While it is a great comfort to know that our salvation rests with God,
and that He is able to keep us from falling, the purpose of this essay
is to defend that truth against those who would discredit it by turning
it into an excuse to sin. Therefore, while I affirm God's promise of
sustaining grace, I condemn and reject the idea that once a person has
been saved he can engage in adultery (or some other gross sin) without
any fear of losing his salvation. In fact, God's Word to all who are
under that delusion is, "the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom
of God" (1 Corinthians 6:9).
The idea that someone can live in open rebellion against God, willingly engage in wicked behavior, and still be saved, is of the devil, for it is impossible for someone who was once repentant, to harden himself in unrepentance and still be repentant. Moreover, because true faith cannot exist where there is no repentance, and repentance cannot exist where there is no remorse, it is impossible for those who are not sorry for their sin to have faith in Christ. Therefore, if such people think that they have faith, then they are under a delusion.
[Note: True repentance is a gift of God's grace, and those who receive it have a broken and contrite spirit before God, 2Timothy 2:25, Psalm 34:18 and 51:17.]
Since those who teach that someone can continue in willful sin and still be saved give the unrepentant a false assurance of salvation, they are not approved of God (2 Timothy 2:15). The unrepentant need to be warned of God's wrath, not given a false hope (1 Timothy 1:9). In fact, God's warning to those who give the unrepentant a false hope – by telling them that they can live in sin and still be saved – is, "When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand" (Ezekiel 3:18 and 33:6-8).
God's Word warning to those who think that they can engage in willful sin, hardening themselves in unrepentance, is, "if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Hebrews 10:26-27)
Those words of warning mean just what they say, and where there is, "no more sacrifice for sins" there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 10:26). That is not to say that the guilty can never get forgiveness, only that they cannot have as long as they remain unrepentant (2Corinthians 7:10). I might also add, that those who give the unrepentant a false hope, are essentially saying to them "peace, peace; when there is no peace," and that is the mark of a false prophet (Ezekiel 6:14).
Without forgiveness, the unrepentant have only the fires of hell to look forward to on the day of judgement. Nevertheless, there are many who no longer want to warn the unrepentant of hell. However, refusing to warn them will not keep them from going there. Such people need to realize that God did not give us those warnings because He wants to be mean, but because he wants us to repent and turn to Christ. Moreover, once we come to faith in Christ, God uses those warnings to keep us repentant. Therefore, those who refuse to warn the unrepentant – simply because they were once saved – are hindering the work of salvation. [Hebrews 10:27, Jeremiah 23:14, Isaiah 48:22, Ezekiel 13:10]
The apostle Paul rebuked the congregation at Corinth, and condemned their tolerant attitude toward immorality. Instead of praising them for not judging others, he reproached them for their failure to condemn sin (1Corinthians 5and 6). Therefore, the message of Scripture is clear. Nevertheless, Paul's words, "Ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned" describe far too many American congregations (1Corinthians 5:2). You can see that puffed up attitude, not only on the part of those who condone homosexuality, but also on the part of those who defended Bill Clinton's immoral behavior.
The Bible plainly tells us that we are to deliver the unrepentant to Satan, and makes it clear that those who harden their heart, are rejecting God's offer of mercy (1Corinthians 5:5, 1Corinthians 6:11, Hebrews 10:26). Therefore, we should not view church discipline as an act of arrogance, but an act of love, whereby the entire congregation warns the unrepentant in the hope that being rebuked of all and judged of all, they might repent, and so be saved (1Corinthians 5:5, 1Corinthians 14:24, Matthew 18:17, 2Corinthians 2:5-7). [Note: Since the unrepentant are unworthy to partake of the Lord's Supper, those under church discipline should not be admitted to it, 1Corinthians 11:27-29, 1Corinthians 5:11.]
While the phrase, "once saved always saved" was invented to counter the satanic notion that works keep us saved, Satan has turned it into a false gospel and is using it to encourage immorality (Galatians 1:9). Therefore, that phrase needs to be rejected in favor of a more Scriptural terminology (1Peter 1:5). Although, those who repent need to be assured that God will keep them by His grace, the wicked should never be led to believe that they can harden their hearts in unrepentance and still be saved.