“I attend a church that the pastor is convinced you can sin enough to lose your salvation. He claims if you are not changed at the time of being saved you were not saved to begin with. “The renewing of your mind” is when you accept Jesus into your life. This has really given me doubts of my own salvation because I am a smoker and struggle with lust. I am married and my wife and I have had several arguments over the once saved always saved doctrine. Also, my pastors saying is “if you’re not saved get saved, and if your saved stay saved.”
You bring up some excellent points. The Bible is clear when it comes to the doctrine of eternal security. It is the gospel message. Once a person places their trust in Jesus for salvation they are saved forever. Nothing can separate them from the love of God. See Romans 8:38-39. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If a person could lose their salvation, then it would imply that Jesus was not able to pay for a certain sin or a certain amount of sin. We discussed this in some detail last week in our exploration of John 10:28-30.
There needs to be a clarification regarding the renewing of your mind being the acceptance of Jesus into one’s life. The verse simply does not mean what your pastor says it means. Let’s look at verse 1 in Romans 12:1-2. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” The audience being addressed is brethren. These are saved individuals. Paul is pleading with them to live a life with their body and their mind that is not conformed to the world. These people are already saved! They are not working to stay, but rather to prove the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God! Renewing of the mind is walking in the Spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh.
When we become saved, we are given a new nature. Consider this passage found in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” The thing “passed away” is the penalty of sin and the certain separation from God we once faced as lost me. Now, we have a new nature, a new ability to walk with the Lord. Continue is verse 18. “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” The ministry of reconciliation is best understood as the ministry of removing that which was in the way, the penalty of sin! Sin has separated us from God and Jesus is the One Who died in our place. He paid for all our sin and removed, that is, to reconcile, us back to God.
Paul pleads with the Romans in Romans 7 to stop living as a slave to sin since our sin debt has been paid! Your pastor claims that a person can be lost by how they live. If this were true, then how can we see this illustrated in the Bible? It is not found anywhere! There is no account of a person becoming lost after they have been saved. Consider these verses in Romans 7:15-25. “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after 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 shall deliver me from the body of this 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.”