Can I lose my salvation if I sin?

I once read an interesting phrase in a book – “Christians are not sinless, but they sin less.” Even though that is a debatable statement, the truth is, the average Christian sins almost on a daily basis. I will get to that in a short while but first things first – let me start by answering the question that brought you to this post.

Short Answer

Can I lose my salvation if I sin? The short answer is no. You do not lose your salvation by sinning. You lose your salvation by rejecting Jesus Christ. When you got saved, you got engrafted into God’s family. If you are a parent, you know your kids do not stop being part of your family because they did something bad. However horrible their actions might be, they will always be your kids. When a Christian sins, the only thing he might lose is their fellowship with God but their relationship with God remains.

Long Answer

Remember how you got saved? You got saved by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord. Paul gives a succinct explanation to salvation in Romans.

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus 
and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.
~Romans 10:9, NKJV

Notice, you didn’t get saved by stopping to sin. You got saved by believing that Jesus is lord and making a public confession of the same. Obviously, you also ended up abandoning your sinful ways but that was more of a by-product of salvation rather than a cause of salvation. This helps to prove that a Christian that sins doesn’t automatically lose their salvation. The only way they can lose their salvation is if they negated it by denouncing Christ and choosing to believe in something else instead.

There is nobody in the scriptures who was saved merely because they stopped sinning. Similarly, there is nobody in scripture who lost their salvation merely because they committed a sin. As confusing as that may sound, the explanation is quite simple – salvation comes by grace.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. 
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done,
so none of us can boast about it.
~ Ephesians 2:8-9, NLT

You cannot take credit for salvation because it was given as a free gift to those that believed in Jesus. The only thing that was required of you was to believe. That’s how you got saved. It had nothing to do with what you did or didn’t do. Salvation didn’t come by works but by grace through faith. When you understand that, you will realize there is no way sin can take away your salvation.  If you are still in doubt, consider the following Bible examples.

  • Abraham

On two different occasions, Abraham lied about his wife (Genesis 12:11, 20:2). He was so good at the lies that he passed it down to his son Isaac (Genesis 26:1-16). Today, we call him the father of faith. How come we refer to him as the father of faith and not the father of lies? In fact, even after he had lied in Genesis 12, God still referred to him as “my friend” (Genesis 18:17). Wait a minute – why would God still call him a friend when he had lied?  Could it be because the sin of lying didn’t make him lose his relationship with God? Of course yes! That is the only explanation that would made sense.

  • Moses

In Numbers 12, Moses did a great sin. He married a Cushite woman, which was a direct contravention of what God had commanded Israel. God had forbidden the nation of Israel from marrying from other nations. Aaron and Miriam were so disappointed in Moses that they decided to confront him. Then the most extraordinary thing happened – God descended and spoke to them. He started by reprimanding Miriam and Aaron for talking ill of his servant Moses. In other words, God was furious that they were quick to label Moses a sinner. Then it got worse – Miriam was struck with leprosy and even after Moses interceded for her, God said she would have to bear the leprosy for 7 days.

Now that doesn’t seem right – Moses is the one that had sinned. Miriam and Aaron were only demanding that their leader doesn’t not preach water and drink wine. But that is not how God saw it. In the eyes of God, these were two self-righteous people condemning his servant for sinning. There is a lot we can glean from that story. Sadly, the church is usually very quick to banish Christians who fall in the sin of immorality. We need to realize that even though God hates sin, he loves sinners. And the worst thing you can do is to stand between the heavenly father and his kid (even if the kid has really messed up). Like Miriam, you might come face to face with God’s wrath.

  • Apostle Paul

Our story wouldn’t be complete without talking about Apostle Paul. Paul is arguably the most prolific Apostle in the early church. Not only did he write 1/3 of the New Testament but he helped to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to more destinations than all the other apostles combined. But even in the light of such accomplishments, he found himself struggling with sin. Even though he doesn’t out rightly tell us what sin it was, he gives us a sneak peek into his struggles.

For I do not do the good I want to do, 
but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 
Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it,
but it is sin living in me that does it.
~ Romans 7:19-20, NIV

That sounds like the confessions of a backslidden Christian. It doesn’t sound like words from the most powerful post-resurrection preacher. But even though he found himself struggling with the flesh, he had one assurance – he knew sin had no power over him and even if he sinned, it didn’t make him lose his salvation. And this is why he boldly declared in the next chapter,

 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, 
~ Romans 8:1, NKJV

The reason the devil continues tempting Christians to sin is because he wants to do what he does best – he wants to stand on the platform of the sin they committed to start condemning them. If you ever find yourself in sin, just remember what Paul said – there is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.

Do you mean there are no consequences for sin?

Of course not! In fact, the same Paul we are refereeing to warns that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The fact that you cannot lose your salvation because you have sinned shouldn’t make you continue to live in sin. In fact, every Christian should do their best to live the kind of life that Jesus meant when he called us to be perfect (Mathew 5:48). That might sound like a tall order but it is actually easy if you understand that righteousness comes from God and not from man. Prophet Isiah warned us that our righteousness is but filthy rags to God. In simple English, it is not possible to attain righteousness through human effort. However, if you understand that salvation doesn’t come by works but by grace, you can also receive righteousness as a free gift.

So here is a mind boggling truth – you are not righteous because you do not sin; you are righteous because Christ made you righteous.

Where is the biblical evidence of that? I am so glad you asked!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Cor. 5:21

You are righteous because Jesus took your sins on the cross. So even if you fell into temptation and sinned today, you are still the righteousness of God. And that is the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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