Is the belief of eternal security a “license to sin”? Many opponents of the eternal security doctrine claim that if Christians cannot lose their salvation, it therefore allows them to go and live any kind of life they want. Is this the case? No, it is not. Why? A believer will not desire to live after their flesh, but to live after the spirit:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” – Romans 8:1
When a believer is “born again” (John 3:7) and born of God (John 1:12-13), they are made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15). This transformation is known as regeneration. It is defined as the Holy Spirit’s work changing a person’s orientation from rebellion against God to under God’s will and lordship. Would a regenerated person continue to live in a state of unrepentant sin? No, they won’t. Consider:
“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.” – 1 John 2:4–5
Someone who claims to believe and follow Christ but doesn’t keep His commandments is not a true believer. Christians are created unto good works:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
Will a true believer have good works to show for their faith? Consider what James wrote:
“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” – James 2:17–18
Do Christians sin?
So if a professing believer doesn’t keep the commandments of Christ all the time, does that mean they are not truly saved? Consider 1 John 2:
“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” – 1 John 2:1
John tells us that if we sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. There is no question that Christians are guilty of committing sins. Every human being sins (Romans 3:23, 1 John 1:8). So if Christians still sin, what is the difference between a Christian and an unbeliever? When a Christian sins, they know it. They regret it. The life of a Christian involves a constant struggle with sin. Look at what Paul wrote about his own struggle:
“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” – Romans 7:14–25
The above Scripture is lengthy, but it demonstrates that even the Apostle Paul struggled with his sinful flesh. Christians today are no different. The difference between a Christian and an unbeliever is the struggle: the Christian wars with their sinful nature, whereas an unbeliever does not.