“18 do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. 19 Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in. 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.”
Note verse 20, “but you stand fast through faith“. This also is part of Condition 3 of salvation, that you must hold steadfast to your faith until your last dying breath. Here, again the Bible tells us that we can lose our salvation, and this condition is that we must refrain from pride and arrogance. The Bible says here that we will be “cut off” if we are prideful about our salvation.
To interpret this plainly, consider a Christian who becomes prideful in their heart. They say to themselves, “I am so great, because God has chosen me among all these people. It is because I am better than those pathetic creatures, so I get salvation because I am so great and they do not get it”. This is the kind of attitude that we must be wary of and to make sure that we never have. We must “fear” (v. 20) that at any time if we become prideful, God may choose to “cut us off” from our salvation (v. 22).
Saul was a prime example of how pride can be your downfall. As we discussed in the Third Condition of Salvation, in 1 Samuel 15:24-26 God rejected Saul because of Saul’s disobedience. Saul was notoriously prideful, and in his pride and arrogance he became blinded to what he was doing that displeased God.
Saul had taken it for granted the greatness that God had bestowed upon him as king of Israel. Because Saul in his pride forgot that his position was a gift from God, Saul sought the approval of others over the approval of God. 1 Samuel 15:24 says that Saul “feared the people and obeyed their voice“. The reason he feared the people is because he was in it for personal gain and did not fear the consequences of disobedience to God more than what others thought of him.
Likewise, we cannot forget that our eternal salvation is a gift from God, and at any time God can take this away from us. If we err like Saul and become prideful and conceited, looking to others for personal glory and ignoring God’s mandates, then we could suffer the same consequences as Saul did – removal from our position which was so graciously given to us by God.
Since our eternal life and salvation is in the hands of God, we must ensure that we never become puffed up so as to become prideful and arrogant about our salvation. Therefore, salvation is contingent upon the condition that we must remain humble and submissive to God, as it is put in Philippians 2:12, “in fear and trembling“.