Sounds to me like you're the one not taking sin seriously. Let me get this straight: so I can cheat on my wife, never share a dime with the poor, drink myself stupid, eat to my heart's content, and even murder that neighbor that plays his stupid music at top volume all day and night -- and, as long as I have faith -- I'm still saved? Tell me if I'm getting this right. (from DavidW)
Let's see if DavidW does indeed take sin as seriously as he should, as seriously as Jesus did.
Matthew 5:20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
-cheat on my wife
Matthew 5:27 "You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
DavidW is a man. I'm not going out on a limb in hypothesising that he's done that a few times. Today.
-never share a dime with the poor
Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?"
How much is enough? Does DavidW give as much as he's supposed to? Does he always put his neighbor's needs before his own, "considering others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3)?
-drink myself stupid
I'm willing to give him a pass, on his word that he's unlike most of the other Eastern Orthodox I've met in my life on this count. But can he be sure that he's never given himself over to anything that unduly influences his senses, intellect, and judgment? Never unwisely or in an unholy manner wasted his time?
-eat to my heart's content
Has DavidW never eaten to his heart's content? Has he never thrown excess food out, when he could have been sure to follow Christ's command: "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment. 13 “But when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous" (Luke 14:12-14)?
Has he never indulged in the delight of a Snickers or a Coca-Cola when that money could've gone to a much better purpose, like feeding hungry children in Africa or making sure all the EO priests in his state had enough funds to pay their bills? Not even once?
-even murder that neighbor
Matthew 5:21 "You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22 “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell."
So how well is DavidW "considering others better than himself" in this regard? Is it not better to forgive and allow that noisy neighbor to enjoy himself than to be angry? Is DavidW 100% sure that his anger and irritation are 100% holy and justifiable before a holy God Who "will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus" (Rom 2:16)? "21 Would not God find this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart" (Ps 44:21).
So the answer to DavidW's question is: Yes, IF you have faith. The point of the biblical teaching, esp. that of James and 1 John, is that one's faith is seen as true by one's actions, and such actions reveal an unregenerate character. But ultimately, we don't know whom God has saved for sure; only He knows. Some live their whole life in a holy manner AND have true faith. Some imitate the holy manner in some, or even many, ways, and DO NOT have true faith - Matt 7:21-23. Some pass thru times in their lives in which they disobey God badly, but are indeed God's elect and have true faith, like King David, the Apostle Peter, Gideon, Samson.
Of course, such a lifestyle SHOULD also cause the man to doubt his own salvation. But it's not like a man can have infallible knowledge of his own salvation either. And that's the other angle to this question that is less relevant at this time.
I told DavidW, and still maintain, that his position equates to his not taking sin seriously. I was trying to help him see that he's making it about works! He says on the one hand that works ARE faith, like "baptism is faith" and other such nonsense, and then turns back around and acts all shocked when I tell him that God saves sinners through Christ's perfect and finished sacrifice. His view makes those men I named not saved. It's biblically backwards, but humanly forwards. What we all need a biblical perspective, that's the problem, and the EO position is not alone among the smorgasbord of man-centered religion out there. EOdoxy just sounds more Christian.
Given DavidW's intense and unremitting guilt before God for his unjust, evil, and repeated, consistent(ly bad) actions, what amount of "doing better" will outweigh the many times he has broken and will break the holy commandments of God? Does baptism do it? How about giving more money to the poor? Saying an extra set of prayers every single night? Giving up football on Sundays so he can work in a soup kitchen for several hours? At what point do the scales tip in a man's favor?
No, rather, as Scripture explains:
Romans 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.
Isaiah 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.