If we were guaranteed salvation, then why would Christ repeatedly warn us in the book of Revelation to overcome? Christ says:
“'. . . To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.'"
"'. . . He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.'"
"'And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations . . .'"
"'He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.'" (Revelation 2:7, 11, 26, Revelation 3:5)
Clearly, overcoming is important to God and is connected with our salvation. The good news is that Christ gives us all the help we could ever need to succeed at overcoming.
What is the MYSTERY of salvation?
What is often not grasped by most Christians is the mystery regarding the PROCESS of salvation and overcoming sin through Jesus Christ. If we can understand this mystery, we will know how to be a successful overcomer. In Colossians 1 we read,
"The mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: WHICH IS CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY" (Colossians 1: 26-27)
The mystery is that Jesus Christ is the One who gives us the strength to overcome! We need to understand that by Christ dwelling in us through God's Holy Spirit, He gives us the sufficient strength and power to overcome. He helps us and makes it possible for us to successfully overcome and to receive the glory of salvation, which is the entry into God's kingdom and family forever.
The confusion about having guaranteed salvation may be based on the fact that God loved us so much that He sent His Only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us:
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." (Romans 5:8-9).
This verse does tell us the wonderful truth that we are saved through Christ. But, it does not give us license to keep on sinning! God tells us in the Bible that He will not dwell with sin (Revelation 21:3, 7-8). In Galatians 5 we are told that sinners will not be allowed into the Kingdom of God:
"Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, THAT THOSE WHO PRACTICE SUCH THINGS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD." (Galatians 5:19-21)
Christians need to understand that salvation is NOT guaranteed. Rather, salvation is a gift of God (Romans 6:23). This means that God decides who shall receive this gift! And, God says He will save those who overcome sin! In is imperative that we persevere in our calling and be successful overcomers.
What must believers STRUGGLE AGAINST each day?
The Apostle Paul describes the daily struggle he, and all those who believe in God, fight:
"For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is GOOD.
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.
"I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, WARRING AGAINST THE LAW OF MY MIND, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! WHO WILL DELIVER ME FROM THIS BODY OF DEATH? " (Romans 7:15-16, 18-19, 21-24)
Paul in an early chapter explained that since the "wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:33), we "die" daily because we sin daily. Overcoming requires true repentance of sin and turning away from the sin that ensnares us (Romans 2:4). The only way to win this battle is to have an unconditional surrender to let Christ direct our lives. Although Paul says we sin daily, he is not talking about going out daily and committing the physical acts of adultery or murder. Paul is talking about the condition of our hearts (our thoughts), and how our thoughts are not completely pure (Jeremiah 17:9). In this physical life, we still battle daily against thoughts of coveting, lusting, and hate. As we overcome, our sinful thoughts and sinful acts should become fewer and farther between because we will grow in Christ's righteousness and He will give us the strength to overcome.
What was Paul's answer to his own question regarding WHO will save him (and us!) from death?
"I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." (Romans 7:25)
Is failure an OPTION?
In Luke 9:62, Jesus said,
"No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God."
Christ is using this spiritual analogy about perseverance in our faith. In this story a person went out to plow a section of land. He started in the cool of the morning, but as the day progressed and the heat was rising, he was sweating and the insects were bothering him. Then, he began to have difficulty plowing the rocks and the hard soil. It was at this point that he started to have "second thoughts" about finishing the job, and started to form in his mind reasons (or excuses) why he should quit plowing. Soon enough, he walked away from the unfinished job.
When God the Father, who is the Master Potter (Isaiah 64:8), brings a person to Christ (John 6:44), then the person who is called is warned to "count the cost" (Luke 14:26-33) and make a FULL commitment to go all the way to become God's holy, righteous, spiritual child. In the beginning things may not be too hard for him, but after a while his spiritual travels start to become rough and sometimes his trials and tribulations multiply and may become severe. It is at this point in his spiritual life that he may have "second thoughts" about his calling and commitment. He may make excuses about keeping God's commandments, and he may even give up. Christ says that this person is not fit for the kingdom of God.
What FIVE THINGS should we remember in the middle of trials?
What should we do when we are in the middle of trials and feel we have reached a point of spiritual fainting? We should pray and ask God to strengthen us and remember the below comforting and encouraging scriptures. They can help inspire us to continue to "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called . . ." (1Timothy 6:12):
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and HE SHALL DIRECT YOUR PATHS." (Proverbs 3:5-6)
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is COMMON to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make THE WAY OF ESCAPE, that you may be able to bear it." (1Corinthians 10:13)
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to FORGIVE US our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9)
"I can do ALL THINGS through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13)
"And we know that ALL THINGS work together for GOOD to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)