Abortion/sin effect on salvation

I’m very thankful for this forum where we can respectfully discuss very difficult topics without being subjected to hateful responses, as happens so frequently on social media.

Before I ask these questions, let me say that I am a woman and I know this topic is very sensitive.

Assuming abortion is the intentional ending of innocent life and is a sin:

  • If Christians agree to allow exceptions for abortion/termination of pregnancy, does that mean those Christians are not really saved?
  • Similarly, if Christians agree to allow exceptions for ANY SIN, does that mean those Christians are not really saved?

I am not referring to people who are actually committing the sin – but to people who are agreeing that the sin can be committed under certain circumstances.

Thank you in advance for your sincere responses!

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@Deliamj I agree with you that we are very fortunate to have RZIM Connnect to ask tough questions. It is such a blessing to me. May I ask a question to better understand where you are coming from? Are you feeling frustrated with Christians who claim to know Christ but seem to compromise when it comes to sin?

While I wait to hear back from you I would also like to share this post by @SeanO about salvation. What do you think about how he describes the purpose of the gospel of John and 1 John. Does this help you in anyway?

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@Deliamj Great question :slight_smile: While we cannot know the heart of any specific individual—only God sees the heart—we do know from Scripture that Christians have to grow in maturity. When we are first saved, we are like newborn spiritual babies and we may not be able to discern good from evil. Part of growing in our faith is learning to discern good from evil (as it says in Hebrews).

So a Christian can truly be saved and be mistaken about sin, but that would be a sign of immaturity in their faith. It is also dangerous to remain permanently immature—it is important that we be making progress and growing in righteousness (2 Peter 1).

Hebrews 5:11-14 - We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Ephesians 4:14-16 - Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

1 John 1:12-14 - I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.

I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

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Thank you for your response.
You want to understand where I’m coming from. Yes, my question is about compromising when it comes to sin, but I’m not frustrated about it. I would like to understand theologically how we determine the state of our salvation - are we “not saved” when we compromise about sin? I asked about abortion because that sin seems to be more important and controversial than other sins.

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Thank you.
That is a good point “So a Christian can truly be saved and be mistaken about sin, but that would be a sign of immaturity in their faith”.
Yes only God sees the heart. So I don’t think Christians should judge other Christians as not being saved - how can we know? I think it’s better to discuss and share scripture about any actions/words that are sinful than label a person as “un-saved”.

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Hi Delia,

I can appreciate your question here, especially that you didn’t simply isolate one sin but rather equated one sin to all sin. It seems like you’re getting at whether they allowance of a believer for sin under certain circumstances is ok to do, and further more if that has implications for salvation.

First let me commend you on pointing out that sin is sin is sin—no matter what that sin may be. To an infinitely holy and perfect God, all sin is equally distant from His standard of perfection, and everyone of us is guilty of sin, for the Bible tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

Fortunately, it is not us humans who get to allow for sin, decide what constitutes it, nor identify conditions when it is permissible. If we do, we are deceiving ourselves—in fact, that would be determining the standard for good and evil, which was what happened during the fall of man (Genesis 3:5) in the first place. So, you can rest assured that none of us (believers or not) get to play God and determine when something is a sin. That said, are there certain times when a sin could be used by God to bring about good or to work for his glory? Absolutely. But that never changes the nature of the sin in question (I’m thinking of David and Bathsheba here, in 2 Samuel 11). For “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans‬ ‭8:28‬)

Some believers during the Holocaust were hiding Jews to protect them in Europe. If the Nazi’s came to their door and inquired if there were any Jews, those individuals could have said no in order to protect the Jews. And some did just that. In God’s eyes, one could ask, wouldn’t that seem like a time where that sin of lying could be excused? Us humans might find it easy to say yes, however, we don’t see allowance for that in scripture. The same would be true for any other sin, including murder (e.g., abortion, to speak to your question specifically). So, individuals who would’ve lied to protect Jews in World War II would be in a position to have sin to confess, just as would someone who, as you put it, makes allowance for abortion under certain conditions. But we know that Christ died for our sins, and this is of first importance that he did (1 Corinthians 15:3) this for all our sins past, present, and future. That means even those sins we commit after being saved. There’s true freedom in that, because it means that we don’t have to worry about jeopardizing our salvation by future sin if we are in Christ, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-9‬). And so, a believer needs to repent of, and confess, their sins regularly but need not worry that they have fallen out of grace because of their daily sin. How do we know this? 1 John‬ ‭1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

So, we can have great confidence in what scripture has to say about the issue of sin’s effect on salvation—that sin doesn’t nullify or void our salvation. Jesus laid this out clearly for Peter and the Apostles when he washed their feet, saying “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” (John‬ ‭13:10‬)

Jesus is the one who has cleansed us of our sin through His blood on the cross. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John‬ ‭8:36‬). And that means that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬).

Now, to be clear, no one gets to set allowances for any sin, but should they choose to do so (and subsequently sin as a result of their decisions) they can confess that sin and be forgiven. They do not need to worry about their salvation being lost.

One other thing to consider is this: for those who completely disregard God’s word and commandments, or who do not acknowledge and confess their sin, there is a different issue to be concerned with altogether—and that is whether they are truly saved in the first place. For those who are saved have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them, sanctifying and growing them spiritually to maturity each and every day so that their lives will show marked (but not to be confused with perfect) change after being saved. That’s why Jesus told his disciples that the sign of a true follower of Christ is that they will bear spiritual fruit in their lives, saying: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (John‬ ‭15:16). So it could be in question as to whether or not someone has truly received the gift of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone if they continue to live in a constant state of sin, turn a blind eye toward their own sin, or do not acknowledge and repent of the sin in their own life. For we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24), and “Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin” (John‬ ‭8:34‬). So, if you continue to serve Satan by being fully of this world and not putting of the old self and putting on the new self (Ephesians 4:22), it’s possible that you have not truly committed your life to Christ and accepted the free gift of His grace.

I hope this is helpful to you and gives you some clarity on an important question. Making allowances for sin under certain considerations would not have Biblical support, and would in no way be any “less” of a sin; however, sin under any circumstances can be confessed by a believer and will be forgiven by God. The only instance the Bible talks about that deviates from this comes in Mark‬ ‭3:29‬ when Jesus said ”whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” Here Jesus is referring to someone who denies all the work of the Holy Spirit, which leads ultimately to a rejection of Christ, and thus God altogether, which would be impossible for a believer to do, because “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit.” ‭‭(1 Corinthians‬ ‭12:3‬) Likewise, no one in whom the Holy Spirit swells can deny Christ.

So, I would close by asking you to consider not what effect sin has on salvation, but rather how salvation affects sin. Because in the end, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬)

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Thank you for your very detailed response with biblical references. They will help me in my bible studies and are useful to refer to when I talk with family members who get very emotional about this topic.

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@Deliamj I am delighted to see you have received some good answers from some others. I am currently taking the Why Suffering module with RZIM Academy and the question of the atrocities committed by “Christians” during the Crusades and the Inquisition came up as well as, slavery and the oppression of women throughout our history.

The following is a direct quote from the lecture notes:

It is true that people have done horrible things in the name of Christ. However, it is a matter of intellectual honesty to ask: did they do so because they took Jesus too seriously, or did they do so because they did not take Jesus seriously enough?

Look to Christ

Jesus to his disciples: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

Even if they claim to be followers of Jesus, the evidence is clear that they follow neither what he did, nor what he taught.

If by Christianity we mean following Christ Jesus, we can and should by all means criticize the aberrations and abuses of the past and the present but also be clear that these are not legitimate applications of what Christianity really is intrinsically.

I thought this connected with your question but I thoroughly agree with Sean’s comment, that only God truly knows our heart.

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@brianlalor Thanks for your comments. That sounds like a great topic you are taking at the RZIM Academy.
I believe that only God truly knows our hearts, as Sean said, but I think we all know our own hearts too. If we are truly a follower of Jesus and make decisions or do things that we know are wrong according to God’s word, the Holy Spirit within us should stir our hearts to feel bad about it and want to ask for forgiveness. If we don’t feel that stir, in my opinion, that would be a cause for concern.

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Hi, Delia. Abortion is a challenging issue to address, and one on which there is a degree of dissent within the Christian community. Judging other believers is a risky business and must be done very carefully with a clear conscience (first remove the plank from your own eye), in humility and with a motivation of love and restoration toward the sinning person. Yet, according to I Corinthians 5, there are times when, unfortunately, it is necessary. In a general sense, each of us is affected by the world, the flash and the demonic to view various sins (e.g., premarital sex, drinking, gossip, lying, judging inappropriately) in non-biblical ways. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, people tend to rationalize (or ignore altogether) their own sins and judge those of others. If everyone who does this is unsaved, Heaven is going to be a very empty place! When a true Christian allows exceptions for sin–any sin, including abortion, it can mean one of several things: 1. The Christian is ill-informed, either biblically illiterate or confused by incorrect or inadequate teaching. 2. The Christian is subconsciously allowing the secular world view to color his or her view of sin, sort of a blindspot in one’s worldview. 3. The area is a gray area in which Bible-believing Christians are not in complete agreement (e.g., divorce). 4.The Christian is deliberately bowing to social pressure or other factors rather than to God’s expressed will. The first two are not willful sin, and do not reflect on the person’s salvation status. In the third, Christians are not omniscient and sometimes misunderstand the scriptures or fail to recognize the Holy Spirit’s leading. Believers still here on earth are not yet glorified and so still suffer from the noetic effects of sin (the way sin affects the reasoning abilities of our fallen minds). Again, this does not mean they are unsaved, just finite in their capacity to understand and so imperfectly apply what God has revealed, The fourth case is more troubling and may be what you are thinking of, Delia. When one knows God’s will and deliberately chooses another path, one is in rebellion. Repeated and longstanding rebellion hardens the heart. This is a very dangerous condition. At the very least, this is backsliding and hindering one’s relationship with God, inviting divine chastening. If prolonged, questions about whether or not the person truly has been saved arise: if something other than glorifying God is the focus of one’s thoughts and deeds, God is not the real Lord of one’s life. Lord and Savior is a “package deal”–if Jesus is not Lord of one’s life, in truth not just in thought or word, then He is not Savior, and that person is not really saved. In the first two cases, we pray for the person’s growth as a believer and try to be available to help. In the third, we pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, for a humble, teachable spirit, and for unity, accepting whatever He reveals. In the fourth, we pray for the person to repent and to turn (or return) to God.

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Hi Katherine,
Thanks for your perspective. Referring to your statement "When a true Christian allows exceptions for sin–any sin, including abortion, it can mean one of several things: " - where did you get the four points - from C.S. Lewis?

Thank you!