Originally posted by FreakyKBH
While you could pick one that you consider to be the most pesky, it's much more profitable to begin with the first principles; namely, how is salvation wrought?
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life" (Ephesians 2:8-10).
Salvation is the work of Jesus Christ on the cross and all who believe in him will inherit everlasting life and will not perish. As the above passage points out, salvation is not the result of works, but a free gift, so that none may boast of having been worthy to receive it. Amen.
My intention is not to undermine the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. I don't mean to insinuate that after having once received salvation through Christ, a person must thereafter perfectly obey the law or risk losing one's salvation. Such a teaching is contrary to the gospel, which Paul makes more than adequately clear in Galatians 3. What I am saying is not contrary to the gospel:
A believer in Jesus Christ, instead of being subject to the law of Moses, is now subject to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
: "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-2). We are no longer subject to the law of sin and death, but we are nevertheless subject to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus; likewise there are definite consequences for disobeying the law of the Spirit as there are for disobeying the law of sin and death (which I will address later).
What does the bible say about the law of the Spirit? Namely, that the Spirit is contrary to the flesh, and therefore, the 'law' of the Spirit is the putting "to death the deeds of [our] sinful nature" (Romans 8:13). And the fruit of obeying the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus are presented in Galatians 5: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (22-24). For further illustration of this, consider the following passage: "Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law" (Galatians 5:16-18).
We are not subject to the law of sin and death, if
we are subject to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which is a putting to death of the deeds of the flesh, the fruit of which there is no law against: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But what of he who after having believed, does not obey the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, and so does not put to death the deeds of the flesh, and consequently bears no fruit of the Spirit? Is such a person's salvation nevertheless safe? Are the many warnings throughout scripture against such a lifestyle without portent?
Does not Christ refer to such in Matthew when he says, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot" (Matthew 5:13). Or again in Matthew, speaking of the fruit of the Spirit: "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:18-20). And yet further, "He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit" (John 15:2). Couple this with what we know from James 2, that "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24), and it becomes clear that a faith without obedience to the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus is a 'dead' faith (salt that has lost its taste; a tree which does not bear good fruit).
In light of all this let us reconsider the warning:
"For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them
. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘The dog turns back to its own vomit’, and, ‘The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud'" (2 Peter 2:20-22).
"To turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them
." This holy commandment is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which we must obey in order to be free from the law of sin and death, and to be justified. It is not enough to simply believe, since "even the demons believe—and shudder" (James 2:19).
Yes, salvation can be lost.