Q: Sharing with my pastor some days ago about sin and repentance, he pointed out to me Ezekiel 18 and said that any person who sins as a Christian and repents is forgiven and does not lose his/her salvation, but all past rewards are null and void. That basically means that you go back to square one and anything done right up to that sin is wiped out. That does not make sense to me. Could you please explain this chapter?

A: If you look at the context of Ezekiel 18, you will notice there is nothing in that passage that teaches that if you sin, you lose all of the rewards you have built up and you will have to start over again from scratch. That passage is not even dealing with the issue of rewards, but rather the issue of the losing of physical life for being disobedient in the context of the Mosaic Law.

It is true that is is possible for believers to lose their rewards, but not for every sin they commit. It is only believers who have fallen into perpetual sin which brings on the discipline of physical death (like those of Hebrews 6 and I John 5:16) that lose all of their rewards. That was the exception to the rule and most believers do not fall to that degree of sinfulness. The way the Bible describes the issue is that when a believer is living the life he should live, he is building with gold, silver, and precious stone. When he falls into sin, during that time of his life he is building with wood, hay, and stubble. While he is living in sin, he is not increasing his reward, but he is not losing the rewards he has built up so far. Therefore at the Judgment Seat of Messiah, the wood, hay, and stubble will burned away and the gold, silver, and precious stone will be purified. No, believers who sin and then repent do not go back to square one and have to start all over again. They simply go back on the path of sanctification from which they stepped off, then continue to build from there. That would be a more Biblical way of viewing this.