We talked about being saved by Grace in the post “It’s called Grace for a reason“. This covers God’s Grace and how your sin, once you are saved, is not an issue for your salvation (albeit it is an issue in your life). There is another question that comes up during these discussions: can someone willfully give up their salvation and walk away from God. I’m talking about someone who really, really means it.
Hmm. Reminds me of a child who really, really means it when they tell their parents that they are not the child’s parents any longer. The child really, really means it at the time.
Ok, let’s take a journey and discover just who you are in Christ (assuming your saved, right?).
1 Corinthians 6:17, 19 (NET)
17 But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him.
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
You are not your own. Let that sink in for a moment. Hear the Jeopardy music playing for the final round. The answer is “You are not your own.” You have to write down the question. You think. You think. The music is going to end and suddenly it comes to you and you write: “What is the result of salvation?” Ding, ding, ding: you win!
We become united with the Lord. We become one spirit with Him. The Holy Spirit moves into the temple that is you and begins to rearrange the furniture. You might not initially like where he puts it, but you are not your own.
Whoa! That doesn’t sound like free will to me, you say. You are using the wrong view of free will if you think this. Let’s take a look at salvation from the following point:
John 6:44 (NET)
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Oops! There went your free will again. You cannot come to Jesus on your own as an unsaved person. Period. No amount of free will could put you in a position to obtain salvation. God must change you first. He must call you, give you the faith enough to respond and draw you toward Jesus. At that point it is your choice to accept.
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NET)
Today I invoke heaven and earth as a witness against you that I have set life and death, blessing and curse, before you. Therefore choose life so that you and your descendants may live!
This is where your choice begins: blessing or curse. You don’t choose if it gets put before you; you don’t choose when it gets put before you. You only get to choose which one you desire once it’s there and you are made aware of it.
You see, prior to being called to salvation you were unable to comprehend the concept; you were incapable of choosing righteousness. So really it’s not so much a free will decision as it is a “following your will” action. You were only capable of what your spiritual will would follow.
Ok, now that we’ve framed our view of free will a little bit (food for thought, perhaps), let us move on with the concept of whether we can choose to walk away from our salvation.
Ephesians 5:28-33 (NET)
28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 for we are members of his body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great – but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Verse 32 tells us that the union of man and wife becoming one flesh is a great mystery. “Become one flesh” is not just a euphemism. There is a very real bond that takes place, but because we are carnal and in the flesh we can break this bond. Paul relates this bond to that of Christ with the church, and his relationship is not carnal but rather it is spiritual.
Paul speaks of this union in 1 Corinthians as well:
1 Corinthians 12:12-18 (NET)
12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 16 And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that. 17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell? 18 But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided.
If a body part decides that it does not want to be part of the body it does not lose the fact that it is a part of the body simply because it decides to really, really believe that it wants out. God has placed you in the body where He decided. He did this when you entered the body by accepting salvation; at that moment you gave up yourself to God — Paul tells us that we have become prisoners — and you have given God control of your spirit man. You are still carnal — have an old man — and you can still sin. You still have free will to step out of the blessing and into the curse and you will physically pay for that choice. But God has your spirit and He will keep you; He has given His Holy Spirit as a guarantee of your salvation.
Ephesians 4:1-6, 15-16, 30 (NET)
1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
You are sealed for redemption. Your salvation is guaranteed. And you are a prisoner of God: you are not your own but you are owned by God. While you have been given free will, it does not include the breaking of this seal. You are not your own. Your free will does not extend to the possibility that you would walk away from God.
Your spirit has been regenerated … changed. It simply will not desire to walk away (so in this your free will is still intact, for your spirit won’t choose against your desire). Your carnal man may throw a temper tantrum. It may lead you contrary to the will of God for your life. It may get you to walk in the curse. But your spirit man is being held by God. Your will has been changed, made righteous with the righteousness of Christ, and your desires have been directed. Your free will shall always move in the direction of your desires, of your will. Thus your spirit will never walk away. You are sealed for redemption.
Isn’t it nice to know that God has your back when your carnal self decides to go AWOL. He will keep you. He is in control.