Everlasting life is forever. Once saved, always saved. But does that mean believers can sin without any consequences?
People are right to point out that the NT is filled with warnings to believers. But they’re wrong to think those warnings are about the possibility of losing eternal salvation.
So what can believers lose? I will explore the NT evidence in a series of blog posts.
For example, did you know that you can lose your physical health by sinning?
Of course, you did. For example, we all know that alcoholism can lead to liver disease, gluttony to heart disease, sexual promiscuity to STDs, and burglary to lead poisoning.
Sin can impact your health—that’s common sense. But it’s also Biblical revelation.
For example, when the Corinthians were being divisive at the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor 11:18), many of them got sick, and a few died:
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep (1 Cor 11:29-30).
See that? Eternally secure believers were getting sick because of their sinful behavior. Everlasting life was no protection against earthly illness.
Similarly, James assumed that sin could result in sickness—
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (Jas 5:14-16).
If you’re sick, James says you can call the church’s elders to pray for you. Notice that he assumes that sin and sickness are often entangled, making confession appropriate.
But that does not mean every sickness is a result of unconfessed sin. In John 9:2-3, Jesus made clear that people can get sick for other reasons, too, such as God’s sovereign purposes. So you cannot dogmatically insist on a one-to-one correlation between disobedience and disease. Yet if you get sick, it is worth checking your conscience (and your behavior) and confess the sins you know in order to be forgiven.
Everlasting life is forever, but physical health is not—one reason grace believers have not to continue sinning.