In his famous hymn Amazing Grace, John Newton wrote, “’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Newton made the remarkably profound statement that for the believer, just as God’s grace has brought us to the point where we are in our lives, His grace will also lead us home to heaven. Our salvation is both provided and secured by God’s grace.
While some would question if we can lose our salvation for a variety of reasons (which the Bible says that we cannot), one reason some feel we can lose our salvation is related to what happens when we sin as a believer. One of the questions that we can face as a believer is what effect sin has on our relationship with God. Part of this question is whether or not we can sin in such a way that we lose our salvation. Some feel that if we commit a certain sin or a sin that is “bad enough” then we will forfeit our salvation. That idea implies that once we are saved, we can commit a sin that is terrible enough to make us undeserving of salvation, and therefore we lose salvation. But the Bible makes clear in several ways that once we accept Christ as our Savior, then we cannot lose our salvation. The Bible never uses eternal security as an excuse for sin or a justification for sin, and it never teaches that we should sin as much as we please in order to receive more of God’s grace (Romans 6:1). But the reality is that we do still sin, and some feel we can sin in such a way that we are no longer deserving of the salvation that God has given to us.
But that idea has a fundamental misunderstanding of God’s grace and its relationship to salvation. God’s grace is what provided salvation for us in the first place. By its very definition, grace is a gift that we don’t deserve. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” We receive salvation as a gift that we don’t deserve because we never could earn it in the first place. No amount of “good” things that we do could ever be enough to pay for our salvation. Instead, as Ephesians 2:8-9 and other passages make clear, we receive salvation as a free gift of God’s grace. So to assume that we could sin in such a way as to lose our salvation neglects what grace is. When we’re saved, it’s not as if we deserve salvation and can do something that makes us suddenly undeserving of salvation and makes us unable to keep it. The truth is that we never deserved salvation in the first place. When we accept Christ, we still don’t deserve it. All we have done is receive a gift that God offered us that we did not deserve. So when we sin as a Christian, we do not become less deserving of salvation than we already are. The whole point of grace is that God gave us something we don’t deserve.
After we accept Christ, we do still sin. But that sin cannot take away our salvation. Even when we fail, God’s grace will never fail. The security of our salvation is not based on whether or not we are good enough to deserve salvation or to retain salvation. The security of our salvation is based in the grace of God, just as the provision of our salvation is. Because of that, our sin does not lead to a loss of salvation. As Newton said, “’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”