I’m sure most of you heard about a couple of prominent Christian leaders who recently announced they are changing their mind about following the Lord and have decided to abandon their faith. It’s true that all of us make our own decisions every day, but this is different and much more serious. Our spiritual life is the most important aspect of our journey and for the Christian, it is literally the meaning and purpose of our existence. We become excited and filled with hope when someone embraces the gospel and turns their life over to Christ, but are stunned when we hear about a member of God’s family turning away from him. I’m sad not only for these individuals but also for seekers who might have been thinking about taking a closer step toward God and are now having second thoughts. In a world permeated with discouragement and confusion, it’s disheartening and difficult to understand how a person who has experienced the joys of salvation can suddenly declare they no longer believe it anymore.
Some might be curious with how a person could be saved and then be lost, especially with many Protestant groups who acknowledge that salvation is a one-time confession. For Orthodox Christians, the idea of losing one’s salvation is much more acceptable since they believe that salvation is a process of being saved instead of the concept of eternal security. With so many different doctrinal interpretations and without walking through a theological minefield, let’s just say that whatever your persuasion, we can agree that walking away from God is very dangerous, to say the least. We realize there have always been individuals who have drifted away from former convictions, and it’s prophesied in I Timothy chapter four and II Thessalonians chapter two, that in the end times people will continue to fall away from the faith and submit to seducing spirits. This “falling away” is a translation of the Greek apostasia, meaning departure, rebellion, betrayal, defection, or apostasy. One indicator of rejecting holy truth is ignoring the reverential fear of God, which is why it’s so critical to develop a constant awareness of his presence. Another sign is developing an ungrateful attitude and allowing arrogance to corrupt and control our thinking. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” Hebrews 2:1.
I feel it’s important to discuss this phenomenon and be prepared to face even stronger hostile rejection of the Bible and even God himself by those who disagree with God. We realize we cannot prevent people from doing whatever they want, we can only present and demonstrate the truth and of course, pray for them. God has given mankind the free will to choose whom they will serve and likewise will judge each person according to our decisions. Nonetheless, I would like for us to at least consider why someone who has tasted the goodness of God and has studied and embraced the scriptures would publicly deny and denounce their spiritual views. I understand that we all go through normal seasons of discouragement and difficult times when we might have doubts, or circumstances that may test our faith, but these are just temporary. The Bible talks about back-sliding and drifting away, but to declare to the world that you are absolutely finished serving and trusting God forever is something much more serious.
What would it take to convince a person there could be something or someone else that is worth more praise than Jesus who gave his life so we could be ransomed forever? What sin could be more valuable, or satisfying, and more alluring than the glories of God’s presence? What could be more joyful, and peaceful than trusting in God’s divine truth, which cannot fail? Since temptation can influence the mind and have such a powerful stronghold within the conscience, it is heartbreaking to see that many are being held captive in the bondage of deception. When a person ceases to believe in God, it is worth considering who they are serving now and what consequences will this bring? Taking a closer look at 2 Peter, chapter 2, the question remains for those who turn away; did they ever have a true personal relationship with Christ, or was their former religious lifestyle only based on an emotional feeling?