Listen to a discussion about eternal security and you’ll eventually hear this question: “Are you saying that since we’re secure as Christians, we can do whatever we want to?” It’s the “once saved, always saved” idea that says, once you are saved, you’re saved no matter how you may behave.
But the question really misunderstands the biblical teaching about our sin and God’s grace in our lives.
Christians have struggled over the years with the best way to deal with sin in their lives. That struggle has produced unbiblical doctrines that promise to “aid” Christians along with their own endeavors to obtain personal godliness.
Perhaps you have encountered some of them. One of the more notorious false doctrines is perfectionism. It’s the belief that we can obtain perfect sinlessness in this life. In his book, The Vanishing Conscience, John MacArthur describes the dangers of Christian perfectionism,
Church history is littered with examples of sects and factions who taught various versions of Christian perfectionism. Nearly all these groups have either made utter shipwreck of the faith or been forced to modify their perfectionism to accommodate human imperfection. Every perfectionist inevitably comes face-to-face with clear and abundant empirical evidence that the residue of sin remains in the flesh and troubles even the most spiritual Christians throughout their earthly lives. In order to hang onto perfectionist doctrine, they must redefine sin or diminish the standard of holiness. Too often they do this at the expense of their own consciences. (The Vanishing Conscience, 127)
I have met a few perfectionists in the past. What I have noticed about their teaching is how they relegate sinfulness to only outward behaviors. One perfectionist I spoke with believed as long as he never physically committed adultery, he wasn’t in sin. Thinking about adultery didn’t count as being sinful in his book. I reminded him of Matthew 5:27-28—looking upon a woman to lust is adultery—but he cleverly dismissed the passage as irrelevant.
I quickly discovered similar groups of Christians like the perfectionists. Rather than “dumbing” sin down, they submitted themselves to outward, legalistic codes to obtain godliness. If they failed to keep those codes perfectly, they believed their salvation was in jeopardy.
These errant views of holiness spring from a misunderstanding of the biblical teaching on sanctification.
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Source: Once Saved, Always Saved?