“Oh no. God, please no. I’ve fallen away! It’s too late for me to repent!”
Religious fear ruined my life for so long, I was even afraid to read my Bible. Certain verses would instantly petrify me like those goats who freeze when afraid–stiff as a board, falling over. Have you ever had a dream when you’re so frightened you can’t move? That’s exactly how I felt because of false, fear-centered teaching.
I was taught to hold up certain individuals onto a pedestal because they were on stage behind a pulpit. It didn’t matter what they said, I needed to believe it! They weren’t teaching me the gospel; they may as well have been expounding on the life of Mickey Mouse. Truthful content wasn’t the focus, the person teaching was, their opinion was, and don’t you dare question them or you’ll become the #1 enemy of the church! Rumors will fly about your disobedience and disrespect toward their man of God! Cold shoulders galore! Pastor-protecting vipers will strike vigorously, even if you kindly rebuttal their doctrine!
Unfortunately, I was influenced to believe blindly because their title was pastor, as if they had some special powers the rest of us didn’t. I’m not bashing pastors, I love them very much. I’m bashing holding pastors higher than the rest of us. Some assemblies lift them up so high, Pastor So-and-So appears to be more important than Christ Himself. I’m not okay with this.
With all due respect to pastors–and although this gift is extremely important–the word pastor is only mentioned once in the New Testament. Don’t you think if being pastor-focused was the gospel message, the epistles would be riddled with instructions toward this truth? Yet it’s completely absent. Why?
Because we are all equal members of one Body.
Thankfully the Spirit of Christ didn’t let me stay in such a fog of quasi-grace, Covenant-mixing, and sometimes blatant lies about God. One of the most petrifying passages for me (taught out of context, of course) was found in Hebrews 6. The anti-Christ view of this section of Scripture goes like this:
If you sin too big or too often, as a Christian, it’s too late for you. You can never repent your way back into grace. You have permanently fallen away from Jesus, now you’re damned to hell.
Oh how Satan loved this. According to those who belittled the power of the Cross, this passage “proved” I sinned my way out of salvation “all the time.” My sinful actions and attitudes overrode the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice.
Who in the world do they think I am? As if a created being could possibly do anything greater than what Christ did at Golgotha. No wonder so many people hate Christians; it’s because of garbage such as this. Enormous lies about the power of the blood of Jesus which cause horror or down-right hypocrisy.
Once the Holy Spirit began to teach me just how dominant Jesus’ blood actually was and is, nobody could convince me that any sin in all the world, repeated or not, could Trump what the Cross has done.
“Lies, Matt! Hebrews 6 and Galatians 5 is clear! You can easily fall away from grace!”
Do you see how they shout? It’s sad. Most who struggle with legalism have to be uber-aggressive, disrespectful, and condescending in order to get their point across. They puff up because deep in their own heart they know if what they’re saying is true, then they are without hope as well. Yes, some are coy and passive-aggressive as they display their sanctimonious tendencies, but they too understand the bedrock of their theology is paper-thin. They know they fail every day. We all do. This is why James said, “We all stumble in many ways” (see James 3:2). But thanks be to God, we are not our failures, nor our successes.
There are only two spots in the New Testament with the words fallen away. They can be found in Hebrews 6 and Galatians 5. How about we look at both of them in context to discover we have nothing to fear? First, Hebrews.
Unlike any other epistle, the book of Hebrews created extreme confusion and terror for me until I understood the New Covenant. Now it’s just plain beautiful! Here’s what you need to know before you read a single word:
Christians have nothing to fear about anything written in Hebrews.
When we begin to feel panic as a believer while reading Scripture, we should pause and regroup in our mind. Don’t forget what John taught us. If our feelings are fearful that’s because we’re imagining ourselves being punished. However, Jesus was already punished for us in full! God’s love is perfect and casts out all fear! (See 1 John 4:18; from Paul: Romans 5:1,9, 6:23).
The truth about Hebrews is that it’s meant to build confidence in the power of Jesus Christ, not cause believers to shake in our boots. There are zero threats for Christians in this writing, nor in any book of the Bible. The only threats are directed toward those who reject faith in Messiah. It’s impossible for a Christian to do this because we’ve already been born again and our new supernatural birth is final. We can’t reject being born because Jesus would have to die again–that’s not happening (see Hebrews 1:3, 7:24-25, John 1:12-13, 3:6-7, 2 Timothy 2:13).
Without further ado, let’s look at this “fallen away” section of the Bible. I’m going to underline what we really need to focus on for proper contextual exegesis:
“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
We must look at the whole of Hebrews to get the deepest context, not just these three verses–and we’ll get to that. We must also zoom in on this single chapter, even though when this was written it wasn’t broken down into chapters; this letter was one document, beginning to end. Chapters and verses were added hundreds of years later after the canon of the Bible was complete. This was done for easy searching and referencing, not to create what many context-twisters have demonically developed over time: verse-itus.
There are two different ways to look at Hebrews 6:4-6; in my opinion both can be true because both are centered on the authority of Jesus Christ. I have trusted New Covenant colleagues who see this section of Scripture completely different than one another, but both have the same result:
Christians are safe.
Before I list both views, let’s be certain to understand that “falling away from grace” can only happen in our identity if we’ve never allowed grace to latch onto us. It is by grace we’ve been saved, through faith. Jesus is grace and He holds us secure (see John 1:17). It’s never been about us holding onto Him, but the opposite. In fact, as much as it might hurt someone’s ego, we’re not holding onto Him by what we do or don’t do. Such would negate grace completely (see Romans 11:6, Ephesians 2:8-9).
On the foundation of this truth, Hebrews 6:4-6 can have two views:
Either way we have the same result:
THE CHILD OF GOD IS FREE FROM ETERNAL DANGER BECAUSE OF JESUS.
If we keep reading, Hebrews 6:16-19 informs us that the promise between the Father and Son is final and this is the anchor for our soul! The legalistic Jew reading this letter needed to stop repenting from Mosaic customs and finalize their faith in Jesus. The ceremonial washing of hands, temple works, discussing the resurrection of the dead, and fear of eternal judgment? They needed to do a 180! They had to turn away from that stuff because it’s worthless now that Christ has come!
Jesus is never going to offer His sacrifice again and again and again! The following chapters continue explaining these truths:
Christ’s blood is better than the blood of bulls and goats. Human Levitical priests not only die off but have to offer blood for their own sins, neither truth applies to Jesus. Christ is compared to Melchizedek, a person from their own scriptures who’s without genealogy. The promise God made to their forefather, Abraham, and how that promise was fulfilled in Jesus, the author defines and clarifies. The importance of understanding and believing in the power and finality of the blood of Jesus and what it does for us and to us–such is spelled out plainly. Jesus Christ’s single blood offering in the real temple in heaven forgives us and sanctifies us and makes us perfect–completely! This could never be done through the Mosaic Covenant! Read all the way through the book of Hebrews and these facts jump off the pages! It’s all about Jesus and how the patriarchs and matriarchs longed for what we now have!
Jesus will never die again so we can be bold and confident! We don’t need to shrink back toward the Law! Christ is the author and perfecter of our faith–not Moses! He’s much greater than the old priesthood and repeated sacrifices! We have a once-for-all Sacrifice! We have a union with God through a single Mediator who lives forever!
As for the Galatians 5, “fallen away from grace” verse? We get the same result as we read it in the light of the Cross:
“You who are trying to be justified by the Law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
There’s no need to go deep into this passage, just read the entire chapter for context. Paul was furious over some Judaizers coming in behind his gospel teaching of Christ alone; they were attempting to mix in the Law with Jesus. He was so mad about their Covenant-mixture instructions he told them to cut off their genitals.
This is not Christians who blew it, but those who had been led astray in what they were being taught. Law. Moses. 613 commandments, not just ten plus tithing. This is the same thing the readers of Hebrews were being told to repent away from as well!
Christians cannot fall away from grace in their identity because their identity is one with the Son of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:17, Colossians 3:3). Can we fall away in our thinking? Yes. This is why we must preach Jesus Christ alone and Him crucified–not a drop of Moses. We love Moses, but his time was up at the Cross. Jesus replaced him (see 1 Corinthians 2:2, Galatians 3:2, 5:9, Hebrews 3:1-6, John 1:17).
So today, my friends, know this: Don’t ever be afraid of falling away, believer. Jesus has such a tight grip on you there’s nothing in all of creation that can open His hand (see John 10:28). Even when you think you’ve done this, you haven’t. You too are created. You aren’t more powerful than Him! (See Romans 8:38-39). Enjoy this blessed assurance and be yourself!
A prayer for you: Father, today I’d like to give you thanks for the New Covenant. The promise you and Jesus made at the Cross, and you both being two unchangeable parties–God and God? I wish I knew this all along. I wish I understood that YOU are holding onto ME, not the other way around. You’ll never let me fall away! What an amazing gift! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. For some, the New Covenant is starting to make sense! They’ve been taught a mixture, but your Spirit is sifting through the truth and lies in their minds! Take them deeper, Dad, so they can enjoy what Jesus did at the Cross even more! I also know there are unbelievers reading this. Keep letting them know how much you care for them. Keep knocking on their hearts, gently, as you always do. No matter if they’re 9 or 90, you want to join them forever, and you will, by their one-time faith in Jesus! Amen.
This devotional is from my upcoming book, The Christian Identity, Volume 3. Check out my other bestselling books here!