the very real danger of coming short and being a castaway

Fear God and “pursue holiness without which, no man shall see the Lord.”

“Faith without works is dead.”

“Make your calling and election sure.”

26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

“Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;”

20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.”

26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

There are plenty of verses in the Bible to put a little bit more energy or importance into our spiritual laboring. If the apostle Paul considered that “by any means” he might be a castaway, where are we to stand? Certainly the Bible teaches eternal security and the assurance of salvation as a blessing of walking with God. But the warnings given are not given without purpose. They have an announced purpose and that is to drive us to run, fight, work, not be entangled, escape, repent, pursue holiness, make our election sure, and to avoid sinning willfully.

Our willful sin should cause us to question ourselves in light of these verses. The truth of our utter depravity and deceitful hearts, combined with the exhortations in Scripture that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter into the kingdom of Heaven, should drive us to question. When we find sin easy for us, that it does not grieve us, that we can justify or excuse it, that we are not found sorrowing over it, we need to “repent and do the first works.”

If the definition of back-slidden is someone who is truly saved but yet in sin, then certainly the Bible teaches that this can happen in the persons of Lot and David. That back-slidden person should not assume that they were ever saved to begin with though. That person should repent and do the first works, that is how faith is made evident, by works.

Who are we to cast judgment on anyone? Our own sin should be so livid before us, that we should cry out with the apostle Paul, “O wretched man that I am” and I am “the chief of sinners.” It is not our place to sit in judgment of others salvation. We exhort one another, and encourage one another, understanding that we may not struggle with certain things because of the victory that God gives, and not our own selves.

God does not give warnings to hear Himself speak. He didn’t record these words because He needed to reach a certain word count, or page length. God gave these warnings because they are real, and because true saints will strive, will not become weary and be done, but will press towards the mark. This is a real danger; a danger that can be avoided, but a real danger. Let us not sin willfully. Let us repent and do the first works lest by any means we become a castaway.

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