"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1,2).
WHAT SHOULD THE WORD "SALVATION" MEAN TO US? In the real world, there are probably as many different concepts of salvation as there are people who suppose they've been saved. But if and when we desire to be "saved," what should we desire?
Think for a moment about the first stanza of one of our greatest traditional hymns, "Rock of Ages" by A. M. Toplady. The well-known words are these: "Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee; let the water and the blood, from Thy riven side which flowed, be of sin the double cure, cleanse me from its guilt and pow'r." What is the double cure for sin we seek in Christ? From what two things do we desire to be saved? If all we want to be saved from is the guilt of sin, we desire less than we sing when we worship with this song. Beyond wanting absolution from the guilt that would keep us out of heaven, we need to be released from the power of sin. In other words, we need to be saved not just from the consequences of sin, but from sin itself.
Those who would be saved by Jesus Christ are required to accept Him as their Lord, and not just their Savior. His purpose is to reform us and remake us in His image, starting today, and our deepest desire needs to be that reflected in another of the old hymns, "Have Thine Own Way" by Adelaide Pollard: "Have Thine own way, Lord, have Thine own way! Thou are the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still."
Christ went to the Cross to make possible more than mere insurance against the catastrophic loss of our souls in hell, an expedient that would allow us to live in sin until we cry out to be "saved" at the very end. He sacrificed Himself to save us from sin -- both its guilt and its power. Our deliverance from sin will culminate in heaven, but the process is meant to begin right now! Is that the kind of salvation we're interested in?
"'But,' you ask, 'don't all Christians desire to have Christ to be their Savior?' Yes. But here is the catch: many want this only for the next world. They want Christ to help them into heaven when they die. This is not wanting Christ to be your Savior. It must be had in this world. If Christ saves you it must be done in this life, by changing and altering everything about you" (William Law).