The Bible is full of warnings to Christians how one can exclude themselves from the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Eph. 5:3-5; Gal. 5:19-20; Rev. 21:8, etc. etc.). The Bible is clear that saved people can go back to loving the world, cast off their first faith, and follow after Satan (2 Tim. 4:10; 1 Tim 5:11-15, etc.). Many, many examples can be given from Christ Himself, as well as throughout the New Testament, of the warnings we must heed lest we fall away.
I often get email that it is impossible for a Christian to go back to living a life of sin. I am told it only proves they were never saved to begin with. I am told it is impossible for a Christian to go into apostasy, but yet there are many examples of saints who fell away to prove otherwise.
Apostasy means a departure from the faith. What do the unsaved depart from?
Jesus said many will turn away from the faith and betray and hate each other.
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” -Matt. 24:9-13
“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” -Luke 8:13
Notice there were some who believed, but not for long. In time of temptation they fell away.
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” -John 6:66
“Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” -Rom. 11:19-23
Now, to claim that it’s impossible for a Christian to turn away from God and back to a sinful lifestyle is to clearly ignore the many Bible passages of Scripture.
Is it possible to know who is saved and who is not?
Let’s examine some Scriptures.
To say such a person was never saved to begin with is to deny how we can know who is saved and who is not. The Bible says we can KNOW who is a child of God by their behavior.
“In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” -1 John 3:10
“Doeth” is one who continues to do something. In this case it is not practicing righteousness.
“Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. -1 John 3:7-8
This is talking about those who practice righteousness. If they are practicing righteousness, they are righteous even as he (Jesus) is righteous. Those who practice sin are of the devil.
Those who like to lay claim that Christians can’t help but sin every single day in thought, word, or deed, ought to reexamine themselves to see whether they are in the faith or not. (2 Cor. 13:5) Because of this false teaching, they are not able to comprehend the above verses. They try to find ways of explaining the verses away.
John also says,
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” -1 John 2:3,4
Whose commandments? Why Jesus of course! How can one who lives in sin still be saved, even after having experienced true saving grace at some point in his life? If he doesn’t obey the commandments of Jesus, he is a liar and the truth is not in him! NONE of the apostles, this includes Paul, ever went against the teachings of Jesus. They all preached Jesus and what He taught! They did exactly what Jesus told them to do (Matt. 28:19-20. Also see Matt. 7:24).
Question: If a Christian turns to wickedness, and then you want to claim he was never saved to begin with, how do you identify him as a non-Christian before his departure from the faith?
The Bible clearly shows how we can tell who is a child of God and who is not.
So far we have identified how we can know those who are a child of God, but you may be asking, “What does this have to do with those who claim, ‘They were never saved in the first place’ if they return to a life of sinning? Well, this is just to show the inconsistencies in such a claim. How so?
Question: Well, would you say that David, Solomon, and Peter were never saved to begin with?
David was guilty of adultery and murder (2 Sam. 11)
Solomon turned to idolatry (1 Kings 11:4-10)
Peter denied Jesus three times (Matt. 26:33,34)
The only thing we know from Scripture is that David and Peter repented. Solomon, on the other hand, continued in his wickedness. There is nothing in Scripture that says Solomon repented and turned back to God. The argument is destroyed by these three Bible characters alone of the “They were never saved in the first place.” Who is going to deny that any of these men were never really saved? What would have happened if David and Peter did not repent? (Ezek. 18:20-22,24; Luke 12:9; 2 Tim. 2:12; 1 John 2:23)
Another flawed argument. To say that a true Christian who turns back to unrighteous living was never really saved to begin with is to say that true Christians will always obey God. But yet, in the same breath, say that Christians sin every single day in thought, word, and deed, and appeal to Paul in Romans chapter 7:14-25 as the normal Christian life!
First we are told that no one is able to obey the commandments of God, then we are told we are able to obey the commandments of God, and then we are told everyone sins every day in thought, word, and deed. Which is it?
The Bible is full of examples of people who were disciples and followers of Jesus and later fell away. There are many pitfalls that confront us. Many toils and snares await along the narrow path to life. We can become deceived and fall away (2 Peter 3:17; 1 Tim. 4:3-4). We can become entangled in the worldly lusts and forfeit our salvation (Matt. 13:21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-20; Eph. 5:5-7). We can grow weary and lose hope (Gal. 6:7-10). It is possible to depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1), make shipwreck of the faith (1 Tim. 1:19), we can be thwarted by persecutions (Luke 8:13), and return again to sin and fall from grace (2 Peter 2:20-22; Gal. 5:2-4). We are told to make our calling and election sure by Peter. Jude told us to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 1:21). These are just a “few” of the scriptures that continually admonish us to remain ‘steadfast’ in the Lord. To ignore these warnings may cost us our soul.
Another flawed argument of this “Never saved to begin with.” We are to believe that we can’t know who is a true Christian as long as he remains alive because they might apostatize. Again, apostasy is to depart from the faith. This does not happen to lost people.
Question: If it is not possible to tell who is truly saved, couldn’t your preacher be one of those who was “never saved to begin with?” How about your wife or husband?
So where does this argument of “never saved to begin with” originate from? There are few passages that are misused to teach such nonsense.
Matthew 7:23 (I never knew you)
Matthew 25:12 (I don’t know you)
1 John 2:19 (They went out from us, but they were not of us)
In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus is talking about evil doers.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
These were ‘religious people’. The context shows they were never saved because they were evil doers (ye that work iniquity)! If they were saved, their conversion would have shown that they were free from sin and washed by the blood (Rom. 6:22; John 8:43-36; Rev. 1:5, etc.), which doesn’t mean it is not possible for those who had a true conversion to fall away.
Now let us look at the 10 virgins who were waiting for the bridegroom. What did Jesus say to the foolish virgins?
“Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (v. 11-12)
Jesus didn’t say, “I never knew you.” He said, “I don’t know you,” implying they were once known (saved), but lost their salvation. The door was shut to the foolish virgins.
Where it concerns 1 John 2:19, this is simply referring to the people who did not believe Jesus was the Christ if you read it in context (see 1 John 2:22).
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”
There was no evidence of saving grace since they denied Jesus was the Christ. Their doctrine was wrong. These people were known as “antichrist,” for they continually denied that Jesus was the Christ.
In order to defend Calvin’s 5th T.U.L.I.P, and excuse gross immorality from those who call themselves Christians, they must use the phrase, “They were never saved to begin with.” And yet, at other times, will continue to teach unconditional eternal security of the believer! He is secure no matter what he does! They will claim such things as the immoral brother of 1 Cor. 5 was still a Christian and saved even though he was involved in sexual immorality! This can only be twisted out of joint because of another false teaching that all future sins are automatically forgiven (we will get to that another time).
The proponents of unconditional security will say, “Once you are saved, you can never lose your salvation no matter what you do.” Let’s call it like it is! What they are really saying is, “You can never lose your salvation no matter how many sins you commit.”
To not let one off the hook so fast, they will follow up with, “You will simply lose some rewards and God will take you home early if you continue to live in sin.”
Imagine! The ultimate reward for any believer is to be with Jesus forever. If you are not worried about losing some rewards, just sin like the devil so God will take you home early! They may scream foul, but that is exactly what the bottom line is when you take away all the fluff and empty words. They are contradicting, inconsistent, and send a double message. They ignore or explain away the clear passages of Scripture which shows a person can become lost again (spiritual death) through sin.
The first one to teach unconditional eternal security was the devil, and they still continue to spread his message given in the Garden (Gen. 3:4).
“Ye shall not surely die.”
Don’t fall for the lie! It is YOUR soul at stake.
See my video: Must We Sin?