Do Christians lose salvation when they sin?
We do not lose our salvation by sinning. If we did, none of us could remain saved very long. More than a few scriptures affirm the reality of sin’s presence in us all — all our earthly lives (1 Kings 8:46; Psalm 53:3; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23). The plainest New Testament text in this regard is 1 John 1:8, written to believers in Jesus: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
In the next chapter, Apostle John goes on to say that God’s perfect will is for His children not to sin: “these things I write to you, so that you may not sin” (2:1). This is the earnest desire and goal of every Spirit-born Christian. But we’re not there yet. Sin no longer reigns in our lives (Romans 6:12), but it still remains (7:17) in our thoughts (Mark 7:21-23), words (James 3:2), and/or deeds, either by commission or omission (4:17).
That’s why 1 John 2:1 goes on to say, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” That’s also why our Lord taught His followers to pray, “Forgive us our debts” just as frequently, it seems, as we pray for daily bread (Matthew 6:11, 12). This side of eternity, Christians are not yet perfect, but we are forgiven!
Jesus paid for all our life sins by His death on the cross. If we confess them and trust Christ as Savior, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). The Savior who died for our sins according to the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3) is the same risen and ascended Lord who now intercedes for us at God’s throne in heaven (Hebrews 7:23-27). This assures all who trust Christ alone with a faith that works through love (Galatians 5:6) that a wonderful outcome awaits us when we stand before the judgment seat.
Many more verses like those above and below (find and read them all, please!) promise salvation to all who hold fast to the Lord Jesus Christ — and are held by Him — until the end. They point to the truth that we are not lost by any mere sin of human weakness. On the other hand, our willful, sinful refusal to trust Jesus as Savior to the end, or to obey Him as Lord, puts any claim we make to salvation at risk (Matthew 24:12, 13; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 2:2, 3; 3:12-14; 10:26-29, 35-39). If our salvation is lost, it would only be by our negating, undoing, and denying the faith and repentance by which we received it at the start — i.e., by a full-stop rejection of the God we once came to know personally in Christ.
We return to 1 John 1:9 for the final summary and definitive answer to your question: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Praise be unto God for His marvelous mercy to love, accept, and forgive us at the start, and His glorious grace to keep us loved, accepted, and forgiven unto the end (Jude 24, 25).
— Elder Calvin Burrell