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Jul 30 2012

Eternal Security, a License to Sin?


One of the most heated controversies in Christianity  has to do with  Eternal Security, or whether it is possible for someone who is saved to lose their salvation. The aim of this post is not to debate eternal security, but rather to address one of the arguments raised against it by people who believe that Christians can lose their salvation.

The argument generally sounds something like this…….

“If Christians believe that their salvation is eternally secure, it gives them a license to sin.”


Romans 8:38-39 — For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I  believe in eternal security for those saved by faith in Christ because that’s what I find in God’s Word, but when I come across this particular “license to sin” argument, the best way I can describe my reaction is to liken it to a dog turning its head sideways at something it can’t quite understand.

Since I do believe that *nothing* can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, then according to this argument, I guess I must have a license to sin.According to the Bible, however, God has never issued me a license to sin.

Romans 6:15 —  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!

So why is it that many believe that a Christian who believes in eternal security will sin licentiously and without restraint?

2Corinthians 5:17 — So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!

The only answer I can come up with is that they don’t understand and/or have not experienced becoming a new creation through Christ.

A born-again Christian has a new heart that seeks to follow the ways of God as opposed to following the old sinful nature.  It’s this change in a believer’s heart that makes the “license to sin” argument completely irrelevant in the lives of born-again Christians.

The Christian who is a new creation in Christ hates sin, and the closer Christians draw to God, grow in knowledge of Him, and deepen their relationship with Him, the more they will hate sin, as God hates sin infinitely more than we do..

For the sake of this argument, we can play devil’s advocate and pretend that Christians actually do have a license to sin.  If that were true, of what use would this license be to the Christian?  Of what good would it be?  It would be the same as being issued a license to drink poison, because sin is poison to a Christian’s life.

What good would it do a Christian to have a license to sin when their heart is set on following God?

All Christians struggle with sin and sometimes fail.  When we fail, God allows us to experience the negative consequences of sin in our lives.  These lessons are never pleasant, but they teach us that the promises of Satan are lies, because he is the father of lies, and sin can never deliver what it promises.

A believer’s heart and mind are guided by the Holy Spirit, and that is where the Christian’s restraint comes from, not from being afraid of losing our salvation.  In fact, the knowledge that our salvation is secure is something that allows us to serve and obey God in joy, as opposed to obeying Him out of fear of condemnation.

Romans 6:18 — and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

Slaves to righteousness?  That doesn’t sound very joyful.

Romans 6:19 — (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.)

I very much appreciate Paul clarifying that, because human slavery has very negative connotation that makes the phrase “slave to God” sound like something less than joyful.

Being a slave to God, however, is joyous beyond human expression because God is an infinitely loving and just Master. Through Jesus, He has set sinners like me free from sin and from spending our eternity in hell.

Rather than providing Christians with a license to sin, God’s eternal grace and forgiveness through Jesus’ atoning death frees believers from being slaves to sin.

I believe that if we look for it, God provides lessons and application in everything, and one application of this topic in my life is to ask myself, “am I abusing God’s grace?”  I ask myself that not to question my salvation, but because Jesus gave His life and died on the cross for me so that I can have eternal life.  Jesus died so that I could live, and that is not something to take license with or abuse.

John 3:16-18 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.


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  1. Tishrei

    What an excellent teaching. I have a hard time understanding the sentiment or argument that if we believe we are eternally secure, we now feel we have a license to sin. In fact, it is just the opposite. In fact, your statement of playing the devil’s advocate is a really good one. Christians don’t want to sin because they are a new creature and have a new nature that makes the NOT to want to sin. That doesn’t mean a Christian does not fall but as you said, “God’s eternal grace and forgiveness through Jesus’ atoning death frees believers from being slaves to sin.”

    Also, a true Christian know that each time we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit and we will not take the freedom that Christ died and use it as some license to sin. Any person who states they are a Christian and has the mindset of “whew, I now can sin to my heart’s content because I have a ‘get out of hell ticket’” is not a person who is redeemed with a new nature.

    Thanks for posting this :)

    1. Ed

      I appreciate your comments Tishrei!

      I agree that until a person fully realizes the sacrifice Jesus made
      for us, the idea of serving Him out of gratitude and obligation
      instead of fear of condemnation is difficult, if not impossible, to

      If someone jumped on top of a hand grenade to save us, I would hope
      that we would feel indebted to them, and Jesus’ sacrifice was far greater
      than that, but this truth, and the magnitude of His sacrifice has to travel
      from our intellect to our hearts before we begin to understand.

  2. gary

    Don’t you think that it is a problem that there is no evidence in the Early Christian Church of the belief that “once saved, always saved”? In fact, quite the opposite. There are plenty of early Christian pastors and theologians in the first three to four centuries AD who warn Christians not to be complacent in their faith and live a life of willful sin…lest they perish to eternal damnation.

    I grew up evangelical. I witnessed many persons pray the Sinner’s Prayer or go forward during an Altar Call and make what seemed to be very genuine professions of faith. These people then went on to witness to others about salvation through faith in Christ, attend Church and prayer meetings, etc. for a number of years.

    They NOW never darken a church door or read a Bible. One person has converted to be a Muslim to marry her Arab husband, completely abandoning the Christian faith. I know of others who became murderers and child molesters and are unrepentant. I know others who are now living lives of sexual immorality and believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.

    Do you really believe that if one of these former believers dies…he or she will go to heaven???

    I know one Lutheran mother who’s daughter became an evangelical and had a “born again” experience. A short time later the daughter started living with her boyfriend. Her mother warned her that what she was doing is sin, and that ongoing willful sin against God places her salvation in jeopardy. The daughter replied, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do. Lutherans are wrong.”

    Neither infant baptism nor an adult “born again” experience is a “Get-into-heaven-free” card! Salvation only occurs by the grace of God, received through faith. No faith, no salvation.

    The Christian whose faith and trust is in the Lord need never worry about his eternal security/his salvation. Our salvation is not dependent on how many good works we do. But, the believer who takes his salvation for granted, turns his back on God and lives a life of sin is endangering his soul and very well may wake up one day in hell!

    The doctrine of Eternal Security is an invention of the Calvinists, codified at the Synod of Dort. It is false teaching. It did not exist in the Early Church. It is a license to sin! The Doctrine of Eternal Security is not scriptural!

    I encourage evangelicals to read this Lutheran statement on this issue:


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