This truth should get our attention. Regardless of how you understand the issue of eternal security of the soul, we must hear what this verse says. The fact of the matter is, if righteous people turn away from the Lord and live lives of sin, they will die in their sins. Whether or not one’s previous righteousness will still get them into heaven only the Lord really knows. He alone knows those who are worthy to be with Him throughout eternity.
Can righteous people turn to sinful ways and act like other sinners? This verse seems to suggest they can. We cannot go beyond what the Scripture says. We know that there are those amongst the righteous who do turn away from God and go their own way. There are those who end up denying the faith and live sinful lives. Were they ever saved? Only the Lord knows the answer to that. All I know is what the Word proclaims.
This verse tells us that all the previous goodness of the righteous who turn from God will be forgotten. It’s a hard truth to digest. Other people can debate what it means. Should we make a distinction between a person’s righteousness and his goodness (see Ezekiel 33:13)? All I know is that God says what He means and means what He says. Does the fact that we live under grace and not the law change this truth? I am not smart enough to give an absolute answer to that one. We are told that their previous goodness will be forgotten and they will die for their sins.
One thing is for certain. I do not want to die for my sins. In order for us to avoid this, we must strive to live righteously at all times. When we are living submissively to Christ, this is a non-issue for us. The Lord blesses and rewards those who live godly lives. When we live righteously before God and die in our righteousness, we will be ushered into heaven when we die. There is no debating the destiny of those who do not wander away from God.