At the moment of salvation several things occur to the sinner. First, his desire for sin is diminished while his desire for righteousness is increased. Second, his destination is changed. Third he becomes a son in the family of God. Fourth, the Spirit of God takes up residence within him. Finally, his sins are forgiven and he is covered by the mantle of Christ's blood. Each of these things can either be rejected or lost at a later date. So, if all that he gained at the moment salvation is later lost then how much salvation does he really have left?
In these two verses the Bible clearly indicates that the Christian can go back to sin again.
The Apostle Peter makes this even more clear in 2 Peter 2:21-22, "It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'"
So, the Christian can most certainly start sinning again.
If Heaven can't be lost then what do these words men. What does it mean that they have shipwrecked their faith? What does it mean that they have been handed over to Satan? These were men who once had faith but then rejected it, and now have shipwrecked that faith.
The writer of Hebrews clearly says that there are some who have shrunk back from faith and been destroyed because of it. Here is the chain of events. 1. They had faith. 2. They lapsed back away from that faith. 3. Their rejection of faith led to their destruction.
After reading this verse I would be very hesitant to believe that Heaven cannot be lost. This Christian chose not to remain in Christ, and because of that he has been gathered with dry branches to be burned. Surely this can mean nothing except that this person once saved, once safe in the arms of Jesus is now in grave peril.
Here the son is disowned. The Bible says, "Whoever" disowns. If the sinner disowns me I will disown him. If a Christian disowns me, the answer is the same. If a son disowns me, they too will be disowned. Whoever means whoever.
Esau sold his inheritance. Heaven is the inheritance of the children of God. This verse is clearly saying that sexual immorality can cause the child of God to lose that inheritance. Why else would the writer give this warning? Be careful what you do lest you like Esau lose your inheritance.
I suppose it is possible that this verse could be about losing your heavenly reward. But either way this is a grim and terrible warning. Do you really want to come face to face with God while having sin in your life? Do you really want to make the claim of son-ship all the while knowing that you are filled to the brim with uncleanness? I think it is especially dangerous considering 1 John 2:23-24, "No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father."
So, If you do not remain in the Father how much of a son can you be?
Saul had once had the anointing of God, but that anointing had been removed from him and given to David instead. The Bible says it clearly, "The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul."
David feared that the Spirit of God would depart from him just like it had for Saul. It is possible for the Christian, who chooses to persevere in sin, to forfeit fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
The wages of sin are eternal death. The consequence of sin is always death. Sin in the life of the unbeliever leads to spiritual death. But sin in the life of the believer leads to spiritual death as well.
So, if Christian can go back to sinning; If he can lose his inheritance as a son; If he has been disowned by Christ; If he no longer has fellowship with the Holy Spirit, if he has shipwrecked his faith, if he have been plucked out of the vine, and if he have been handed over to Satan, then exactly how much salvation is left? Believing once saved always saved in the face of such strong Biblical evidence seems terrible unwise to me.
Sam Flick, Wesleyan Pastor (Guest Author)
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)