Today we’re going to answer an #AskFOI question that came from Linda on Facebook. Linda asked, “In the Old Testament could people lose their salvation after they believed, or were they sealed forever?”
Linda, this is a great question! The work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is much different than the work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, and yet the Holy Spirit has never changed.
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This is a great promise that Paul records concerning the Holy Spirit, that a believer in Jesus has eternal security because the Holy Spirit “sealed” that person, and has also acted as a down payment of the future promises to come. The Holy Spirit has literally indwelled New Testament believers in Jesus as a down payment for the future fulfillment of God’s great promise.
However, the Holy Spirit functioned differently with people in the Old Testament. Unlike the New Testament, the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers in the Old Testament. Instead, the Holy Spirit came to specific people to accomplish tasks that were commissioned by God. For instance, the Holy Spirit came to Bezalel in Exodus 31:3, who was given orders to build the Tabernacle. The Holy Spirit assisted Joshua in Numbers 27:18 in order to lead the people of Israel after Moses. Finally, a common person the Holy Spirit would come to in order to give instructions and guidance would be the kings of Israel.
The Holy Spirit came and anointed both King Saul and King David, however, interestingly the Holy Spirit could also be removed from these people. Because of Saul’s sin the Holy Spirit was taken from him. Also, King David repented to the Lord because of his sin with Bathsheba, cried out in Psalm 51:11, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” This is much different from what the New Testament teaches about the Holy Spirit, that a New Testament believer is eternal security is sealed.
Linda, to answer your question as to whether or not an Old Testament saint could lose their salvation after they believed, I have to go back to the fact that that word “sealed” is never found in the Old Testament with reference to an Old Testament saints salvation. Because that word “sealed” is not found there, I do not believe that they had the same eternal security that we do as believers in Jesus in the New Testament.
Actually, I believe that was one of the promises that God made in the Old Testament was that the Spirit would come and indwell those who believe (Ezk. 36:26). Therefore, I do not believe that Old Testament saints had eternal security.
However, I will say this. I do believe that God’s grace has always remained the same in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Exodus 34:6-7 God gives us a picture of His character and who He is. “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…”
God’s grace is extremely deep both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. So let me say, as a believer today we should be praising God for the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives because He promises to those who believe eternal security, and I say that’s why Paul concluded Ephesians 1:13-14 with, “… to the praise of His glory!”