word “unless” anywhere in that passage? Further, doesn’t the term “No one” include the sinner himself? Can the man of sin; the flesh, against whom the believer struggles, snatch that person out of the Father’s hand? I’d like to see him try.
Some explanation about the dual nature of saved humans while still in their mortal bodies will help to settle these questions.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away. Behold, all things have become new.” 2 Cor 5:17 WEB
The believer, while living on Earth has a dual nature. One part, the man of flesh that is dying, is what the Apostle Paul refers to as the “old man”. The other part, the new creation is that child of God growing within us; that spiritual being that is sinless and will be adopted as a son of God when transformed and given a resurrection body at the Rapture.
“…knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Rom 6:6-7 WEB (Emphasis added)
It is the new creation that has died with Christ and been “freed from sin“. Subduing, and ultimately doing away with the old man of flesh is a major part of the work of Sanctification which is performed by the power of God in us by the Holy Spirit. We have died and he is dying. We are powerless to overcome him on our own, but we can help to put him away and deprive him of those things which sustain him.
As the man of flesh dies, the new creation emerges and predominates. The righteous works which result are a product of the righteousness which has been worked in us through the power of the Holy Spirit, not something we manufacture in our flesh. We begin to act like sheep because we are becoming sheep.
Our righteous works are very real, and by their nature, eternal:
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns! 7 Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let us give the glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.” 8 It was given to her that she would array herself in bright, pure, fine linen: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” Rev 19:6-8 WEB (Emphasis added)
Those righteous acts are tangible in the spirit realm, and eternal by their nature. In the same way that the nakedness of Adam and Eve was revealed when they sinned, the righteous acts of the saints become their covering. What other clues do we have about the nature of sinful acts and truly righteous works?
“11 For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; 13 each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. 14 If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.” 1Cor 3:11 WEB (Emphasis added)
See there? Even if the believer’s works prove to be sinful products of the flesh, “he himself will be saved”. Also notice that this is the only judgment that believers are subjected to; an evaluation of their works which either earn them eternal rewards or are consumed. Their works alone are judged; they themselves cannot be because they are hidden in God with Christ:
3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore your members which are on the earth: sexual immorality, uncleanness, depraved passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry; 6 for which things’ sake the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. 7 You also once walked in those, when you lived in them; 8 but now you also put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and shameful speaking out of your mouth. 9 Don’t lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his doings, 10 and have put on the new man, who is being renewed in knowledge after the image of his Creator” Col 3:3-10
I included the laundry list of sins here to illustrate the dual natures at war within the believer. Here again, the new creation grows and matures as we feed it. All of the sins listed here are attributed to the “old man” who is slowly dying. Though we can speed our growth by putting off the things of the flesh, we are not condemned for them.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Rom 8:1 WEB (Emphasis added)
Paul also distinguishes here between those who are saved and “the children of disobedience”. You are not in that group. You do not become a member of that group when your old man sins.
“Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1Cor 6:19-20 WEB (Emphasis added)
You have been bought with a price, and you stay bought. Your only obligation is to believe the promises of God, and that for your growth and fellowship with God, because your salvation is an accomplished fact.
Further, the Holy Spirit indwells you; is sealed to you. Will you then buy the lie that He gets kicked out every time you sin? What tenant would put up with that? Certainly not God Almighty! We are His possession. He is our homeowner, not a renter.
Wait a minute though. Where does repentance come into the picture? Is it a prerequisite for salvation? Is it one of those works that supposedly earn us salvation? Here is a clue to the answer:
“For godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation, which brings no regret. But the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For behold, this same thing, that you were made sorry in a godly way, what earnest care it worked in you….” 2 Cor 7:10-11 WEB (Emphasis added)
The key words in this passage are “godly sorrow”. This takes us back to God the Father as the initiator of our faith; The One who teaches us and draws us to Christ. We, in our flesh are incapable of godly sorrow, but it is that godly sorrow that brings salvation. Repentance must therefore be a product of the work of salvation, not a requirement. In reality, repentance becomes a frequent part of the ongoing conversation that a believer carries on with the Savior as they go about His daily business.
We can always dispel the clouds of lies that come to obscure truth by going back to the foundation of our faith given in scripture. Jesus’ death opened the door to a dispensation of grace. When Jesus ascended back to Heaven, He was in the process of establishing the Church. He had instructed the disciples to sit tight there in Jerusalem until the Comforter arrived.
That baptism of the Holy Spirit promised by the Redeemer was a key event in the foundation of the Church, and some other things occurred which were not documented until years later in the writings of Paul. Stick with me here, I’m showing you the foundation of The Church. As you read it, look for any requirement placed on the sinner by Jesus for keeping our salvation:
“But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Therefore he says, “When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” 9 Now this, “He ascended”, what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.
11 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; 12 for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ; 16 from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.” Eph 4:7-16
If you are ever tempted to doubt the permanence of your salvation, your assurance can be found here. At the very top, “he led captivity captive”, what does that mean? What captivity? It is the captivity of sin, death, and the law which held man in its deadly grip until Jesus died to deliver all mankind. That issue was then settled for anyone who accepted that gift of salvation.
The focus of the rest of that passage is on growth and maturity, in love. There is no need for an ongoing struggle by the believer to maintain his salvation. Of course, we are buffeted by the assaults of the enemy, but they do not threaten our salvation. Satan’s assaults always backfire on him because they only serve to promote our growth. The emphasis in the passage is on growth and maturity, not salvation.
Jesus has made a provision in the work of saving us to deal with the sins that we continue to commit as we are growing up into “the stature of the fullness of Christ”.
“But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. 25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them.“ HEB 7:24-25 WEB (Emphasis added)
Through this process, Jesus, by pleading his blood before the Father, continues to take away our sins as He maintains our salvation. He is able to save to the uttermost! Praise God that it does not require that we perform in the flesh, struggling against our man of sin, because that is always a losing battle.
The Holy Spirit dwelling inside of you is the guarantee of your salvation. He is sealed to you and will never depart.
“21 Now he who establishes us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; 22 who also sealed us, and gave us the down payment of the Spirit in our hearts.” 2 Cor 1:21-22
Ever notice that phrase in Revelation 22:17 “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”? I believe that is an indication that God, through the Holy Spirit continues to indwell His Church, the Lamb’s Bride, for eternity. What do you think?
Paul warned about the problem of agents of Satan whom had come to replace the Gospel of salvation with a “different gospel”; a gospel of works:
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 6 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” Gal 1:6-9 WEB (Emphasis added)
Called “by the grace of Christ” refers to the true Gospel. “Grace” is the key word. By contrast, the contrary gospel of which Paul warned, that legalistic works theology wherein the believer is required to strive in his flesh for sinlessness comes in more than 31 flavors. Satan attempts relentlessly to sneak it into the thinking of believers in Jesus, over whom the law of Moses no longer has any power.
The call to make yourself “Rapture-ready” is one such sneaky lie. You were Rapture-ready the instant you accepted Jesus. The false gospel is always some combination of faith plus works.
“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Cor 15:56 WEB (Emphasis added)
“…your labor is not in vain in the Lord”. Paul is here referring to the truly righteous works which we walk in as sons of God. Those righteous works were prepared for us by God:
“10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before that we would walk in them.” Eph 2:10 WEB (Emphasis added)
“For through the law comes the knowledge of sin. 21 But now apart from the law, a righteousness of God has been revealed, being testified by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all those who believe. For there is no distinction, 23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God sent to be an atoning sacrifice, through faith in his blood, for a demonstration of his righteousness through the passing over of prior sins, in God’s forbearance; 26 to demonstrate his righteousness at this present time; that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him who has faith in Jesus.” Rom 3:20-26 WEB (Emphasis added)
The truth is that if our salvation relies on our performance, it isn’t permanent. If it is a gift, purchased by the blood of Christ and given freely to those whom believe, it can never be taken away or thrown away. The claim by critics that we think we can sin all we want and still be saved is true. What they miss is that with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the call to repentance is constant, and the desire to sin withers as the old man dies.
The work of sanctification is akin to transforming wolves into sheep. As we become sheep, the assurance that we can kill and eat all of the chickens we want increasingly has no appeal to us. Killing chickens is no longer a part of our nature.
We can sin all we want to. The difference between us and those who attack us is that, increasingly, we don’t want to. That change of heart is a product of the work of sanctification. The unsaved cannot imagine how we feel. They are like the brother of the prodigal son; outraged at our acceptance by the Father in spite of our sin. They don’t know what it’s like to be forgiven or feel the power of the Holy Spirit within their hearts, calling them to repentance.
Pray for them. Do not argue with them. Silence the constant lies of Satan in your own heart by resting on the promises of God. You are saved irrevocably, and the enemy hates that.
Salvation is not an end point for the believer, but the first step through an open door to a relationship with the Lord that becomes increasingly joyous as well as intimate. It is also the beginning of your maturation as you grow up into Him and become His servant. Forget about the pointless wrangling over your salvation, we have work to do.
We have been given the precious gift of eternal life, the cost of which was the crucifixion of our Lord. He freely gave us that gift. He loves us passionately, and He will never take it away.
If you find it difficult to accept that people you have looked up to and respected all your life have not truly accepted the free gift of salvation, you’re not alone. For further discussion about this, check out a letter I wrote to a dear sister who was struggling with this very thing: Big Religious Families
- Adapted from #91237724/Jankovoy-adobe stock.com
- #89816953/beeboy-adobe stock.com
- Adapted from #62898769/SFIO CRACHO-adobe stock.com
- Adapted from #199193957/Michael Eichammer-adobe stock.com
- #165713982/justesfir-adobe stock.com
- Don’t Mess With Israel by Greg Lauer @alittlestrength.com