A Good General Life?
By Patrick Donahue
Some of those who teach that a Christian receives automatic forgiveness of sins committed in ignorance without actually having to repent and turn from those sins (Ezekiel 18:30), sometimes use the following emotional/prejudicial statement as sort of an argument in support of their doctrine: "you mean a person who lives 'a good general life' for 50 years will be lost if he commits just one sin right before he dies?" What is the Bible answer to that question?
This statement implies salvation by works if I've ever seen one, and thereby contradicts Ephesians 2:8-9. It implies that a person can be forgiven of a sin based upon some past righteous actions. The statement implies that we can trust in our own righteousness (see Titus 3:5) rather than in the blood of Christ. The Bible teaches that sins are only forgiven based upon the shed blood of Christ (Matthew 26:28, John 14:6). The only way a Christian can receive forgiveness (based upon that blood) for any sins he might commit, is to repent of (Acts 8:22) and confess ( I John 1:9) those sins.
The question of whether or not a man will be lost who commits one sin after a lifetime of righteousness is answered directly in the scriptures. Ezekiel 33:12-13 reads, "Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."
[Editors Note: Thanks to Pat Donahue for the article! He may be reached at:Pat.Donahue@MSFC.NASA.GOV, 4607 Old Railroad Bed Road, Harvest, AL 35749, (256) 721-0726.]
Email the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
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