10/02/17Back in the 1990s, I went through a time when I was so scared that I might lose my salvation. It was one of the most miserable periods of my life. Deep within me, I knew I was saved, and I did my best to seek God in prayers, fastings, Bible reading, giving, etc. I was even a full-time preacher but yet there was this gnawing feeling that would plague me, telling me that I couldn’t be so sure that after it all, I would make heaven.
It was like there were little voices (now I know they were lying devils) sitting on my shoulders and whispering into my ears that I might commit the unpardonable sin or ‘backslide’, and thus be excluded from Jesus’ heaven. At times, those voices sounded almost audible. They would say, ‘Going to God’s heaven isn’t as easy as believing in Jesus; you also have to be 100% pure and you, Peter, know you are not that holy’. And then such tormenting fears would cease me. It was terrible! All I could do was hope that God would somehow see that I sincerely loved Him, and would have mercy on me, and take me to His heaven, but there was no surety.
I tried fighting these things with hours of prayers, days of fasting, etc. I repented of every sin I could think of: my own, my ancestors’, my nation’s, of the Body of Christ, etc. I sought prayers of deliverance from others. I read books on spiritual warfare and deliverance, and tried to implement what they taught. But despite all these efforts, things didn’t get any better.
The truth you know sets free
But thank God, finally, by the grace of God, I found out that my answer was all the time in the Bible I read quite often. My problem was that I had been reading the Bible through the ‘lenses’ of the religious traditions I had learnt from others and so I couldn’t readily internalize truths that held my freedom.
Speaking to Jews who had believed in Him, the Lord Jesus said in John 8:31-32: ‘If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’. It is the truth we personally know that makes us free; not the truths our leaders, friends, family or anybody else know. And sometimes in order to come to the place where you know the truth for yourself from the Word, you may have to go against what others, including maybe even your church or denomination, believe.
Many sincere believers continue to live in bondage due to not understanding that there are massive differences between how God related with people under the Old Testament, and how He does with us today under the New Testament. One of those differences is in how sin is dealt with.
Under the Old Testament, the prescribed solution for sin was temporal. The high priest offered the blood of bulls and goats on the Day of Atonement to secure forgiveness for the people of Israel (Leviticus 16), but that forgiveness lasted only one year. Once the year elapsed, God remembered all the sins of the people and the high priest had to offer fresh animal blood to secure another year’s redemption, otherwise judgment would fall on the people. According to Hebrews 10:1-4, this yearly blood sacrifices was evidence that sin was never really removed but merely covered temporarily:
‘For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins’.
Since sin was never bloated out, the people remained conscious that were never worthy to stand in God’s presence and freely relate with Him. That was also why they constantly confessed their own sins and of their ancestors, because they knew God remembered their sins to the third and fourth generation. Hebrews 9:8 teaches that through the entire Old Testament worship system, the Holy Spirit was showing that sin remained a barrier between God and man.
Jesus obtained eternal redemption for us
But in the New Testament, there is good news. The precious blood of Jesus doesn’t just cover our sins temporarily but remits, removes, purges and cleanses them forever.
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us (Hebrews 9:11-12)
Praise God, we are eternally, not just temporarily, redeemed by the blood of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Halleluiah!
Jesus’ one sacrifice paid for our sins: past, present and future
If the redemption the blood of Jesus provides for the believer was temporal, lasting only until the believer sins again, Jesus would have to keep dying for us over and over to avail fresh forgiveness every time we sin. The reason Jesus died for us just once and will never need to die again is because His one sacrifice removed all of our sins forever: past, present and even future sins. This truth is so good that it takes a while to sink in but thank God, it is so.
Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Hebrews 9:25-28)
Papa God doesn’t remember our sins
When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we receive eternal redemption through His blood, which is the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7), and Papa God never ever remembers our sins again, because He honors Jesus’ blood sacrifice. And since He doesn’t remember them, He doesn’t require that we or Jesus or anybody else offer fresh sacrifice for them every time we miss the mark, nor does He punish us for our sins:
‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’ (Hebrews 10:16-18)
Our Lord is now seated at the right hand of God because He so efficaciously completed the work of redeeming us that He doesn’t have to re-do it. He isn’t up there worried that His people might sin and still have to pay for their sins in hell, despite His redemption. On His cross, He once and for all finished the work of taking away our sins. He has perfected us forever, not temporarily. This is the gospel.
Believers with Old Testament mindset
Like it was with me, many of God’s children try to relate with God based on the terms of the Old Testament rather than the New, and that is why they are so sin-conscious. They worry that their sins might still separate them from God like they did under the Old Testament, quoting Scriptures like Isaiah 59:1-2. But this was before Jesus was separated from God on our behalf. (Mathew 27:16). Since the cross, Papa God now says He will NEVER leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6), not because we are so holy in our performance, but because He forsook Jesus at the Cross so He would never have to forsake us.
Should we sin?
Now, usually when people hear this truth for the first time, myriads of questions rise in their minds, such as: Are you saying we can therefore just go on and commit sin since in Christ, we are forgiven forever?; Does a believer not lose their salvation even if they sin?; Is confessing sins wrong?; etc.
There are answers in Scripture to all these questions, which are results of religious traditions really, but space does not allow me to exhaustively deal with them here. What I can emphatically state here is that there is no truly born again Christian who deliberately enjoys sinning! Sin is contrary to the born again nature. If someone is living like devil, and enjoying it and yet they say they are born again, I will not believe them.
What is so critical to grasp is this: no sin in itself can make a believer lose their salvation. We don’t get saved by stopping a sin and so committing a sin doesn’t make our salvation go away. The only way a believer could lose their salvation would be by stopping to trust in Christ as their Savior. In that case, a person rejects Christ as the payment for their sins, and therefore they must go to hell and pay for their own sins. This actually is what the unpardonable sin is. It is the sin that leads to death (1 John 5:16-17).
But then again, anybody who is concerned that they might go to hell despite believing in Christ has not committed the unpardonable sin. If you were headed to hell, the devil wouldn’t say anything about it to you!
Born again, again?
A lot of times, spiritually young believers who for some reason or other stop attending church or get caught up in some sin are told that they have lost their salvation, or are ‘backslidden’, and that they need to ‘come back to the Lord’ or get saved again. Well, Hebrews 6:4, 6 says that if someone truly turns away from Jesus, it is ‘impossible ….to renew them again to repentance’. It is impossible to be born again, lose it, and then be born again, again! If you really understand what the new birth is (which many born again people don’t seem to), you will see that no one can be born again twice.
Lean on Jesus alone
One time during a service, a well-built, young man came to me shaking all over with fear because of the demonic lie that he might have lost his salvation due to something he had done. I assured him that he was on his way to heaven because Jesus was His Ultimate Savior and no demon in hell was strong enough to get him out of Jesus’ grasp! He wasn’t his own savior, I reminded him.
Child of God, Jesus has redeemed you eternally. Jesus is your Savior! Trust Him. Lean on Him. Look to Him alone. Cast out religious ideas that keep you out of intimacy with your Father by reminding you of sins that God doesn’t remember. All of your sins – past, present and future – were paid for eternally by Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice and can thus never be a barrier between you and God. Yes, you must live holy, but not so you can earn your salvation. Jesus did that for you and it is a settled, eternal fact. Rejoice!!!