Q2 : Salvation versus Sanctification

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Q2 : Salvation versus Sanctification

Why do I find it so hard to stay saved?

A2 : by Tony Garland

From your question, it sounds as if there are some areas of confusion concerning what the bible teaches about salvation. The bible teaches that salvation occurs once. A person does not become truly saved, then unsaved, then saved again, then unsaved again, etc. Various passages refer to salvation as being "born again" (Lu 15:24; Lu 15:32; Joh 3:3; Joh 3:7; Ga 6:15; 1Pe 1:3; 1Pe 1:23; 1Jo 2:29; 1Jo 3:9; 1Jo 5:1; 1Jo 5:18). Ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many times were you physically born? Is it possible to be physically born more than once? (No.)
  2. Once you have been physically born, can you become "unborn" and then reenter the womb a second time to be physically reborn? (No.)

So it is with being saved. It is a work of God—not of men (John 1:12-13). Once you are saved by God, He will not fail to keep you (John 10:27-39). Perhaps your question is really about why you frequently are falling into sin and not walking according to God's instructions in the bible? If so, there are two possible reasons:

  1. You have never truly experienced salvation as described in the bible where you confess your sins and trust in the completed work of Jesus for your righteousness—turning away from your old way of life (John 3:16).
  2. Or perhaps you have been saved, but you are being unaware or disobedient to what God's Word reveals as to how we are to live and grow in our faith—being conformed into the image of His Son.
Assuming you have experienced salvation, then it is sanctification — your ongoing walk and spiritual maturity which may be suffering. This is a big subject, but I can make several suggestions which you may want to consider:

    Truly turn away from sin and toward God. Get rid of the things in your life by which you are most easily tempted and drawn away from God. If you are serious with God, you will realize that these items or habits grieve the Holy Spirit so you will desire to remove them from your life.

    Study God's Word every day and also with other believers in your community. Jesus said in John 8:31-32: "IF you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed. AND you will know the truth, AND the truth will make you free." Notice that this promise is conditional. We are not really disciples of Jesus unless we abide (remain, dwell, stay) in His Word. What word is that? It is the Holy Scriptures (the bible). This shows how important it is for us to study the bible. True maturity will never come by experiences or feelings, but only through the ongoing study of God's Word. "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4).

    We are commanded to be in fellowship with other believers on a regular basis. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as [is] the manner of some, but exhorting [one another], and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25). Notice that we are to "stir up love and good works" among "one another." It is not God's intention that we be "loners" and on our own. Therefore, it is very important to find other believers in your area which you can meet with for prayer, study, and worship on a regular basis.

I hope these suggestions answer your question. If you are truly serious about God and grieved about sin, then you must take active steps to put these things into place in your life. Also remember that the problems you are experiencing did not develop over night and it may take some time to completely become free. But if you are obedient to God and follow the clear teaching in the bible, then He has promised to "make you free." If we are not free, it is not because His Word has failed in its promises, but that we have failed him and are not truly serious about dealing with sin.

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