2 Peter 2:20-21 “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.”
When one is genuinely saved, is it possible to afterwards lose this salvation? Is our salvation like a revolving door we go in-and-out of easily? Or is it rather hard to lose? We will examine the scriptures (the short answer is yes, you can lose your salvation).
John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”
The context of this verse is referring to the “sheep” and this verse is often taken to mean that Christ will not let a person fall out of salvation. Yet it only refers to others forcible removing you from Christ, not from yourself voluntarily rebelling against him by going back to the life of sin.
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Another verse used to defend eternal security. Yet we see again that all of the things mentioned which cannot separate us from Christ are external persons and forces. It does not say that you cannot separate yourself from Christ’s love.
Philippians 1:6 “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
We see a promise here that Christ is actively doing a work in our lives throughout our Christian walk. This does not mean however, that it is impossible to walk away from the faith. If we turn away and do not pursue God we should not expect him to continue pouring out his grace to transform us.
In the parable of the sower we see that there is a group which receives the word enthusiastically and believes, but only falls away later on when they run into trials and temptations. These are those who are “stony ground.”
Luke 8:13- “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.”
So clearly they have believed for a time and are a part of the faith and it is only later on when they fall away. If eternal security was true, they would not be able to fall away.
Salvation Can Be Lost
1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;”
Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
Hebrews 10:26-27 “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (NKJV).
Philippians 3:10-12 “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.”
In this last verse in Philippians Paul is showing humility and acknowledging that it would be possible for him to miss out on salvation if he did not continue to leave the old life behind. He says “not as though I had already attained” signifying that it would be possible for him to fall away sometime in the future. If Paul, the most powerful apostle, admitted his salvation could be lost and resurrection not attained, then it should be pretty clear to us that we also can fall out of salvation if we do not hold firm.
There are probably plenty of persons who never were saved in the first place. They may have only believed and trusted Jesus for their salvation without making any commitment to repent from sin. But it is also very possible for a real believer to fall out of the state of saving grace.
Now there is something to be said for the humility of acknowledging that it is up to God to keep you saved, rather than up to yourself. I made a powerful prayer giving my life to Christ fully and telling him he can use trials when necessary to bring me back so I do not die in rebellion. Every Christian should make a prayer like this where you acknowledge you cannot rely on yourself to stay saved.
We do not fall in and out every time we sin. None of us would be saved in that case. But when we begin to consistently disobey our conscience when we know certain things are wrong, or ignore the good things we need to do and instead live for self, this means we are no longer secure in salvation and may indeed be damned. God will speak to a believer’s conscience or heart clearly before they backslide. We cannot just live life however we please, we have to fight the good fight and guard our soul. When we sin we can repent and be forgiven if we are forgiving others.