1 Corinthians 9:27 and 1 Corinthians 10:12
- But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27)
- Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12)
These are verses referred to by some to convince you that you can lose your salvation. It's made clear, however, by many other verses that this is an impossibility. If you're adopted into God's family and called a son, and you go out and party and commit many sins, are you no longer a son? Is God's promise of eternal life when we believe the gospel determined by your behavior? Or is a promise with God a promise?
- In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (Titus 1:2)
- And this is the promise that he hath promised us, [even] eternal life. (1 John 2:25)
1 Corinthians 9:27
Looking to the surrounding context, Paul is talking a lot about the liberties that we as Christians enjoy, and how they can affect other people who we're trying to reach for God:
- ¶ All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
- But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend. (1 Corinthians 8:9-13)
- ¶ For though I be free from all [men], yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all [men], that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with [you]. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
- Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, [that] eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you [to a feast], and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth [is] the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another [man's] conscience? (1 Corinthians 10:25-29)
In relation to this, in Corinthians 9 Paul is making the case for himself being an apostle, because people are questioning his behavior (I'm guessing because of something that he did in his liberty), by saying they should know he is an apostle because they've been saved by his teaching:
- ¶ Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 9:1-2)
These are the effects of having liberty, as we who are saved enjoy. Other people look at us and make judgements about who we are and what we believe by the works they can see. Unbelievers can't be reached as easily by someone living a carnal lifestyle, because that visible conviction is missing, and the unbeliever will dismiss the credibility of the prospective soul winner. Given this theme, 1 Corinthians 9:27 can be understood as talking about the consequences to others of living carnally. We will no longer be an effective witness, we will be ignored by the unsaved, cast away.
1 Corinthians 10:12
In Corinthians 10, there is another verse, verse 12, that is claimed to have a similar connotation to 1 Corinthians 9:27, that we can lose our salvation. A similar answer can be provided, that we will be ineffective for the Lord if we fall into sin. You can again see that's Paul's aim in Chapter 10:
- Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all [men] in all [things], not seeking mine own profit, but the [profit] of many, that they may be saved. (1 Corinthians 10:31-33)
Again, concerning 1 Corinthians 10:12, I'd like to look at the context, but to make another point. At the start of the Chapter, you can see that he's describing saved men, as they were partakers of Christ, and how they had issues somewhere along the way:
- ¶ Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (1 Corinthians 10:1-5)
And then a clearer description of the sins they committed, and the earthly consequences of them:
- ¶ Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as [were] some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. (1 Corinthians 10:6-11)
Verse 12 is the next verse after the above passage, which obviously is related to the verses before. And the verses following 12 say that God makes a way for us to escape, and that we should run when temptations come:
- There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it]. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. (1 Corinthians 10:13-14)
Notice how the consequences above are earthly, though. People were killed, their physical, earthly lives were ended in one example. In another, they were killed by serpents, and in another they were destroyed. The text does not say they went to hell, or that they lost their salvation.
This is a subject that brings a lot of confusion to the table, the difference between the things in the Bible about the flesh and those of the spirit, and when the text is talking about either one. I didn't understand this for a long time, and I've attempted to explain it here.
This isn't to say that there aren't heavenly consequences to our misbehavior, as I personally think some people may be saved at a different time because of it (at the very least), but it is to say that's not contextually what verse 12 is talking about. It's talking about falling into temptation and how it can destroy earthly lives, the consequences to ourselves.