Have you ever doubted your salvation? If so, you’re not alone. When I was a young man, I was never certain about my standing with Christ. I believed any unconfessed sin could cost me my eternity with God and those I love, so I constantly repented but never had peace of mind or confidence of heaven. I lived under a heavy yoke of slavery to legalism until I was finally set free by the truth of God’s Word.
Many Christians struggle with uncertainty about their eternal security. Sometimes it’s because they’ve been taught that they can lose their salvation. Or maybe they’re convinced their sins prove they aren’t really saved. Whatever the reason, there’s nothing quite as unsettling as doubts about your eternal security.
I want you to know that living as slaves to legalistic expectations and efforts isn’t what God intends for you. Christ has set us free with salvation based on God’s grace, and all that’s required of us is faith in His Son (Gal. 5:1). So don’t let anyone tell you that you need to obey certain rules in order to be saved or stay saved.
The Lord gives us plenty of assurance of our salvation in His Word. You can’t lose it because God is the one who holds you. If it were up to us to keep our salvation, we’d all lose it. But Jesus said, “My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).
Eternal security is the work of God in which He guarantees that His gift of salvation, once received by faith in Christ, is possessed forever and can never be lost. No one (including us) can condemn us because through Christ’s death and resurrection, God has justified us (Rom. 8:33-34).
With so many promises of eternal salvation, why do some Christians still doubt? One of the reasons is that there are a few verses in Scripture that seem to imply it’s possible to lose one’s salvation. But remember, a single verse without its context can easily be misinterpreted. That’s why you should always read what comes before and after. God’s Word never contradicts itself.
Some of the verses that are used to support the loss of salvation are in the book of Galatians, but the context clears up the misunderstanding. Paul wrote this letter to a group of churches that had been infiltrated by false teachers who claimed faith in Jesus was insufficient for salvation. They said obedience to Old Testament Law was also required.
Paul was very concerned that the believers were being deceived so he gave them some stern warnings. His first warning is in Galatians 1:6, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.” Did you notice that even though Paul said they were deserting the Lord by believing lies, he still identified them as believers who had been called by the grace of God? Being temporarily deceived doesn’t cancel your salvation.
You’ll find the second warning in Galatians 5:2, “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you.” The false teachers were saying that being circumcised earned favor with God. But Paul pointed out that for those in Christ, such ceremonial obedience profited them nothing. Adding legalism to your faith won’t help you since it’s actually harmful to your spiritual life.
The third warning is in Galatians 5:4, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the Law.” By adding works to grace, the false teachers nullified Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, declaring it insufficient. This proved their faith wasn’t genuine, and their false teaching was hindering the true believers from living by faith.
Finally Paul warned, “You have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). I have often heard worried Christians tell me that because of their sins, they’ve fallen from grace, but that’s not what Paul is saying. Grace is the means by which God saves repentant sinners. To fall from grace isn’t the loss of salvation, or even a fall into sin, but a descent into the enslavement of trying to earn your salvation.
Even though Paul sternly reproved these churches for their foolishness in believing lies, he wasn’t saying they had lost their salvation. After reasoning with them and calling them back to the truth, he concluded by saying, “I have confidence in you in the Lord, that you will adopt no other view” (Gal. 5:10). Paul knew that the Lord always keeps those who truly belong to Him, and that includes you.
If you ever read a verse that seems to say you could lose your salvation, go back and read the whole chapter. Better yet, read the entire book. Jesus said that knowing the truth of His word will make you free (John 8:31-32). Don’t ever go back to the slavery of trying to be good enough. Just fill your mind with Scripture, submit to the Holy Spirit, and let Him transform you into the image of Christ. Now that’s freedom!
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. If you’ve never contacted us at In Touch Ministries, we would love to hear from you. We have many resources on our website, and you can even send us your prayer requests. Please take some time this week to explore intouch.org. I think you will be richly blessed.