Postcast: Bad Fruit, Chapter 4

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Falling Away

  • The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers. (Luke 12:46)

How does one fall away and when does it happen? No man knows the exact point, but it definitely occurs. Indeed, those about to be cut off from Christ seldom are aware of the hour that Jesus assigns them a place with “unbelievers.” For, as the Scripture above reveals, such believers are caught by surprise; another “blind spot” created by those who believe in eternal security. They cannot read the Son’s face that can flare at any moment. The first church rejoiced in this holy fear, but those who do not believe they can lose their salvation cannot receive it by grace.

Only the Holy Spirit can make clear when someone falls away. And the Holy Spirit does speak this wisdom to disciples willing to listen. There have been times when God clearly told me that someone fell away. Not to pray for or ever hope again that they might be saved. While at other times God told me it was none of my business and, in most situations, I just don’t have a clue. Often the heart of the person in question reveals the truth. Since repentance is a grace given by God, they cannot repent by grace when confronted with sin, a sure sign of being cut off from God. Of course, by repentance we do not mean the shallow, worldly sorrow over sin that is in the church, but true godly sorrow that comes only by the gift of grace.

Matters of the Heart

A man may fall away over something as obvious as murder, or as simple as a meal not eaten in God’s will. Of course, men can be forgiven for these things, but the determining factor is the heart. While most people in the church will boast that God knows their hearts and He knows they love Him, they forget that the heart is deceitful above all things. A deceitful heart, filled with a doctrine of unconditional assurance of salvation, is actually ripe for damnation. The teacher of eternal security offers a doctrine that allows a deceitful heart to justify itself.

A man may fall away by committing sexual immorality or by having a bitter root in the church. Any number of reasons can cause a man to miss the grace of God. As we read the Scripture below, note again that we can “miss” the grace of God. If a man does not seek “holiness,” he cannot “see the Lord.” In other words, he will not just miss a piece of his prize, but grace itself. For this reason, we must make “every effort” and to “see to it” that no one misses the Lord in the church. Like a ball and chain, eternal security slows down any real effort to move forward into the grace of God and Scripture. For to “make every effort” brings on every criticism by those who idolize once saved always saved.

  • Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:14–15)

It is a matter of the heart, not a matter of the Law. For example, take the difference between King Saul and King David. David committed far more obvious sins than Saul. And, on the surface of things, it seems that God rejected Saul over just a minor offense. But Saul’s heart was bad. He was not “a man after God’s own heart” like David. He would never let grace have its way. David was born as much of a sinner as Saul, but he allowed the grace of God to do its work. David permitted God to make and keep his heart soft. For this reason, Proverbs tells us to guard our hearts “above all else.” But if a man cannot fall there is little motivation to guard a heart

  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

    The Voice of the Lord

A man begins to fall away when he gets out of step with the Holy Spirit and hardens his heart to the voice of God. Therefore the Bible tells us to “keep in step with the Spirit.” As he keeps moving further and further away, the Holy Spirit must “shout” louder and louder. Eventually, if the person does not repent and surrender daily, the Holy Spirit simply stops speaking. In due time, God will cut such branches from the vine. Like the fungus that feeds off the nutrients without actually destroying the apple, so too these individuals enjoy being connected to the vine even while they refuse to produce fruit. Simply put, God will not allow such selfish believers to remain on the vine. He demands selfless fruit.

Essentially, a man falls away by refusing to listen to and obey the voice of God. After all, salvation is not a matter of obeying a set of instructions laid out in Scripture. This is about active, daily fellowship, and hearing the voice of the living God—a voice that upholds all of Scripture but reaches beyond mere ink on paper. Many people talk of “having a personal relationship” with God, but live a delusion. Indeed, many people cannot really fall away, because they have nothing to fall away from except their Bible study or church doctrines. In order to truly fall away, a person must first have something to fall away from.

Such deliberate refusal to obey the voice of the Lord places us in grave danger of falling away. By God’s grace He calls us to say “No” to our own will and our own sin but, instead, we say “No” to Him. This rebellion leads to a hardened heart and a corrupted conscience and, if no repentance occurs, there will come a time when “no sacrifice for sins is left.” It doesn’t matter if the issue is over a television show or a ten dollar bill or the length of a person’s hair. When we say “No” to the Lord we place ourselves on a very slippery slope.

It is not true, that no matter what we do, God will always forgive. The man who is in Christ, who tramples, mistreats or insults the grace of God will not be forgiven. A Christian who is one of God’s people will be judged by the Lord for such actions and attitudes of the heart. They cannot look forward to forgiveness, indeed, “only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire.”

  • If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26–31)

If we “deliberately keep on sinning,” even with our righteous sounding excuses like avoiding legalism or opposing salvation by works, there remains “no sacrifice for sins.” If a man has “received the knowledge of the truth” and persists in disobeying the commands and ways of God, then only a “fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire” will occur. Again, it is not works or rewards that burn, but the person himself. Every time someone responds lukewarmly to a command in Scripture or a demand for purity, they “insult the spirit of grace.” For grace gives us the power to obey. Far from exalting God’s grace, eternal security tramples under foot the true grace and mercy of God. It dilutes the saltiness of God and makes dim the righteous demands of the Light of Jesus. Grace is presented only as unmerited favor that allows one to justify the wallowing in their sin. The bumper sticker “Christians aren’t perfect just forgiven” reflects this whitewash approach to God’s grace. A true bumper sticker would reflect what Paul wrote in the Bible, “Christians aren’t perfect, but they are aiming for it. Correct me if you see anything wrong.” After all, Romans is clear. Since we are not under law sin shall not be our master—we should be overcoming sin everyday.

Undoubtedly the writer of Hebrews addressed Christians, because only true believers are “sanctified.” Indeed, the word “sanctified” means to set apart for a holy purpose. A sanctified man has been freed from sin, in other words, born again. In John’s words, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.” But when a man deliberately ignores God and refuses to obey Scriptures, he chokes the new life and begins to fall away. Quite simply, the doctrine of once saved always saved is a license to ignore Scripture and is responsible for the falling away of millions.

Stumbling or Falling?

So, again, how can you tell when someone has fallen away? You can’t, unless the Holy Spirit reveals it. And the Holy Spirit will reveal this to you only if needed. After all, you need to know who to pray for and who not to pray for. We can never judge by outward appearances, because we do not know what God will work in a person’s life.

For one thing, there is a big difference between falling away and merely stumbling as one walks down the narrow road. There is a difference between wandering from the faith and falling from grace. Indeed, at times we can say a certain person has fallen from grace, and yet they still have a slight chance to return. We will explore that more in a later chapter.

A person can stumble yet not fall from grace. Of course, those who reject the idea of falling from grace often take things to extremes in an attempt to make their own position look better. They will object by saying that, if it is true that a person can fall from grace, then anyone who sins will lose their salvation instantly. They love to deliberately confuse stumbling with falling, but, in doing so, they miss the whole point. For, as the following passage reveals:

  • We all stumble in many ways. (James 3:2a)

If a man will humble himself, walk in the Light, and confess his stumbling, the Lord will delight in that man and keep him from falling away. But the man who self-righteously ignores his stumbling, claiming eternal salvation but refusing to confess his sins to God and man, will be allowed to fall. For God does not delight in such a man.

  • If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. (Psalms 37:23–24)

At times individuals will wander from the faith, much like when Peter denied Jesus three times. Actually, we must be very careful here, because Scripture does not say they wandered from the faith, but from the truth. Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times. Peter denied the truth rather than accepting what he didn’t want to believe. Had Peter accepted what Jesus said about him, he would never have stumbled. Many of those who believe in eternal security have had to learn some lessons the hard way because pride always goes before a fall. And eternal security breeds pride and deafens a man to the warnings given by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. What joy could be theirs if they could just humble themselves and say, “Yes, Lord, what you say in the Bible and about my life is true.”

Remember, when Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him, Jesus said, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Some men may wander from the truth to believe in once saved always saved, yet their faith may remain intact. Such men have not fallen away but have simply wandered from the truth, and can therefore repent. However, if over time they harden themselves to the calling to return to the truth about the Bible and themselves, they place themselves in very real danger of completely falling away.

  • My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19–20)

Alienated from Christ

Finally, we see Paul telling the Galatians that they have fallen from grace. Indeed, he does not mix words here. In the clearest of language he proclaims that they “have been alienated from Christ” and have “fallen away from grace.”

  • You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4)

In order to be alienated from someone, you have to first know them. The dictionary defines it this way; “to make unfriendly, hostile, or indifferent where attachment formerly existed.” Where once Jesus embraced a disciple with deep attachment, that relationship is broken and replaced with hostility and indifference. If a person has been cut off, you can often see it in their eyes. The fire of the gospel is gone, they grope for any enlightenment or even conviction, hoping against hope that God will talk to them once again. Their wounded souls will even invent conviction and conjure up the voice of God in order to try and fill the void they now feel. It is incredibly sad to observe someone who has fallen away.

We can fall away by simply choosing to leave the Lord. God will never force Himself upon us. To do so violates love which never forces someone to love in return. Indeed, for God to force any man or woman to love Him is to turn them into robots. In John 6:66, and I trust the reader will note the number, we read that “many” made the choice to turn their backs on Jesus. Many people like this who, for reasons of doctrine or loving something in this world or even love of themselves, simply stop following Jesus.

  • From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. (John 6:66)

These people were not unbelievers and pagans. These were full blown, cross carrying “disciples,” what Jesus told every church to go and make.

So there are two ways to fall away. One, by hardening your heart against the “little” promptings of the Holy Spirit and, two, by simply choosing to stop following Jesus. In the first, God has to cut you off and, in the second, you cut yourself off by your own choice. The disciples in the above Scripture were offended by the tone, manner, and demands that Jesus made clear to them, and therefore hardened themselves against the gift of faith. These were disciples who, though they walked with Jesus, would not allow grace to have its way. We know that God did not choose to punish them without giving them a chance. God does not want anyone to perish and we understand that no man is predestined for hell. Indeed, if God has His will in the matter, if He were to force the situation according to His will, all would go to heaven. Although, Jesus knows who will believe in Him, He still turns to His remaining disciples to draw out the grace of faith He works lest they ignore it and fall.

  • “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. (John 6:67)

So it is with you. You have a choice. You can choose to fall away and to leave. Do you want to leave now that you know how tough the Christian walk is?



The Consider Podcast attempts to express opinions through God’s holiness. To understand The Consider Podcast will require a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Nothing concerning justice or injustice should be taken as legal advice or a call to action. There is no political agenda. There is no individual moral life advice. Indeed, each person is solely responsible before God and man for their actions or inactions. The Consider Podcast is narrowly focused on one thing and only one matter – the need for all to surrender to a life of repentance and holiness according to the whole gospel.

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