I think that scripture is fairly clear that it is our sin, and the death to which it leads, from which we are saved. We were in bondage to sin, but now we’re not, if we have confessed with our mouths/believed in our hearts, been baptized, or whatever your favorite flavor of salvation ritual may be. I think the thing is to recognize that we’re free. So the salvation (the authority to become the sons of God) is there for anyone who believes it’s there through the Name. If you don’t believe it’s there, then for you, it may as well not be there – until you do believe.
So . . . we are saved.
But, we are also BEING saved. It takes a long time for a slave to become free. A woman freed from literal chains of sexual slavery may take many years to recover her virtuous ways of thinking and being, to recover the lost image of purity in her own heart, her sense of her own worthiness and beauty and value. In the mean time, she may voluntarily enslave herself in many ways, including sexually. She is physically free to do as she will, but her psyche is still enslaved in so many ways. It’s easy to sympathize with the lady in question (in theory at least), but harder to sympathize with the man who just can’t seem to conquer his anger. The anger has been conquered in Christ, we say, yet this man continues to yield his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin (as Paul said). It will also take him time to apprehend and build on that freedom that Christ so dearly purchased for him. We ALL need to apprehend this freedom from sin, for even though we are free, sin (if we choose to continue in it) still leads to death. The death spoken of here obviously must refer mostly to spiritual death, since even the most pure amongst us still die physically.
And that leads to the third aspect of salvation --> the adoption of our bodies through the resurrection. Our physical bodies must be renewed and transformed; must die as a seed planted in the ground, in order to give birth to our spiritual bodies (which are still BODIES, according to Paul.) This happens at the resurrection, however that looks.
I think that Paul’s “yet as through fire” and Jesus’ “you will all be sprinkled with fire” can happen now in this life or later in a life to come. This is the final purification of the believer, not necessarily the lake of fire, but the polishing of fire (as it were) for those who are already mostly ready – or at least somewhat advanced along the road. Everyone will travel that road with the help of the Good Shepherd, but some come sooner, some later. All need the freedom from sin that Christ bought for us through His death to this world, to sin, for the sake of Adam’s children. That having been said, all also need to make that journey from the place at which we are when we first believe to the place of blessedness, our forever home. For some, maybe it will be through a metaphorical “lake of fire” (and I think some of us have swum a few laps through that already) or maybe through a sprinkling of fire, but we all will approach the consuming fire who is our God. The question of intensity probably has something to do with the quantity and nature of the things left in us that can and must be consumed, and also, with our determination to hold on to and protect those things from the fire, or with the wiser inclination we ought to have, to present willingly ALL the chaff to be burned away.
That’s salvation, in my understanding – which is, I know, incomplete. Great topic, Lancia!