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May 31, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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At some point or another in our Christian walk, we’ve probably all pondered this. Usually, it comes during a season of remorse, drifting, or on the heels of prodigal living. We wonder, Can God still really love me after what I’ve done? Not after this. This is too much. I have conversed with believers who thought they had crossed a line from which there was no coming back. They truly believed God was done with them, that their eternal security was gone forever. Have you ever felt this way? I have . . .
I felt this way when I was 21. After spending my entire youth in church—attending a Christian school from kindergarten all the way through high school graduation—going to a public university was quite the culture shock for me. It was all sex, drugs, and rock and roll as they say. I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself. I joined a band, started going to parties, drank socially . . . all the while, church and prayer were no longer part of my life, and worship and Bible study were things of the past.
I disconnected completely from the Lord. I had girlfriends who kept pressuring me into having sex, and I eventually did cave in to a girl I thought I was in love with. She ended up cheating on me and breaking up with me a few months later. At that point, I think I broke completely and became someone I soon didn’t recognize and couldn’t even look at in the mirror. In my heart, I kept wanting to get out of the pig slop and come back to my Father’s house, but I thought I’m not worthy to come back. I know the truth; I know the Bible; I know all Jesus did for me. But I still turned my back on Him and went astray. I denied Him for so long. How can He ever accept me back? I am lost for good. I am resigned to the darkness.
After a few months of thinking like that, my sister called me over to her house. She sat me down to remind me of who the Lord is and who I am in Him. God used that conversation to wake me up to the fact that the enemy had been whispering LIES in my ear about my status in His eyes. He showed me that even though I had turned away, He had never left my side. He was there with me in the muck; He was there with me in the pit of despair. Like the father in the Parable of the Lost Son, He was waiting patiently for me to simply turn around. And when I did, I knew His arms were wrapped tightly around me. I could feel His embrace and His comfort. All my doubts melted away, my guilt and shame lifted, and my burden of pain and brokenness lightened.
Why am I sharing my story? Because I want you to know that I have been there. I wondered if I had disqualified myself from the grace of God and lost salvation. I wondered if the Holy Spirit had left me for good. If that’s you, I want to talk to you today. I want to share the truth of the Word and dispel the deceitful whispers of the devil.
The Great Lie
Charles Spurgeon posed this question: “’If Christ had intended to cast us away because of our sins, why did he ever take us on?’ If he had meant to cast you away he would have done so long ago. If he wanted reasons for rejecting you he had reasons from all eternity, for he knew what you would be. No sin in you has been a surprise to him."
Think about that for a minute . . . If there was ever a scenario, a sin, or even a prolonged season of sin that would lead Christ to cast a believer away, then why did He go to the cross? Why did He suffer and die for us? His entire life and work here on earth would be meaningless. Why? Because every single one of us will, at some point in our walk as Christians, stray and fall. We will find ourselves drifting from Him and into the world. So, ask yourself, why would Christ even bother if we’re all just going to blow it?
He wouldn’t! The view that you or I could lose the salvation we received from God through Christ is built upon a lie from Satan. This is the first thing we need to remember as it pertains to our salvation and eternal security in Christ. This lie is meant to subdue us from experiencing all that God has for us, from accomplishing the work God has prepared in advance for us to do, and from fulfilling the Great Commission. Think about it: If you have an entire world full of believers who believe they’ve lost their salvation, who is left to preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations?
It’s a lie. And the foundation of the lie is centered on our ego. Despite being devastating to the believer, it actually appeals to our human self-centeredness. You see, this lie leads us to believe that, even though the Word tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9 NIV), that the preservation and continued status of our salvation and eternal security now depends on us. The idea that one can lose their salvation is thus rooted in legalism, in the notion that God’s grace, given to us by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, is only enough to get us started, we then need to complete the work of remaining saved through our works.
So, which is it? Is the grace of God through the payment made by Christ at the cross enough to cover our sins once and for all (Hebrews 10:1–18) or is it not enough? Do you believe “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV) or do you carry it out to completion?
Billy Graham once said, “When we come to Christ, He comes to live within us by His Spirit—and He will never depart from us. And when we come to Him, God adopts us into His family and we become His children—and He’ll never disown us or disinherit us. If He did reject us, it would mean our salvation depends on how good we are. But we can never be good enough, for God’s standard is perfection. Our salvation depends solely on Christ, Who died to take away all our sins.”
Ephesians 1:13 (NIV) says, “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 5:17–19 (ESV) says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” We died to the old life, it’s gone, buried. We can’t be resurrected to that old life. Instead, we are raised to walk in new life with the Spirit.
Jesus said, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20 NIV). He didn’t say, “I am with you until you mess up so badly that I leave you.” In Romans 8:35–39 (NIV), Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Nothing! Because, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, there’s only one thing left to determine . . .
Did You Ask the Right Question?
So often, people wonder if they can lose their salvation. But the questions they must truly ask in their own hearts are these: Have I ever truly repented and surrendered my life to Jesus? Have I ever received His salvation?
Billy Graham continued, “Only God knows if someone has truly and sincerely repented of their sins and given their life to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but if they have, they now belong to Him forever, and their salvation is secure.
“Does this mean it doesn’t matter how we live? Absolutely not! If we live sinful lives, it may well mean that we haven’t given ourselves to Christ after all, and we’ve even deceived ourselves into thinking we are saved when we really aren’t. The Bible warns, ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead’ (James 2:26).
“Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, both as your Savior and as your Lord. Then thank Him that you now belong to Him forever—and ask Him to help you live a life that reflects His love and purity every day.”
Today, if you’re struggling with this issue, or you know someone who is struggling with it, I want you to experience true rest and security! If you are truly saved, if you know in your heart of hearts that you have given your life to Christ, then nothing can separate you from His love and grace. Nothing can take your salvation away. Shortcomings, failings, seasons of straying won’t disqualify you. Come back! Turn around. Seek His forgiveness and restoration. He is waiting with arms wide open. Walk in His freedom; don’t continue to put on broken chains.
If you’re asking because you fell into a season of prodigal living or because you did something and now you feel completely unworthy of the salvation you received and you’re questioning how God can still love and accept you, just remember that when He sees you, He sees Jesus! Remember that Jesus is enough—it’s not by your works, but by the work of Jesus that you are saved. Remember that nothing you do can separate you from His love, which was poured out on the cross. And remember that though sin may interrupt our communion (closeness) with God, it can never break our union as His children.
When we truly repent, we find satisfaction in an increasing closeness with the Lord, not our sin. It may take a season for this to sink in, and we may even forget for a season—like the prodigal and like my time at college—but every season eventually comes to an end and God can use these times in our life to do some amazing work in us and through us.
If you’re looking for a security blanket to engage in sinfulness, then you must truly ask yourself if you’ve ever truly been saved. A believer should be moved by the Spirit of God, by the work of Christ, and by the love of Christ to live and walk in obedience and devotion. A believer should feel deep conviction over sin. It’s a daily race, a daily battle, a daily decision to die to self and live for God. Sometimes, it’s a struggle. Sometimes, we lose some battles, but the war is won and the victory has been attained. So again, if you’re asking this question because you want to know you can “enjoy” the sinful ways of the world and still be saved, then I encourage you to do some serious soul searching. If you want to have your cake and eat it, too, then you need to wonder if you’re asking the right question.
If you have questions, please e-mail me at DanielS@CalvaryFTL.org.